Last week, I shared about a dilemma that many of us face. That is — in spite of knowing what we want, we delay the decisions or actions that will help move us toward our desired outcome. This post continues a series of reflections about reasons that we delay action, and how we can get "unstuck".
If you didn't see last week's post about waiting for permission, I invite you to check it out. This week I'm focusing on a reason that I personally know very well — waiting for perfection. This is going out especially to all the other recovering perfectionists out there. You know who you are!
You may be waiting for perfection if you resist taking action because you are waiting for just the right....something. It might be the right time...the right person...the right circumstances...the right mood...the right ______ (fill in the blank).
Now, it is certainly true that circumstances can be more or less favorable to the success of any action. However, it is also true that the "perfect" situation never occurs — and that successful action is based from the inside out...not the outside in. In other words, success begins with your commitment to take action, and to create circumstances that facilitate a successful outcome.
If you are stuck and delaying action because you are waiting for the perfect circumstances, working with a professional coach can help you design a path forward. Doing some self-inquiry can also help to break open this logjam. If you'd like to work on this on your own, a journal is a great tool to use. Here are some questions to ask yourself and to journal about:
Owning your why. What is the commitment behind the action that you are wanting to take? What makes the action important to you?
Owning your competing commitments. What worries arise when you consider taking action? What commitments are behind these worries?
Owning your assumptions. What circumstances do you believe would create the ideal environment for you to take successful action? What do you believe will happen if those aren't present? What assumptions could you challenge in order to move forward?
As you expand your awareness about the dynamics keeping you stuck, you have an opportunity to choose to take imperfect action. These additional questions can guide you to an action step:
- Is the action that you are wanting to take the ONLY way to honor that commitment? Brainstorm a list of other ways that you could move yourself forward in the area that is important to you.
- How can you take action in a way that will honor competing commitments? Review and expand your brainstorming list to include actions that move you forward while addressing your concerns. Notice which ones resonate most with you.
- What assumptions could you challenge in order to move forward? Choose and implement an action step that allows you to test your assumption. Notice what happens and be willing to adjust your perspective and your action plan.
John Lennon once said "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." None of us can arrange perfect circumstances or perfect results - and we are wise not to let the illusion of control paralyze us. When we are willing to stay curious, take imperfect action, and learn from our experiences, we will build self-wisdom and find a path that works for us.
Where are you willing to take imperfect action? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below!