Announcement! This week I will officially launch my podcast, #LFG (stay tuned!), so you can listen to me talking about my Motivational Monday concepts whenever you want - try to hold back your excitement! Now, I stated I was going to launch #LFG 4 weeks ago - so why, you may ask, did it take me so long to launch an episode?
The answer, Perfectionism.
I'm a serial perfectionist, I have been since I was a young girl. I remember my 2nd grade teacher calling a meeting with my Mom to discuss my "erasing" problem. Basically, any time I would make a mistake or doubt my answers, I would erase whatever I had written - sounds totally normal, right? The problem was that I was erasing so aggressively, that I would actually rip the paper up...all while crying. My mom had to teach me how to erase more gently and tried to explain that it was okay to make mistakes, we all do! Welp, sorry, Mom - I definitely was not listening.
I think many women can resonate with this story (well, maybe not this exact story), most of us are perfectionists. I used to be proud of it, I thought it made me a better student, daughter, entrepreneur and employee. But I found over the years is that it's done the exact opposite and I've had to work VERY hard to keep it in line. Perfectionism has blinded me from seizing opportunities, slowed me down and paralyzed me from starting new projects or asking for what I deserve - hence why this podcast has taken 4 weeks by way of an impeccably organized closet and me ordering all of the "essential" equipment to launch :).
I do not want the same thing to happen to you! So today we're going to kick Perfectionism to the curb and embrace Opportunity and Persistence - what I like to call P.O.P.!
So, let’s start with Perfectionism. Perfectionism is the #1 excuse for not getting started on your business, goals, health improvement, etc. What do I mean by perfectionism? It's that little voice that creeps into your head whenever you start to dream about a goal for yourself, that negative voice that immediately says: I’m not ready, I don’t have the knowledge, the skills, the experience, the credentials, the equipment, the money, the time, etc, etc, etc.
As women, it’s been proven that to a much larger degree than men, we are more concerned about being under qualified. We feel the need to be over prepared, to wait until we think we are ready so that we don’t embarrass ourselves, so that we don’t feel like an imposter, etc. That is perfectionism at its core - the urge to make everything perfect before we can start. It's the idea that you put off your goals for "when" or "after" - I'll record the podcast WHEN I have the equipment, AFTER I clean up the entire house, AFTER I take that year long course which teaches me knowledge that will be outdated by the time I graduate anyway.
Everyone I know that has been successful, including myself, started before they were ready - and just learned as they went. I didn’t know a single thing about producing clothing or running a business when I started Ellsworth & Ivey 8 years ago - I was a film major in college, I’d never taken one business, accounting or marketing class, I took ONE 10 day long fashion construction course. I had zero money, I moved to New York with $114 in my bank account, no job and 130K in student loan debt...but I never let these “facts” stop me.
The point is, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I didn’t concern myself with what credentials and experience I should have before I started. I just started, took one day at a time and figured it out. For most of us, this idea of needing a certain amount of skills, experience, knowledge, money and preparation before you can start your business or tackle your goals will paralyze you from every starting.
Here is a little secret. No one one is even paying attention to you, nor do they care - especially now. So if you start today, even when the circumstances are messy and imperfect, by the time someone actually does notice - you will not only be further along but you will be so much smarter than when you started! You're going to have to start somewhere, so why not start today?
So this week, I challenge you to let life BE MESSY, embrace the chaos and lean into it. Life will not stop while it waits for you to check every box you think you need to before you can achieve your goals. It will keep spinning on without you, while others who embrace the chaos and uncertainty succeed around you.
Now that we've tackled perfectionism, let's talk about the good stuff - Opportunity! But we can't talk about opportunity without acknowledging the elephant in the room, EXCUSES. Yes, in order to achieve your goals, I'm sorry to have to tell you but you're going to have to drop the excuses.
When I was a kid, one of the greatest (but at the time, incredibly annoying) gifts I learned from my parents came in 5 words, repeated over and over and over. Can’t is NOT a word. There is a solution to every problem, whether it's around, over or under - there is always a solution - you just have to look for the opportunity. You can figure out anything if you just roll up your sleeves, get messy and try. The problem is that most of us stop before even trying because we determine ahead of time that we “can’t” do something, it’s not possible, achievable, I’m not good enough, etc. We come to a conclusion and quit before ever even starting the project!
My very first job in NYC was as the Assistant to the COO of a TV Production company - remember, I was a film major! This job will probably be the closest I'll ever come to the acting career I dreamed of, as I basically was starring in my own version of The Devil Wears Prada. All trauma aside, she taught me the invaluable lesson of looking for solutions and opportunities in the face of challenges.
When I walked into her office on my first day, this is what she told me (if you can envision her sitting there with an unlit cigarette between her bright pink lips, a lighter in one hand and a can of diet coke in the other, that may paint a more accurate image of the situation):
- If you ever walk into my office with a problem and no solution, get out, you're fired!
- And if you do come up with a solution, but you don't have the answers to the next 5 questions I'm going to ask you about that solution, get out, you're fired!
This brings us to our last, and my personal favorite P, Persistence. I truly believe to become a successful entrepreneur it's less about the products you sell and more about your persistence. How badly do you want it? When times are tough, as they are now, are you going to stay in it? How much are you going to fight when you’re in a corner?
Persistence is all about making progress, and progress is all we can ask of ourselves when times are tough or when we're starting out. Just not giving up on your goal is progress. Did I move forward 1" today? If so, that is progress, you have to just keep moving.
On a personal note, I have felt recently like I’ve been backed into a corner. I own 3 closed down retail stores and a clothing company that relies off of sales in those/other closed down retail stores. It’s been incredibly challenging and there have been moments where I felt bad for myself. Moments when I wanted to sit down and cry, to cover my eyes and hope that it all went away.
But then I remember that crying in the corner doesn't move me forward even the slightest bit. And so I may be in the corner at this moment, but I promise you, I’m swinging as hard as I can at whatever is coming at me. I'm looking for the opportunity/opening to move even the slightest inch forward - and when I do, I’m making progress. Eventually those inches will become feet and those feet yards and those yards miles until one day, I’ll look bad and realize I’m in an entirely different location, miles away from this moment.
Challenging times (which is what we're living in) force you to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. You are the only one responsible for your actions in the face of challenge. Who do you want to see looking back at you? Would you be proud of who you see? Proud of how you showed up for the challenge, for how you leaned into it?
So this is where I leave you this week my friends, with my P.O.P. thoughts. Don't let perfectionism and excuses stop you from ever starting your dreams. There is no time like the present. So #LFG.
Rooting for you!