You have goals, dreams and aspirations with a massive drive to achieve them and become successful. This intent of ambition oozes through your life as you wish for your child to perform well at school or the client you mentor to attain the results they deserve. On top of this, everything needs to work out perfectly. But what’s wrong with wanting something to be perfect? Nothing! Unless it leads to failure, which often happens to perfectionists.
When you’re a perfectionist, it’s all-or-nothing. Something’s either perfect or just a failure. And there’s only one right way to get success with other possible paths being wrong. This is a self-defeating behaviour leading to a stressful and discontent life. Enter GTD. GTD – Getting Things Done – is a brilliant productivity method formulated by David Allen. It shifts your mindset from a stagnant pool of ideas to an actionable set of steps, perfect for dealing with perfectionism.
Still not convinced about quitting your perfectionism? Here are 5 reasons why GTD breaks through perfectionism:
1. Complete > Incomplete
There are many projects you’ve probably started but have yet to complete. It could be a simple e-book you’ve wanted to write for months to help your clients but instead of committing to the idea, you scroll through Pinterest looking for the ‘best’ way to write an e-book. The idea of perfectionism feeds procrastination. What’s left is a brilliant concoction of ideas that won’t ever come into fruition. GTD prioritizes pushing ideas into the world, ASAP. Even though it isn’t ‘perfect’, an e-book that you consider ‘lousy’ (but your audience may love!) is better than a document full of words withering in a folder on your Mac.
2. Gain More Time
Perfectionism is a time-eater. A quick two sentence email congratulating your client for their success becomes a 30-minute long endeavour of analysing every single word. It’s good to have a high standard to ensure great quality but this can lead to getting bogged down in the details. A clear intention of ‘why’ you’re doing something can be a guide to focus on what matters. The Pareto principle is a great tool to find out the 20% effort needed to complete 80% of your project, so you can work and worry less. The extra time can be used to spend time with your family or complete a lost project. Avoid staying stuck and “designing at the whiteboard” as Tara Mohr puts it in her book “Playing Big” (a must read for all female entrepreneurs!). You have to take action and make things happen!
3. Learn Through ‘Failure’.
One thing that’s tough for you, if you’re a perfectionist, is the anxiety and worry about failing. You use all of your power to try and control your environment, circumstances and every little detail of a project, trying to get everything right to avoid putting it out there and therefore the chance of failure. The focus on failure stems from fear and can hold you back. Approximately 9 out of 10 start-ups fail. That number’s enough to scare anyone off from launching a new business! But it’s also why many entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, launch multiple businesses. If an idea fails, they move on while ‘paying’ for their lesson, knowing eventually they’re bound to strike gold. GTD means you’ll ‘fail’ quickly so while learning faster.
4. Be Unattached to the Result.
The reason why humans try to make everything ‘just right’ is because we have a primal avoidance of anything that may harm us. This stems from cave-man days and it used to save our lives as a species. These days though, most of the scary things we are wanting to push ourselves to do won’t actually bring us any physical harm. Fear of failure stops you from completing projects that will move your business forward. It could be that you’re shy about being in front of the camera, worried about how you look or what you sound like. Perhaps you think people will scoff at the content you produce – that heartfelt Instagram post that took half an hour to write.
You may worry about receiving negative comments on social media. Well, you might get those, but if you help 100 people and 1 person disagrees with your philosophy – so what!
GTD keeps your actions results-driven but allows you to calmly step away once the project’s finished. What mattered most was the enjoyment gained from doing what you love. There’s less stress about the result because there’s more passion around the process. Enjoy the journey.
5. Nothing’s Perfect.
This can be a hard pill to swallow but it’s true. Perfection really is a matter of personal preference, especially in creative fields. If someone showed you a beautiful picture of a sunset, you may look in awe while another person might find it totally uninspiring. No matter how hard you try to make something perfect, it isn’t going to appeal to everyone. This leads to being more stressed. By creating the content that you really want to and sharing from the heart people will be attracted by your uniqueness and will want to work with you! What you already do will be ‘perfect’ for them.
Be fascinating to your audience and they’ll keep coming back for more. People love details, so share specific stories from your life as this will increase the human connection factor for your personal brand.
More About GTD.
I really suggest going to the GTD website if you want to learn more about implementing the idea capturing process in your life. The book’s also a great inspiration on how to accomplish large and small goals. The process of GTD is simply putting aside the things you think hold you back and just doing what you love! If you’d like to purchase the book, you should be able to find it on the website or on Amazon.
Chanelle is a business coach/consultant and personal branding specialist with over 20 years of experience. She's been featured in Forbes, Thrive Global, Stylist Magazine and COACH Magazine. She runs a global training business and works with women helping them launch, grow and scale their online businesses and create a freedom-based life through entrepreneurship.