How many times have you said to yourself, “I really want to do “x” but I just don’t know where to start?”  Have you ever wondered if there is a RIGHT place to start? Hello, perfectionism.  What if you knew that no matter what step you took it would lead to PROGRESS?  That’s right, I said progress ,not completion.

At first, I actually wrote down “accomplishment” instead of progress because I fell into the very trap I was just trying to illuminate for you!

Embarrassing.

A Million Tiny Baby Steps

But the fact is that when we imagine accomplishing something we don’t think of all the steps of progress that lead to it – we only imagine the finished product

No one ever “gets a job” or “finds a partner” or “gets rich.”

We make a million tiny baby steps that lead us progressively in the direction of the end goal.

And even when we get there, we are not done!

Outcomes Connected to the Paralysis of Perfectionism

So even the concept of “outcomes” is misleading.  The completion of one piece of our lives is simply the beginning step of another chapter of our ever-unfolding adventure.

One reason I bring up “outcomes” is it’s connected to the paralysis of perfectionism which is often the culprit lurking behind procrastination.

We worry about doing the WRONG thing. Hello, perfectionism.

We worry that we need to choose the RIGHT first step to lead to the “outcome” we want (“get a job”). Hello, perfectionism.

Sometimes we don’t even clearly identify what is the outcome we are aiming for!  If you can do this, then you can start to work backwards to identify THE ONE THING that is most critical.  The one thing that has to happen in order for the house of cards to hold. The one thing that would bring it all falling down if it got undone.

The Next Step & Decision Fatigue

Another way to identify a good next step is to look at the big picture situation and ask yourself, “What about this is making me the most tired to look at?”

Besides the paralysis of wanting to pick the most perfect first step is the fatigue that builds while our minds are spinning on the decision.

Often there’s a piece of the puzzle we are tolerating, and if we get it out of the way, our energy will rise and we can take a step.

But, lets get really clear:  There is no such thing as perfect.

It literally doesn’t exist. There:

  •  is no one right first step.
  •  are no outcomes just effects from a flow of actions.
  •  are no mistakes just more information to lead us to the next step.

Overthinking leads to information overload.  The belief we have to make each step a decision creates decision fatigue.

Break Down the Big Picture Goal

We need to break down the big picture goal we are aiming for to look at all the pieces.

Break it down.

Then, like a puzzle: pick a piece up and guess where in the empty space it might belong – the middle, an edge?

The more steps you take the faster the pattern starts to emerge and the clearer the path gets.  Just like the puzzle.

This is where mind mapping can support this process and provide visual aid (like the puzzle) to help speed the process of seeing the pattern.

See how the steps connect and put them into order.

Unpack all the pieces of the bigger picture goal and then re-order them so you can identify all of the next steps.

It is likely there are several “pods” of mini-projects with multiple steps stemming from each one.  See if there is a pod that is the easiest, most time-sensitive or most enjoyable to start with.

… and some Anti-Perfectionism Quotes to Help You Along Your Way

We need cheerleading when we are at this most difficult stage of any goal.  The first step is always the hardest.

These are a few quotes I like to keep in mind when I’m feeling overwhelmed about starting something:

“Progress not perfection;”

“Something completed imperfectly is better than something perfect never complete;”

“Prioritize, don’t perfect.”

And my personal favourite: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic