Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like walking away from something because you didn’t feel it was worthy enough or waited to launch your new idea because you just didn’t feel like it was quite ready yet. I know I’ve been there many times. I realized that for those of us who work in creative fields and have our own business, it’s so easy to let perfection hold us back. The good news is that if we change the way we see progress and embrace the imperfect moments, we can finally let go of the idea that everything we produce and create needs to be perfect before we put it into the world.
As an entrepreneur, you know that building and growing your business, and your brand isn’t easy. You’re also aware that success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence. While you want to do everything right, the fact of the matter is you don’t have time to get it all done perfectly—or even near-perfectly—right away, so why not focus on moving forward? After all, progress is more important than perfection when it comes to growing your business and reaching your goals.
Progress is more important than perfection
Raise your hand if you would consider yourself a workaholic. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Those of us who have their own business often LOVE the work they do and will spend far more hours working on what we are passionate about than the average person. My kids and husband will tell you that on the days I get to put in some solid work hours, I’m an overall happier person. Why? Because I love what I do. On the days I don’t get to work, I miss it. That sounds a little pitiful, but the truth is that when you love what you do, you might also turn into a workaholic. Or, as I like to call it, someone who’s just really passionate about their work.
But what we forget is that our dreams are not actually about success; they’re about pursuing something meaningful. Once you decide you’re committed to doing something with your life, don’t sacrifice today’s work because you’re worried it won’t be perfect someday. Instead, just do something worthwhile and focus on doing great work rather than perfect work. I promise, in the long run, you’ll realize that’s what really going to get you to your biggest goals.
The most important thing is that you realize that you don’t have to be perfect; not only is it impossible, but it’s unnecessary. Don’t wait for everything to line up perfectly before taking action; take smart action today until you reach your goal (or change course). Perfection will come later when you’re at cruising altitude.
Share your imperfect moments
Out of curiosity, I did a fun little poll on my IG stories asking if people were more interested in seeing the finished product OR the process that goes into making said product. And a whopping 96% of people said they rather see the process. So next time you find yourself hiding the messy part of running a business, realize that people would actually prefer to see that over the polished finished piece we typically want to share.
Start Now. Like right now
Now, if you’re a type-A business owner with a ton on your plate, there’s a good chance you may think that being productive is about getting as much done as possible. This may work for short-term gains, but it won’t allow you to reach long-term goals.
Building good habits (and the right habits) is critical for helping us move forward toward our goals. Once you’ve identified your goal, it’s time to identify habits that will help you achieve it. To do so, simply ask yourself: what habits am I already doing today that will help me achieve my long-term goals? What changes do I need to make to start moving towards my goal? It really comes down to breaking down your big goals, into tiny little habits you can focus on every day. Eventually, all that progress adds up and will get you where you want to be.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Stop comparing yourself and your progress to others in your industry. As a new business owner, you might be comparing yourself to someone who has been doing it professionally for 10+ years. You might also compare your messy behind-the-scenes action, to that perfect polished piece you see them share online. Regardless, it won’t serve you any good comparing yourself to others. So kick that habit to the curb and learn how to appreciate other people’s work and progress without feeling like it takes anything away from yours.
The desire to attain perfection often prevents us from starting projects at all. This is why entrepreneurs should push themselves to create something—anything—even if it isn’t perfect. Entrepreneurs who fail to complete tasks or produce products eventually lose momentum and motivation. They assume that if they can’t do it right, they shouldn’t do it at all. If you strive for perfection, you may procrastinate and even sabotage your own long-term success. Achieving great things takes persistence and resilience: To become a successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to be imperfect while staying focused on your goals and never giving up on yourself or your dreams.
Imperfect progress is still growth
Sometimes we’re hard on ourselves. We know that being perfect is not a reality, but that doesn’t stop us from striving for it—to a fault. It may be tempting to scrap what you have and start over if you feel like you haven’t hit your mark just yet, but don’t throw good work away just because it isn’t perfect. While perfection can be idealistic, it won’t often reflect your business growth or your personal growth. Imperfectly growing is still growing—and though growth doesn’t always look exactly how we imagined it would at first, progress will happen organically as long as you keep working toward something better.
Slow progress is still progress
When you’re busy launching your new business or working on an important project, it can be tempting to forget that small wins are still wins. Even if they aren’t milestones, they’re still part of moving forward with your goal. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back for every little bit you do; if you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will. You deserve it! Work hard and remember why you started in the first place—in other words, remember what progress feels like. A lot has probably changed since then (you might even look back at some of those early days and shudder), but it is still good to remind yourself that feeling proud is not only normal but necessary for business success.
You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. ― Sophia Bush.
The act of getting started produces momentum. Momentum fuels motivation. Motivation increases your chances for success. All you need to do is press play and start moving forward—and try your best to focus on progress over perfection.