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Waiting for Perfect Alignment

Our fears present themselves in many different ways – procrastination, frustration, anger, excuses, and so on. The easiest way to prolong anything is waiting for perfect alignment. You know, “I can’t do X because Y isn’t in place yet.”

perfect alignmentWhen I was working in the corporate world, it usually looked like:

  • I can’t apply for that job because I don’t match the job posting 100%.
  • I’m not ready for a promotion because I haven’t been at the company long enough.
  • I’m not a leader because I don’t have any experience with people management.

As a solopreneur, my alignment excuses have presented in many ways, recently:

  • I can’t launch my new design because it’s not perfect yet.
  • I am not ready to write a new book because the first two weren’t best sellers.
  • I can’t pursue an exciting opportunity because it does not match my current trajectory.

The funny thing is, I’ve found that we’re all waiting for perfect alignment before we take risks of any kind. Whether we’re using perfection as a comparison tool or as a procrastination method, it’s holding all of us back.

Stop Waiting for Perfection

I wish I had a guaranteed method to walk you through to start bursting through your perfection and alignment ideals, but honestly, it’s hard work – and not a one-size-fits-all solution. But here’s what I know for sure:

  • You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.
  • The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.
  • Perfect alignment will never come.

You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.

Good piece of advice there, no? A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my friends and we were talking about going out on our own and why some people make it “big” while others don’t. Because they actually put themselves out there to try.”

That conversation and our eventual landing place, has never stopped bouncing around in my mind. Sure there are people out there who may be more qualified, or better equipped, or more experienced, or…. (enter any excuse here). But they are doing it while you just continue to ponder all of the things that can go wrong.

There is never going to be a job description that matches your skills 100%. You are never going to be hired for a job you don’t apply to. Your niche market is not going to be completely untapped. Your website isn’t going to be perfect – ever. But if you don’t apply, or pick a market, or publish the site – you won’t be any closer to your goals.

The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.

We’ve all failed – some more than others. And guess what – we’ve lived to tell the story. Sure it isn’t always easy or kind to our egos, but it’s a big part of learning. “Failure” teaches us what not to do again and forces us how to try again.

If you don’t get the job offer – it’s not failure, but a good indication that you weren’t a good fit with the company (or vice versa). And how awesome is it to know that before you spend your time and energy onboarding?

Perfect alignment will never come.

I used to wait for perfection – for a sign of complete alignment. For completing steps 1 – 4 so then step 5 can be PERFECT. I hate to tell you this, but it has never happened. I spent YEARS thinking and pondering and doing the what-if treadmill.

And I missed out on doing while waiting for alignment. I denied myself the joy of writing because I was waiting for a “sign” that people would want to read what I wrote. I didn’t travel because I was waiting for the perfect mate to travel with.

Stop waiting for everything to align perfectly. It’s NEVER going to happen. Perfection or the idea of perfection, does not allow you to pursue. To create. To explore. To achieve. To be you.

Start doing – take little steps if the big ones seem overwhelming. Stop saying one day and start going after the things you want, even if things aren’t “lined up.”

What are you stalling on? How does perfection alignment present itself in your life? 

4 comments

Mak - February 11, 2013 Reply

Dude, Melissa, I’m basically in love with your words. Thanks so much for your prophetic words. I’m sure they’re changing lives of people who read them. They’ve already started to change mine 🙂

melissalywc - February 12, 2013 Reply

@openid-162826:disqus  Thanks for the very kind words – much appreciated. Hopefully they are thought starters, at the very least. Glad that this post has resonated with you. 🙂 

Mac Prichard - February 18, 2013 Reply

Wise advice, Melissa. My first month at graduate school — a midcareer program in public administration — everybody agonized over our first round of papers thinking they had to be perfect. Eventually, someone pointed out the obvious: the assignment didn’t have to be perfect, it had to be done. After that the class motto became “done is good.” 

melissalywc - February 18, 2013 Reply

Thanks @f5088249c628fa54eb48eb0d5e04eb5f:disqus – good point! You can’t get credit for anything unless you’ve done it. And within businesses and careers, done is always better than not starting; and done is more achievable than perfect!  

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