How to Overcome Perfectionism

Shane Melaugh
October 19, 2020

Perfectionism is a crippling habit.

As a reformed perfectionist myself, I know how bad it can get. Spending endless hours looking for the perfect system, perfect tool, perfect process... instead of getting on with work that matters.

Starting projects, but then getting stuck in an endless cycle of "it's not ready yet", polishing it some more, changing and tweaking a few things and then, guess what... "it's not ready yet" once again.

And just the general feeling of nothing ever being good enough. Nothing ever being worthy, no matter how many hours you've sunk into it.

This whole situation is so unpleasant that most perfectionists avoid it all together. That's why perfectionists are among the best procrastinators on the planet!

But there's good news: the toxic habit of perfectionism can be defeated!

Even if you're suffering from completely debilitating perfectionism, with the right mindset and the right systems, you can solve this problem.

I have done it and so have many of the people I've worked with.

In this conversation, Oliver and myself go through the most effective solutions we've discovered so far.

Note: this is a bonus lesson from our focus & action live class, where we teach how to become extremely productive & reach your goals. Click here to see if enrollment in the class is currently open.

Timestamps & Topics

Here's what we cover in this conversation:

  • Why the mindset of "your job is to ship" is a key concept for perfectionists. (02:20)
  • If you feel like you have to meet high, pre-existing standards before you can publish anything, do this. (05:25)
  • Does overcoming perfectionism mean that you have to abandon your standards and your ambitious goals? (08:18)
  • Why I am more invested in my mid- and long term future results than my immediate results. (10:15)
  • See the big picture, but break it down into small steps. (12:15)
  • Why innate talent and overnight successes are an illusion. (14:08)
  • The epiphany that kicked me out of "planning" and "thinking about" mode and got me shipping. (17:45)
  • How focusing on skill building solves the perfectionism problem. (22:19)
  • Actively seek feedback on your work. (26:20)

We hope you enjoyed this conversation! Check out the ikario Podcast for more content like this, coming soon.

What were your favorite takeaways from this conversation? What will you implement, to beat your perfectionism?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Shane Melaugh

About the author

Shane is a serial entrepreneur with a long-standing obsession for personal development and life optimization. He has a habit of buying more books than he can ever read. During his childhood his worldview was significantly influenced by Jackie Chan movies, the Vorkosigan Saga and the writings of Miyamoto Musashi.

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  • Hey Shane, my problem now with perfectionism is this:

    I don’t know how to create screencasts.

    In fact I don’t know how to make slides and pdf.

    I don’t know what tools or software to use… I’m trying different ones and I’m never satisfied. (Canva sucks for me)

    I want to see the beauty (I know, it’s stupid) in my documents or products… ( Yes, the content si more important…but I want beatiful slides)

    What do you use for create slides?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, Giovanni!

      We all start with “I don’t know” for everything we ever do. So don’t worry about that. All of this stuff is learnable and the best, fastest and most effective way to learn is to create and ship things.

      As for the aesthetics of your work: this is just another skill. What I recommend is to start with templates. You can find great, free templates here (and in many other places). Designing something from scratch is extraordinarily difficult and requires a lot of skill. But start with templates and you have something that looks beautiful right away. You can then start building your design skill (if you want to), by making tweaks and trying to create your own designs. And again: the fastest, most effective way to level up your design skill is to create and publish a lot of design work.

      • Thanks Shane…another question for curiosity.

        How is your typical day?
        For example when you exercise?
        When you read a book (fiction and non fiction)?

        Same hour every day or depend from mood of the moment?

        • Shane Melaugh says:

          Hi Giovanni,

          In the morning, I follow a pretty steady routine that involves some movement and exercise, some writing and meditation. Then I start work. Up until around noon, I tend to follow similar habits every day. But in the afternoon, it really depends on what I’m working on at the moment. Sometimes, I continue doing work, sometimes it’s mostly meetings and conversations.
          Reading is something I actually need to build a habit for, because I recently noticed that I’m not doing it as consistently as I’d like to.
          For exercise, it also depends a lot. I always do some exercise in the morning. Some days, I do many small workouts throughout the day, some days I just do 2-3 sessions. And sometimes, when I feel like my body needs more rest, I don’t work out at all, that day.
          So for me, having structure in the morning but lots of flexibility in the afternoon is what works best at the moment.

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