Choose Progress Over Perfection: Embrace Messy Action

How often does having everything “right” get in your way of taking NO action? Do you ever feel paralyzed, afraid to make a wrong decision, or take the wrong action? Is it possible that your quest for perfection may be hindering your growth and stifling your creativity?

In various aspects of life, whether it’s starting a new job, learning a new skill, or pursuing a passion project, the desire to have everything just right can often prevent us from taking any action at all. But what if we reframed our mindset and embraced the concept of “taking messy action” instead?

Embracing Imperfect Action: My Journey

Today, I will share with you my journey of embracing imperfect action and its impact on my personal and professional growth.

Reflecting on my own journey of creating videos over the past year, I struggled with my expectations of myself and the quality of the videos I created. Starting with an idea, I approached the process with meticulous planning and scripting.  However, as the demands on my time increased, I recognized the need to streamline and adapt to a more flexible method. This shift led me to embrace the idea of “taking messy action”. Instead of meticulously planning every detail, I began focusing more on communicating a relatable message.

My “Secrets” Explained

Next, using an iPhone 13 and a small tripod (or light ring stand), the video is recorded in 720p on the normal video setting (cinematic mode is cool, but takes longer to upload). Using my simple script, and a small inexpensive Lavalier microphone clipped onto my clothing (and plugged into my iPhone) I start recording. Everything is shot in one long take, full of “ums” and empty space, where I think over what I want to say next. Raw video recordings vary from 15 to 40 minutes (watch the latest video), edited down to 5 to 15 minutes.

Then, videos upload automatically (and sometimes slowly) from my iPhone to iCloud. From there, they can be downloaded from iCloud to your PC, and uploaded into the user-friendly editing app Descript. This free software transcribes your video, allowing you to edit from a type-written script. With minor editing and time, you can easily create a simple “talking head” video. Uploading to YouTube is a snap. But, full disclosure, I didn’t figure this out all on my own. My IT guy provided me with guidance on everything (and still does). He was also quick to warn me that there is a steep learning curve with YouTube. So here we are.

Fact Versus Fiction

This shift in thinking from meticulous scripting to taking messy action allows me to face my perfectionist tendencies head-on. By focusing on my expertise and speaking authentically from the heart, I found that I could deliver content that resonated more deeply with my audience. Despite the clutter in my office and the need for editing, my videos better reflect the reality of the creative process—a journey filled with imperfections and valuable learning opportunities.

But, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and worrying that we (or what we’re doing) are not good enough.

In the past, June Cleaver was a TV role model for women. Over the years, women’s magazines have contributed to creating a distorted view of how we see ourselves. Now, in the digital age, comparison has taken a radical shift where we literally cannot discern fact from fiction. As a society, we’re measuring ourselves, our work, and our lives against carefully curated highlight reels, and AI-enhanced images we see in the media. It’s easy to believe that perfection and success were effortlessly achieved in a single take, much like the flawless scenes from our favorite movies.

However, the truth is far from perfect. Just as behind-the-scenes footage reveals the countless retakes and meticulous planning required to create those cinematic moments, our journeys are marked by trial and error, perseverance, and growth opportunities.

Strategies for Embracing Imperfection

In a world where perfection and beauty are often glorified and imperfections are hidden, it’s important to remember that growth comes from embracing our flaws and setbacks. Each stumble is a step forward, and every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve.

In my experience, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of embracing imperfection and recognizing that progress is more important than perfection. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment or conditions to begin, I encourage you to take messy action—start where you are, with what you have, and trust in the process.

One of the important lessons I’ve learned is that perfectionism is not only unattainable but is also counterproductive. It robs us of valuable opportunities for growth, innovation, and self-discovery. By releasing the pressure to be flawless and embracing the messy, imperfect journey, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences.

Focus on Living a Richer Life  

So, how can we overcome the paralysis of perfectionism and embrace messy actions in our own lives?

Consider these simple strategies:

  1. Be Realistic:  Recognize that people often show only what they want others to see. Life is messy and wonderful, not carefully curated.
  2. Take Imperfect Action: Instead of waiting until you feel “ready”, embrace the uncertainty and trust in your ability to figure things out along the way.
  3. Focus on Progress: Celebrate small victories and acknowledge that progress, not perfection, is the ultimate goal.

Perfectionism is not the path to success; it’s a roadblock that impedes our progress and stifles our creativity. By embracing messy action and letting go of the need for perfection, we free ourselves to explore, innovate, and grow. So instead of fixating on living a picture-perfect life, let’s focus on living a richer life—one filled with authenticity, growth, and fulfillment.

If you are tired of waiting for the perfect moment to pursue your goals, or you find yourself paralyzed by the fear of imperfection – it’s time to break free and embrace the power of messy action!  Schedule a free intro call to learn how Valuegenic Self-Leadership can help.  Let’s explore the action you want to take, and how you can start living a richer, more fulfilling life!


Kristin Clark is an Axiogencs LLC Partner and Certified Axiogenics Coach. She’s the owner of Insight Coaching and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head which she proudly wrote with her dad. She’s coached hundreds of people from a range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. Kristin trains and coaches owners, executives, and business leaders seeking to become Valuegenic Self-Leaders.  Kristin can help you master your A-Game, enhance your performance, embrace your relationships, engage your team, elevate your leadership, and enrich your life. | | YouTube