What I learned in 12 months of taking imperfect action
My word for 2019 was imperfect, and looking back, I can see that this was exactly what I needed in order to make the progress that I’ve made in my business this year. But at the time, choosing to focus on imperfection for a full year was pretty counterintuitive, especially for a recovering perfectionist like me.
This time last year when I started sharing that “imperfection” was going to be my focus for the year, it turned a lot of heads. It was definitely an unconventional choice, and if I’m being honest, it was pretty uncomfortable for me as well. But I’m SO glad that I leaned into the discomfort, and today, I want to share my experience of embracing imperfection in 2019, and what I learned in the process with you. Before we dive into what I learned during my year of imperfection, let’s talk about perfectionism and how it can be so detrimental to our success and our progress as online business owners.
Perfection is an Illusion
Perfection does not exist, and no matter how much you work to “perfect” something that you’ve created, there will always be more that can be done. There will always be something that’s not quite complete. If your goal is “perfection” you will always be able to find something to criticize about whatever you’re working on. That means you’ll always be able to find an excuse to hold off on sharing your work, putting yourself out there, or taking the action that’s going to move your business forward.
This is exactly where I found myself a year ago. I started to recognize that my perfectionism, was actually a form of procrastination, and it was causing me to hold back from taking action that would move my business forward. So I decided that 2019 had to be a year of imperfection. That meant embracing my imperfections as an individual, and learning to love and accept myself as I am. It also meant embracing imperfection by committing to taking action before I felt ready, instead of spending months trying to “perfect” things before putting them out into the world.
Now, one year later, I want to share my biggest takeaways after my year of taking imperfect action with you:
Action Creates Clarity
The first thing I learned is that action creates clarity. And before you write this off as a cliche, it’s repeated so often because it’s true. It’s also essential to your business success. You may have heard the concept that “action creates clarity” in the past, but there is a big difference between knowing that conceptually, and actually experiencing the clarity for yourself after having taken the action.
By taking imperfect action this year, I was able to gain so much clarity in terms of what I wanted from my business, what I enjoyed doing and wanted to do more of, what I wanted to move away from, and most importantly, what works and what doesn’t in order to get the desired results.
Not only did my actions create clarity, but I found that it doesn’t stop there. The clarity that comes from taking action, also inspires MORE action.
Clarity Inspires More Action
Once you start taking action and finding clarity, it creates an upward spiral. That initial clarity you find from the first action you take will inspire you to start taking even more action. And because your action is based on your newfound clarity, it will be even more aligned with the outcomes that you want. Which will create more clarity. Which will inspire more action in the right direction. Which will create more clarity. And so on and so on. So if you’re feeling stuck on what to do next, or where exactly you want to go with your business, the best advice I can give is to take acton. Any action. You really can’t go wrong here. By taking any action that you think might contribute to achieving the outcome you think you want, you are making progress in the right direction. Because through that action, you’ll find clarity that will inspire your next action. Every time you do that, you’ll be moving closer and closer to the results you really want. If you’re waiting until you feel like you have all the answers, or until you’ve “perfected” whatever it is that you’re working on, you will be waiting to find the clarity you need for a long time. It all starts with taking imperfect action.
Business is an Experiment.
All of the action and clarity that I found through taking imperfect action this year led me to start treating everything I do in my business as an experiment. This has really altered my approach to taking action in my business, and has also helped me to detach emotionally from the outcomes that come from the action I take in my business. Because it’s all just an experiment anyways.
For example, in my most recent launch, I took everything that I’d learned from the action I’d been taking throughout the year, put together an imperfect launch plan, and took imperfect action to carry out that plan. And instead of attaching any meaning or putting any pressure on hitting a certain goal, I approached the whole thing with curiosity:
“Let’s see if this works”
“I wonder what will happen if we do this.”
I had goals for how many students I wanted to get into my program, and how much revenue I wanted to generate, but I was completely detached emotionally from the outcome because it was more like a hypothesis.
When I didn’t hit the goal, I wasn’t phased by it. I focused on serving the students who DID sign up for my program, and celebrating the REAL achievement, which was taking aligned action with no emotional attachment to the results. Trust me, that is a BIG achievement compared to where I was a year ago. And because I’m approaching this all as an experiment, I now have data to work with from that first launch and can make a few tweaks to my next launch plan and measure the results from there. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t committed to taking imperfect action before I felt ready.
Would I do it again?
So, would I do it again? The answer is yes and no. I am so glad that I committed to taking imperfect action this year. I believe it was absolutely necessary in moving my business forward and growing into the person I need to be in order to continue my business growth. So if you struggle with perfectionism, (or tend to procrastinate and catch yourself frozen with fear over what you should do next – all forms of perfectionism) I absolutely recommend that you try out a year or a season of experimenting with imperfect action.
At the same time, it’s now time for me to pick up the broom and start cleaning up the beautiful mess that I made this year. Through my year of imperfection, I gained so much clarity into what I want from my business, and what will help me get there. Now, moving in to 2020, my word of the year is going to be REFINE. Because it’s time for me to hone in on the things that worked and that I want to continue, and start refining them. So in 2020, I won’t be creating any new programs or service packages, and I won’t be adding in any new marketing strategies that aren’t already in the works. Instead, I’ll be focusing on what I’ve already created, through my imperfect action, and refining them on the inside and the outside to make them the best they can be.
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