Two P’s You Don’t Want in Your Pod

Accuracy is a big deal, especially when you’re about to press send, print or publish on a marketing piece. But perfectionism? That’s another matter.

In my early freelance writing days, I kept working on a particular article assignment within my slim workload. All day long, I fiddled with it. I was not finishing it. The information and the organization were already there. I was trying to make it “just right.”

Here’s what I finally realized. I was to be paid a set fee for the article. Whether I spent three hours on it or eight hours on it, I was going to be paid the same amount. That meant, the longer I worked on the article, the less I got paid.

This experience helped me see the cost of perfectionism. Also, trying to get things “just right” can sometimes be the same as the fear of letting go.

Procrastination is another costly quality. For me, that appears as a dragging feeling – a lack of energy created by my very inactivity. But when I get whatever it is done, a weight lifts, and my action restores my energy.

Some days I have to do what I call “the hard things.” Writing is easy. The hard things are checking on an invoice payment, contacting a prospect or following up on some other thing I’d rather avoid. The hard things are hard. But they get easier after you do them.

Even when it’s an easy thing, however, you can face resistance getting started. A good trick for overcoming that resistance is to take a very small step.

Last year, I read One Small Step Can Change Your Life, a well-known book by Dr. Robert Maurer based on principles of Kaizen, a philosophy used by Japanese businesses to make improvements. The Kaizen method involves taking a small step – often the smallest possible – which reroutes the circuits in your brain that make you feel overwhelmed.

Solopreneurs can use this process too. For example, one day when I didn’t want to write an article, I decided to take a very small step: I opened a new Word document. That was my step. I could do that and walk away, having accomplished what I set out to do. However, I started typing some words and got my project going.

If there’s something you would like to do, have been meaning to do or fear you can’t do, what’s one small step you can take today? Is there an unfinished work you would like to begin, move forward or complete? Don’t worry about how far you’ve got to go, or how far behind you’ve fallen, just take a small step today.

Minnie Lamberth is a marketing copywriter and developer of Story Shaping, a creative encouragement platform.