We are super busy — with doing anything BUT what matters.
Why aren’t we doing what matters?
Because we have trained ourselves to think we have to be PERFECT in order to do The Thing That Matters!
First — we have to know. We have to know everything first, including the outcome, in order to make a move. We also have to ensure each step along the way is perfect, happens perfect, we are perfect, the steps are done in the perfect order, with the perfect supplies (bought at the perfect store with the perfect discount), etc. We perfect ourselves and everything around us to death. We tell ourselves, “Why not? We are worth it! We DESERVE perfect! We are all PERFECT deep inside.”
So we don’t take action. We don’t pursue The Thing That Matters because we are too busy studying up so we can take the first step perfectly. The problem is we don’t let ourselves just SUCK at things or FAIL. Because we have somehow trained ourselves that failure is even worse than being found out for being less than perfect. If we are not perfect, we are less than! If we aren’t perfect, why bother?!
Which means all we do is study, research, dream, and hold ourselves back. We never actually DO anything because we won’t let ourselves be wrong, flawed, or incomplete — which is the building phase of ANYTHING.
Because it’s not “perfect,” we just won’t even allow the messy building phase of anything to exist. This leads to inertia. What is inertia? Well, it’s what most of us are doing right now. But from Dictionary.com: inertia is a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to remain UNCHANGED.
A deeper definition to drive the point home comes from physics: Inertia is a property of matter by which it continues its existing state of rest of uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.
Wait, EXTERNAL? I don’t want to be changed by something OUTSIDE OF ME. I don’t want to be changed by something I can’t control! Right? How many times does life come along and make other plans for us, busting us out of our inertia phase? But we always want to be the ones to change the course, right? Yet, we never do. Because we have a tendency to remain unchanged because we feel we can’t do The Thing That Matters perfectly!
What is The Thing That Matters?
Whatever it is that you are blocking with your perfectionism, your need to know, your need to research/prepare first. You want The Thing That Matters — maybe it’s to own your own business, move to a new city, buy a house, whatever. It’s your dream. It matters to you. You’d choose it first and prioritize it when given the choice. You want it. But you’re about to spend 10 years researching it first before you ever take REAL action on it. Or, maybe never. because you’re afraid you won’t do it right.
The biggest mistake you make is your inertia, the reason behind this is your perfectionism, and the second reason behind it is your comfort. You love feeling comfy and cozy all wrapped up in your inertia like a blanket.
Inertia is your fault just like progress is your fault because YOU are the architect of your own destiny. The answer is to be imperfect, vulnerable, embarrassed, criticized, and uncomfortable. Go suck. Go fail. Go make mistakes!
Then learn from all that.
Have the patience to suck for a while so you can build something. A business, skill, blog, whatever — learn to play a song or an instrument. Learn to knit, not by being perfect, but by failing and sucking. Get your ass kicked. The harder, the better. We learn to improve through failure.
The most successful people you can think of didn’t get that way because they did it all perfect every step of the way. They just kept failing over and over. They didn’t give up. It’s unrealistic to expect perfection the first try out. Would you expect your child to hit a home run on their first day of baseball practice? So why expect the same of yourself?
Men don’t do this stuff. Men just go do things. They mess up, think it’s funny, high-five their buddies, give each other hell, and keep playing. They keep trying. Women, on the other hand, buy 12 books, join a support group, call their sister, take 23 classes, and constantly talk to friends about their dreams. Women build up social constructs in which we create these images of ourselves as perfect first before we go do The Thing That Matters — because appearing perfect enough to do it is more important to us than actually doing it in all its sloppy, messy glory. We want to look the perfect part first. We want to get everyone’s vote first that we are perfect for it, as if that will get us The Thing That Matters.
The drawback of being the woman who beats the inertia — a warning.
Heaven help you if you’re the woman in the group of friends who toils behind the scenes, who fails again and again until she accomplishes The Thing That Matters. Because then not only are you hailed as PERFECT — you’re also expected to reach back and teach all the women who want to do it, too. But then they make you out to be the Bad Girl when it doesn’t work for them and say you told them wrong — because they are stuck in their inertia. They think YOU will tell them how to do The Thing That Matters straight out, without all the failure. They think somehow they can cheat off your paper and shortcut through all the failure. Everyone wants the fail-proof method. They’ll spend hours, months, even years in classes to learn how to do The Things That Matters. But all the time spent translates to nothing until they give up the perfection complex that keeps them stuck.
Go do things. Do them imperfectly. Then get better. It’s a step process, not a leap process. Make normative cheering for other women who just take a step — any step, no matter how small or flawed — rather than cheering on the ones who did it perfect.
New blog post of the same name at DestinyArchitecture.com