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Perfectionism and the Problem of Launching

Confession: I’ve been “starting this blog” for almost two years.

It should be fairly evident from that statement alone that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Perfectionism is not always a bad thing. It pushes me to always strive to be better at whatever it is I am doing. It motivates me to dream up that next great idea. It’s led me to do some really amazing things in my lifetime.

But perfectionism isn’t always my friend. Sometimes (maybe even most of the time?), it stands, like a endless wall, between me and that thing I want to do, create, be. It’s that not-so-soft voice that keeps suggesting there’s one more thing I should add, one more thing to correct, or one more reason why [this project] isn’t ready to meet the world.

Case in Point: This blog and the past two years.

There has been one thing after the next convincing me to put off starting a blog – starting this blog.

The Name! How many brilliant ideas get set aside or pushed to the back burner for lack of a “Good Name”? What if the name I pick is already taken? What if it doesn’t make sense? What if people hate it? The Design! Especially for a web designer/creative person. Web design plays right into those perfectionist tendencies. The First Post! What do I write about? The Content! What should my blog even be about?

It’s these same things (and many more) that plagued the launch (and slow start) of my social media and web design company. And the launch of my freelance copyediting service.

But it’s not really perfectionism’s fault. We can blame it on fear.

Fear of failing for a million reasons. Fear of it not working out. Fear of a mistake. Fear of it not being worth it.

But the catch is . . . I’ll never have the answer to those fears before launching a new project. I won’t know if it won’t work out until it doesn’t work out. I won’t know if the new project isn’t worth it until after it’s launched. I won’t know something is a mistake until I’ve made that mistake.

And furthermore, all of the things that I’m afraid of make it even more important to actually take that chance and make that leap! Some of my best lessons have been what I learned from a project or adventure that didn’t work out. I learned a lot about myself when I joined ROTC in college and learned even more when I realized it wasn’t for me and made the decision to withdraw. If I launch a project that ultimately does not enrich my life or help me be my authentic self, good for me! I’ve learned something about myself and found something that I should not do if I want to be me. If a project or decision is a mistake – I know what not to do in the future.

It’s a lot easier to type that realization out in words than it is to live that as truth. (Thus, the two-year Blog Launch.) But it’s something to work toward. And definitely something to remember each time I get panicked about doing something new that might not work out. My new affirmation:

Embrace fear. Make it a part of the toolkit you approach the world with. Take a chance and be excited to fail.

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