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Have you ever set out to complete a task and found that you were actively preventing yourself from actually going through with it? Something to be tweaked? Words to be rewritten or rephrased? Angles changed? Whatever it was, there was always something that was keeping you from actually completing the task. It could always be just a little bit better! Do you know what I’ve learned through all my trials and tribulations?
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
While you may be setting something up to be as great as possible, do you know what’s actually happening as you constantly tweak, rewrite, and change? Nothing. You have an idea, but not an action. Ideas are great, but unless they are shared, they have no actual meaning. They can’t change the world...not alone, at least. They REQUIRE action to turn into anything of value.
So what is it that causes you to switch gears? To question yourself? What is it that causes you to hesitate and hold back from actually taking action? Fear of failure, maybe? Well, I can tell you something I learned as a boy from one of my childhood role models:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
That’s right. Not doing anything IS failing. The importance of making a decision and seeing it through cannot be overstated. After all, business is fluid, and it needs to be adaptable. Going through each day without making mistakes is impossible, and accepting that is the key to growth, which is a requirement for success. Do. Make mistakes. Learn. Grow.
While it IS foolish to make any decision without considering your options, it may be even more foolish to overanalyze the options to the point where it prevents a decision. Without a decision, you have no path forward, and without a path forward, you’re lost, wandering aimlessly and merely hoping to get lucky. You can’t sit around and always hope that there is something better, because guess what: there always is! Always! The catch is this: you can’t magically figure out what it is; you have to create it. You have to actually go through the process.
The important thing to keep in mind is that your first decision is not likely going to be your last: think of it more as a series of related choices that are all heavily impacted by your current perspective, and that will continue to build on one another. Once they are set in motion, that is. The thing is, tweaking, rewriting, and changing are actually not bad at all. In fact, they are necessary! The real issue is when that occurs. As part of the 5 step process, it should actually be happening rather frequently, but only AFTER the initial decision to start as been made. So let’s go through the steps!
When it comes to creating your best option, you have to look at it with a long term perspective. It won’t happen overnight, but you can certainly put the plan into motion. The first thing to do is to figure out what you want, get a general sense of what it looks like to get there, and how you could go about doing it. You need a high level plan. When it comes to planning, I do not mean to specifically plot each step you are going to take and when you will take it, but rather the know the most important high level areas: your end goals, the checkpoints along the way, and the possible tools to use to navigate between those checkpoints.
Why is it so important to not overplan though? Because things change! Life throws you curveballs! The likelihood that your specific plan will get absolutely obliterated is an almost certainty, and you don’t want to get thrown off course when one small thing doesn’t go your way. Like I said, business is adaptable, and you have to be too. If you have higher level goals, you can use different means to reach them, depending on whatever circumstances may have changed since you set off on your quest. The important part is though, that you can still reach them in SOME way.
So you’ve planned. You know where you need to get to in the end and you have a general idea of what you need to accomplish first. Here comes the tough part: Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and trust that with the system in place and the determination, you can accomplish your goals. You have to act. Period. Just do it. Use whatever tools you originally decided to use, and take that first step.
So why stick with it? What does that mean? What about that whole adaptability thing? All in due time! What this really means is that you need to give it enough time to collect the data you need to make your next informed decision. Say you wanted to run a pay per click advertising campaign. Can you really determine that your efforts were a success or a failure based on only a few day’s worth of impressions? Of course you can’t. Maybe you got (un)lucky. Maybe timing just wasn’t right at that moment. Whatever it is, you can’t get a clear picture until you step back for a bit and look at patterns, rather than at individual results. Give it time to gain valuable insight into how your first effort actually played out.
So you’ve done your research, made your initial gameplan, and took your first step. Now what? Well, now that you’ve given it some time, you will start to see what’s actually going on with the decision you made. Here is where the tweaking process actually begins. Here is where you get to tear apart the decision and beat yourself up about how you could have done it better. IF ONLY I’D DONE X INSTEAD OF Y!!!!
Well, you still can.
The world keeps turning, and you have another shot at it, you adaptable decision-maker, you! The important thing to know though is that this isn’t just going to be a hatefest for everything you think you did wrong; you have to also pay very close attention to what you did correctly. Celebrate your victories and know that missing the mark is not a bad thing. It is NOT a failure! Take it from my man, Tommy E:
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
-Thomas Edison (on his “failed” light bulbs)
The key distinction between making a mistake and a failure is your attitude. You don’t fail until you’ve stopped trying, and making mistakes just leads to more knowledge that you can use to succeed. Know the difference. Take a look at everything you’ve done, think about it, reflect on it, and then move to the next step in the process.
At last! We’ve come to the tweaking! So your plan didn’t pan out exactly as planned, and your pay per click campaign fell on its face, or at least that’s how it appeared. Perhaps it worked great in certain areas though, or with certain demographics, or at specific times. The key is, after recognizing those patterns, to take advantage of them. Change your gameplan to trim the weaker areas and beef up the stronger ones.
Think about where you started, the direction in which you decided you would first head, and whether or not that still makes sense. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t! If it doesn’t, move on! Who cares about your original plan, it’s time to adapt! You aren’t where you were. You are where you are. What kinds of things do you need to do differently, either pushing harder or pulling back on a previous strategy? Now that you’ve thought long and hard about it, it’s time for your next decision. Act on what you’ve learned. Try again.
The most important thing to know is that you will never be done with this process. You will find success, you will make mistakes, and most importantly, you will find room to improve. So you know that quote I had way back? That whole thing that said the perfection is the enemy? Well, not quite; it’s all about the perspective. If I wanted to take another stab at that one, I’d probably do some tweaking and rephrase it to say something like:
Progress is the pursuit of perfection.
See what I did there? It’s all about the pursuit! The decision to act to try and achieve! This ain’t no chicken and the egg issue: trying to achieve perfection before attempting to make progress is a fruitless endeavor, but if you try to make the progress, you will ultimately find something close to perfection. If you never get around to acting, you will never find what you’re looking for. If you instead focus on doing, you will find yourself getting closer and closer, one step at a time. The bottom line? Do it. Make progress. Make the decision to act. Time and time again.