We’ve likely all met someone who couldn’t finish a project because they felt every aspect had to be perfect. But, perfection doesn’t exist (truly). As a result, the project sits incomplete on their computer or in their studio. Some might consider the time invested wasted since no one ever gets to enjoy what the creator produced.
Perfectionism can be a major blocker for creators and entrepreneurs. According to a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, perfectionism is linked to “feelings of failure, guilt, indecisiveness, procrastination, shame, and low self-esteem.” As a result, people struggle to move forward with the task or project - this has been dubbed perfection paralysis.
But, how do you overcome it?
Letting go of perfectionism and recalibrating to a more realistic standard of when something is ready to share is challenging. To help you do this, we invited two knowledge creators to speak on their experience of overcoming perfection paralysis during a virtual summit in August of 2022. You can watch the session here:
Before we dive in to the tips, meet our speakers:
Steve Harris is a global business coach who helps high-performance individuals and institutions bridge the gap between their performance and potential. Self described as “ruthless”, he’s worked with over 1,000 clients and pushed them to put in the work and achieve stellar results.
Grace Abbott is a multi-hyphenate creative strategist and brand builder who specializes in growing businesses at the intersection of content and commerce. Her last five years have been focused on building To Be Magnetic – turning what was once a wellness blog into a fast-growing membership platform– the #1 destination for Neural Manifestation.
Responses have been edited for brevity.
Why do people get caught up in perfectionism?
“I always tell people that your quest for perfection is really procrastination in disguise. The fact that you're trying to dot all your Is and cross all your Ts, you're afraid, you are scared.
You're running on a treadmill, you have the semblance of motion, but you're not going anywhere. A lot of people get caught up in perfection analysis paralysis. They say things like, ‘I think I need to have the split test a little bit better, or maybe I need to change the font.’
So we’re working on all the things that really don't matter because it gives us a sense of motion, but in reality, we're not really going anywhere.
Sometimes we get caught up because we're buying new courses, we're learning new programs, we're getting new tactics and all we're doing is getting certifications or qualifications because we need validation. I'm going to say that again. We're learning a lot of things because we need validation because we're saying to ourselves, maybe I'm not good enough.
I hate to break it to you. My friend, you are good enough. So get out of your way and get started.”
Takeaway: Don’t use perfection as a reason to procrastinate. In fact, just don’t procrastinate! Improve your productivity with our five top tips.
How have you overcome perfection paralysis?
“I think there's this tendency to try to hire experts or get more qualifications. But, everything is just an experiment. Even people that are experts, aren't really experts. You know, we try something and it works until it doesn't work. And then you pivot and you try something again. So I think the best thing that you can do to overcome [perfection] is to remember that there actually is no perfect way to do it. There is nobody that could do it any better than you.
And if you try something and it fails, you just pivot and you try something again. Ultimately, what's going to make people successful in the long run is their willingness to give something a shot and continue to pivot with humility.”
Takeway: Don’t be afraid to fail - you can always pivot if something doesn’t work. Here are our tips on how to embrace failure once and for all.
Digital products don’t need to be perfect, but they still need to reach a certain level of quality to sell. How can a creator reset their expectations to the level of quality that's still going to serve their business and their brand?
“Consider - does it reflect the level of content and education that you're going to be putting out? Does it tell a compelling story about what you have to offer? And then of course, things like making sure you're doing a copy edit, that you have high-quality audio and video. All those things that are going to make the user experience as high quality as possible.
But I think more than anything, just going for it. You don't need to have a really high end production team to make a great video. You can shoot something nice on your iPhone. Just be mindful that there's nothing in the background and that the audio quality's good.
Focus on those little tweaks that you can do alone at home. Look at examples of what you think is best in class and then figure out how to emulate that on your own.”
Takeaway: Focus on the user experience and use the resources at your disposal for your product quality. Check out some easy and no-cost or low-cost ways to improve your audio quality.
What is the first step a knowledge creator can take to help them produce their first digital product?
“I find that a lot of entrepreneurs are caught up with the message, and they're not thinking about the market. You must ask yourself – is there a market for my message? Now, how do you identify if there's a market for your message?
It’s really quite simple - ask certain questions like:
- What's the problem that my message or my passion can solve?
- Who has the problem and needs this solution?
- Where are the people that you’re called to serve?
- How are you going to find them?
- How are they going to find you?
- How much money do they have?
- Why should anyone come to you instead of the millions of alternatives that are out there?
So that is my creator journey; think about how to get your message out in the world and also get remunerated for the message.”
Takeaway: Do market research to inform your product development. Learn how to use keywords to find your next digital product topic.
“At To Be Magnetic, whenever we've wanted to test a new product or have a concept in mind for something, we'll do a soft launch. So, make a landing page to collect emails that tells the story about what the product we are selling, to understand the interest around the product. In that, you can experiment with different positioning and messaging and see who will put their email down for a product that is focused on this versus focused on that.
And, I also test the market and the language. Seeing what's resonating with people even before you have something to offer can be a great way to start to build a foundation and understand where interest levels lie and what content is resonating the most. And then you can always shape your product around that piece too if you're not ready to launch something right away.”
Takeaway: Do a soft launch to gauge audience interest and generate demand. Learn how to pre-sell your digital product.
Kajabi can help you get your knowledge out into the world (finally!)
At Kajabi, we’re working to build a world where everyone can build a life and business around their knowledge. No matter what kind of business you run, Kajabi can help you take it to the next level! At Kajabi, we have helped over 55,000 digital entrepreneurs just like you turn their knowledge into a thriving business.
Create online courses, establish membership sites, offer coaching programs, host a podcast, and sell other digital products. Plus, you'll get marketing tools like a website, CRM, email marketing, landing page templates, and more to help you spread the word about your products and earn more revenue.
Fully explore what Kajabi has to offer with a free trial. Start your free 14-day trial of Kajabi today!
Already a Kajabi Hero? Join or jump back into the Kajabi Hero Official Facebook Community. With over 36,000 members, it’s a great spot to get inspiration, bounce ideas off of other creators, and get help from experienced creators.
Still researching? Check out Kajabi’s free downloadable ebook guides on launching and growing a knowledge commerce online business!
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