You want to tackle that blog post on that one topic, but you’re not an expert.
You want to create that eBook but everyone else has already written an eBook and they’ve done it better than you.
You want to reach out to an influencer with the hopes of collaborating, but they’ve never heard of you.
You want to take a short course in a topic you know will be useful, but it looks overwhelming.
You want to create a course for your audience but where do you even start? And you’ve hardly got time for your work as it is, how would you ever fit this in?
We have so many dreams, and twice as many things holding us back.
Can you imagine, though, if everyone who ever created anything waited until they were an expert to do so? Half of the things we have today wouldn’t exist. This is why there’s so many iPhones. Steve Jobs didn’t just release this bad boy in 2007 then sit down and go “ok, that’s done” – Apple keeps revising, innovating, improving, but letting you still have earlier versions that plenty of people are plenty satisfied with.
You can do the same. You can get out a version that’s done but not perfect, and keep upgrading as you go. And that right there is the mantra you need to remember, the five words pasted on the wall of Facebook Headquarters, the battle cry of the young and the hungry: Done is Better than Perfect.
We all know if you wait for perfection, you’ll never get finished. Or if you do ever finish, you’re too late and the trend has passed, your knowledge is obsolete, or there is no consumer demand for your product any more. Or worse – someone else did it and they were successful and theirs wasn’t even as good as yours.
Seth Godin is famous for a lot of things, but one thing comes up time and time again among you and me and the people in our industry is the catchcry: ship it. It’s his version of “done is better than perfect” – just get the thing out there. Just ship your product already, whether that’s a physical product, your eBook, your blog post, it doesn’t matter. Get your creation in the hands of the people.
So what is holding you back? Why are you waiting for perfection? Is it fear? Are you afraid of being criticised? Are you afraid of selling a sub-par item, or even one that is good but not your best work? What will people say? Will they be disappointed they spent their time or money on you? And tell you that?
Darren recently published a podcast about the three questions you can ask yourself when you’re afraid, if that’s your roadblock. Is it the quest for perfection that’s stalling your creativity? Is it the fear of getting into the big leagues? Is it what people might say about you? You really need to recognise the roadblocks so you can minimise or eliminate them.
One of the best things you can do is sit down and write out what it is that’s holding you back. Setting it all down on paper really helps you see what it is you’re afraid of (especially if you haven’t quite articulated it yet), and give you some perspective about how you can tackle these issues so you can just ship.
Then there’s that whole thing about overwhelm, and how it holds us back from even starting on our project. Yes we want to write an eBook, but man, what a giant job! You can no longer bang out a few sentences in Word, put a cover on it, convert to PDF and chuck it up on your site (or can you?!) – there’s a multitude of things you have to consider. Huge things, things that will potentially decide whether you succeed or fail, things that need attention and decisions and actual work to bring to life.
So just start. Before you can just ship, or just do, you have to just start [tweet that!]. Open a new document and type some title ideas, maybe your first sentence, a link to someone’s blog you want to interview, a colour scheme – anything that begins your journey. You may very well leave it untouched for the next six months, but you’ve made a small start. You’re well on your way to getting it done, and then you can think about making it perfect. Later.
Every time you can, take the next step on the road to getting it done. Pick an image editing program you will use. Find or take a great cover photo. Decide on a font. Write a chapter. Send an email… just keep moving. Before you know it, all these baby steps will add up to a product that is done.
‘Oh, I want to do it completely behind a cloak and then [remove] the cloak and everyone knows how wonderful and what a genius I am cause they think the product is so wonderful.’ That’s actually rarely the winning strategy. The actual winning strategy is ‘I’m moving, I’m getting out there and I’m adapting at a fast rate.’
You’re missing out
Hoffman also said this golden piece of advice that helps all of us remember everyone is in the same boat – or they were, before they were successful:
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Don’t wait until it’s perfect. Just get it done. And when it embarrasses you, do it better.
What are you waiting to do? What is one step you can take to get it done?
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.