Don’t Let Perfectionism Keep You From Taking Action

A version of this article originally appeared on and was graciously provided by Paula Black. Paula is one of the world’s leading business and professional development coaches for lawyers, entrepreneurs & service providers, award-winning author & speaker.

Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, perfectionism means that you have high standards and that you expect the best from those around you. On the other hand, perfectionism can be paralyzing.

In my coaching practice, I have the privilege of advising many high-performing lawyers. They are great lawyers, at least in part, because they are perfectionists. But as I help them see, it can also keep them from making progress if they aren’t careful. 

Many people — lawyers, business owners, professionals — have big dreams for their lives. But they struggle to act on those dreams. They keep shoving them back in the desk drawer because their plans aren’t “perfect” yet.

Let me tell you: Perfect doesn’t exist! There is always something that you can improve. If you wait until your big idea is perfect before you take action, you’ll never get started. 

I know that you have big dreams. And I want 2024 to be the year that you make big progress chasing those dreams. Here are four tips to help you do it:

1. Don’t let a “fear of failure” control you.

Many of us were raised to fear failure. In school, when we made a mistake we got a big, fat “X” in red ink on our paper. Maybe our peers made fun of us for a wrong answer. At work, our bosses would chew us out if we did something wrong. But you can’t let the fear of somebody else’s judgment hold you back. It’s your life, and you’re the only person who gets to live it. Tell the naysayers to take a hike! 

2. Remember it’s about progress not perfection.

If you wait for everything to be perfect before you make your next move, you’ll be waiting your entire life. Nothing is ever perfect, and so instead, focus on making progress toward your goals. It’s much better to take imperfect action than to do nothing. 

3. Learn to see failure as an opportunity.

Thomas Edison is one of the greatest inventors the world has ever known. And do you know what he reportedly said about failure? 

“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

That’s the right attitude! A “failure” just means that you need to make a change. That you need a different strategy or a different plan of action. Failure takes you one step closer to your ultimate goal because when you fail, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistake and come back stronger the next time. Don’t fear failure, embrace it.

4. Connect to your passions and have fun. 

I have found that people are most concerned about making a mistake when they are trying to conform to someone else’s standards, whether that’s their boss, their business partner, their spouse, a colleague, a client or whoever it may be. On the other hand, when we connect to our own authentic passions and find joy in life, all of a sudden, we’re not so scared to make a mistake. Be yourself! Chase your dreams, not the dreams that the rest of the world tells you to pursue. 

I want you to choose progress over perfection. Chase your dreams and take imperfect action to get you closer to achieving your goals. Let’s make it happen!

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