The 4P’s or how I solved my “Getting it Perfect vs Getting Started” Dilemma

Most people, myself included, fall into the trap of waiting for “perfection” and not get anything done. If I don’t do this “perfectly”, then I will fail and it will be embarrassing.

Ever had a similar thoughts like that? I know I have.

If so, you can probably relate to the ending of the sentence “I will start when …”

  • I am less busy
  • I get a different job
  • I finish the project
  • the time is right
  • I make/have more money
  • I am “ready”

I am sure you can add your own variations to the ending.

The truth is that we, as humans, are intelligent creatures, sometimes too intelligent for our own good. We will defend and justify every logical reason our intellectual brain can come up with, to avoid the real and risky work of doing.

For most of us “perfectionism” serves as a powerful armor to protect ourselves against possible criticism or embarrassment, which unfortunately is the very same thing that prevents us from growing and learning too.

So, what is this nebulous word “Perfection” anyway?

It’s a man made concept. One person likes one thing, another disapproves of it completely. Reason being is that a word such as “perfection” is open to interpretation and is down to individual preferences. There is no such thing as absolute “perfection” … it is all subjective!

How many perfect people have you met lately … ?

Waiting for the perfect moment to start something, is like being on the race track and looking at the greyhounds chasing the white rabbit … they never ever do catch that rabbit!

Let’s look at this from a different perspective for a moment.

Look at the attitude of a child. When they are growing up, children are like a blank canvass. They have no reference experience for the world and their brain is like a sponge, soaking in information from the environment around them. When a child makes an attempt at something, and they don’t “succeed” (not that they even have a concept of what success is) they just keep on going.

When a child attempts at walking and it falls flat on his nose … what happens? After they give you the occasional confused look … they keep on trying, until they stand and have another go at it.

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We have to remember that we started from the same exact place, yet we get caught up into our own expectations, the good opinion of others, fear, external pressure, language and we tend to forget the attitude that got us here in the first place.

The goal is not to be “perfect” but to get started so you have something to perfect!

Let me give an example from my own book.

I started an eCommerce business in the my last year of University and I was chasing my tail in a circle in search for the “perfect” conditions! I would thoroughly research a potential niche … then I would find another 99 niches, in case the first one didn’t work, without even trying it out.

I would research online, read and stack up extensive reports on the current e-Commerce landscape in the UK and US, so I know what the current and future trends are going to be. I would watch hours worth of videos on YouTube about “Do’s and Don’ts” for my store, get bogged down in the fonts I was going to use, the pictures and colour palette. Often, I find myself spending hours on a process documents, which I normally would never see after a couple of days!

It was in that process, that I came to the 4P’s realisation.

So what is this anyway?

Perfect Preparation = Permanent Procrastination.

That is the result of over-preparing or chasing the perfect ____ fill in the blank, leads to a dead end.

For majority of us, being a Perfectionist means, that you don’t get anything done … it’s often used as a polished word for “I AM NOT PRODUCING”.

95% of the activities I was executing in my business, were rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making mistakes and embarrassment.

Author Stephen Pressfield refers to this feeling in his book The War of Art as “The amount of resistance you are feeling is directly proportional to love. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific task, the more certain we can be that this endeavour is important to us and to the growth of our soul”.

OK, smart ass, I got the point, what should I do now?

What if I told you, you CAN start without being perfect- (1)

Let me tell you a story.

Back in 1884 an American psychologist and philosopher by the name of William James  proposed a theory that made ripples in the psychological community for years.

In a nutshell he proposed that behaviour comes first (in other words a physiological response which is interpreted by the brain) and then an emotion follows as a result.

Hence the quote “motion creates emotion”.

Whether or not you agree with this is entirely up to you. Just try it out, let me know how it works for you.

3 minute technique

This os something I personally do, when I don’t feel like going to the gym or writing blog posts for example.

I will block all the distractions (unnecessary tabs on my browser, websites and put my phone away) and I put my sole focus to make a conscious effort and start the activity I have been shying away from, for at least 3 minutes. It’s important to get that into action, because once you have started, it becomes more difficult to stop.

Ultimately, it comes down to this – make some mistakes, learn from them!

Like everything else you train to become better.

Just because you are feeling resistance, when you first start, does not mean you should quit.

This resistance won’t last for the entire experience, but you just have to push through the initial few moments.

Grind it out, train the “Hustle Muscle” as Grant Cardone says, continue to show up … do whatever you have to do, but continue to ride the momentum. It get’s better with time, I promise.

Next time when you feel the resistance creeping up … STAY with that feeling, consciously take in the moment to recognise that this is an opportunity for you to grow.

Think about the last time you felt the same way just before you were about to do something really exciting, something that you loved, anticipated, cared for and all the good things that came as a result of embracing the fear.

What do to next?

Here are a few pointers:

Set the expectations – no perfect timings, just an endless “NOW”. Resistance is perfectly (see we have already achieved perfection ;)) normal, so make a start.

Do something, anything – Focus, cut off the distractions, put the phone away, use the 3 minute technique and get in the game.

Every start is better than no start – first step is the hardest, things get better 0ver time … as they always do.

Get Support – ask your friends for accountability and support if you feel you need it. I’ve found that friends keeping me accountable is the ultimate leverage point for me to get off my ass and roll up my sleeves.

So, what is stopping you now?

P.S. If you read all the way to here, I am very proud of you! I will also assume you liked the article, otherwise why bother reading the whole thing, right? I got plenty more of good stuff for you, simply put your name and email to join our growing community and receive more cool stuff here