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Usually, I’m really good at finishing my shitty first draft. The other day, though, I was chatting with Tanya Geisler about getting started, and I listed all of the reasons I hadn’t taken action yet. Tanya stopped me and said, “I think you might be dealing with more perfectionism than you realize.”
This sneaky version of perfectionism—wanting everything to be perfectly aligned before starting something new—can quickly creep up on us. We might label it as procrastination or lack of motivation. But at its core, we’re expecting perfection before we even start.
I like to think of my projects as seeds. You have to plant the seed for the tree to grow, and you have to start the project for the project to be successful.
So often, though, we are holding the seed in our hands and saying, “I don’t know that I’m going to like all those apples. I don’t know that this will make enough apples for me to make pies for the entire family at the family reunion. I don’t know that the apples are going to go with the recipe that I have in the kitchen.”
When we wait for our circumstances to be just right, try to guarantee a project’s outcome, or prejudge a task before we’ve even started, we don’t even plant the seeds.
I’ve been holding the seed of a book in my hand for a while now. I’m worried about the book tour that will happen after the book is published instead of sitting down to write.
I’ll go through scenarios in my head and think about what I’ll wear on tour, if I’ll want to travel so much, if the world will be safer, and what I’ll do if no one shows up. I used to think that this was a form of procrastination, but the better label is perfectionism. I’m trying to guarantee the outcome before I’ve even begun.
The question I have for you is this:
Is perfectionism about something that’s not even here yet keeping you from planting that seed?
And by the way, your seed doesn’t have to be a work project. It could be a choice to be more present in your life. Or the goal you have of taking a moment each hour to just breathe. Whatever your seed is, it won’t grow unless you put it in the ground.
When I’m working on something, I operate under the idea that I like to love it. I like to be in that place where I make something and say, “Oooh, this feels good!” And that’s because I care about how I show up and what I produce for you.
Recently, though, I woke up and had this flood of knowing. I wrote a new phrase down on a Post-It note and was so excited!
I’m trying out a new mantra with a simple flip flop of two words:
I love to like it.
This phrase is so energizing for me. It brings me a lot of delight, which we’ve been chatting about in the Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle this month.
Instead of having the pressure of loving what I’m working on, I’m allowing myself to say, “I like it enough.” I don’t need things to be perfect so that I can love them. I just have to like them.
Of course, you have to use your discernment muscle with this. I wouldn’t recommend saying “I like it enough” before making a big purchase, for example!
But for the work I’m doing, saying “I love to like it” gives me the freedom to keep trying. I know that if I create something and I like it enough, I’m actually moving towards a more accurate reflection of the work that I want to produce in the world and the person I want to be in my life.
“I love to like it” also tells me that I’m moving forward on the things that are true priorities for me. I want to be moving forward on the things that thrill me. I know that I want to be living in a way where everything I touch feels thrilling.
I’ve got a lot of things that I’m working on behind the scenes here at HQ, and I’m going to be telling you about them very, very soon. But I will say that one of the most significant shifts that we are making is we will be talking way less about what you’re doing and way more about who you’re being.
That means you’ll learn more from me about:
how your outside life is a reflection of who you are on the inside
how you are walking through this world, and if you’re fully alive, fully awake, fully connected, wildly creative, and rooted in that radical self-belief.
That matters to me so much more than “what are you getting done? Are you procrastinating?” We could talk about that, I guess. But if we go under that, at the root of it all, it isn’t about planting the seed. It’s about examining what the seed could be and all of the reasons you haven’t planted it yet.
When I talk about how we show up to our lives, I want you to know that I am not demanding that you walk through your life like Wonder Woman. Expecting that level of boundless energy would be perfectionism, of course.
Tending to your spirit and doing things that will give you a little more energy instead of draining it are essential right now. We don’t have to throw in the towel just because of the current circumstances. And we don’t have to throw in the towel because we’re demanding perfection of ourselves.
If you don’t have the energy to “love to like it,” that means you’re probably experiencing burnout. And often, we get out of burnout, and then we get sucked right back down. That’s one reason why I want to stop talking about doing and start talking about being. If we begin to ask ourselves, “Who am I being? What am I expecting of myself? Am I in touch with the wildly-creative, rooted-in-radical-self-belief version of myself?”
My one little seed for today is going from “I like to love it” to “I love to like it.” Because that means that I’m on the track that I want to be, and I’m not letting that sneaky little version of perfectionism hold me back.
Send me a DM on Instagram: are you going to try out “I love to like it?” Or is there another little mantra that makes your heart go pitter-patter? I’d love to hear from you.
Ep. 181: How to Grow an Idea: A New Path to Creative Productivity, Part 1
Ep. 354: Tiptoeing Into Radical Self-Belief
[07:40] Planting the Apple Seed
[11:36] Perfectionism Makes Us Quit Before We Even Start
[17:19] How I’m Flipping the Script and Working Through Perfectionism
[20:59] How My New Phrase is Changing My Approach
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