It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect, It Just Has To Be Something

Supporting friends, running a business, making good choices, being politically involved - it doesn't have to be perfect. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Click through for a pep talk and good ideas!

I see my friend across the noisy bar and I immediately blush and smile awkwardly.

Seven months ago, my friend went through Something Awful. The sort of thing they write country songs about and base made-for-tv movies on. I was heartbroken for her! I was vicariously incensed! I had no idea what to say to her so I didn’t say anything!

Now this friend – the one who has spent the last half-year rebuilding her life with zero support from me – is making her way through the crowd in my direction.

And as soon as she is within hearing distance I start babbling a strange combination of small talk questions and reasons/excuses for why she hasn’t heard from me.

“I’m so sorry, dude. I wanted to write you the world’s most perfect card and I didn’t know what to say, so I just didn’t say anything. And that’s awful and you deserve better and I’m really sorry. Seriously, I’m so sorry. ”

She waits me out and then puts her hand on my arm and says, “Sarah, it didn’t have to be perfect. It just had to be something.”

Of course, I teared up and we hugged, and I vowed to do better in pretty much every arena of my life and our conversation moved on to her plans for the holiday season and aren’t the fries at this place great?

Unsurprisingly, her words stayed with me and I’ve started applying them to other parts of my life.

Because here’s the thing: Perfectionism isn’t actually about perfection. It’s about procrastination and fear of vulnerability. Click To Tweet
If we don’t move forward till something is perfect – what luck! – we never have to move forward! We never have to make ourselves vulnerable to rejection or failure. We never have to feel awkward or worry that we’re doing the wrong thing because we’re not doing anything.

If you know you should be doing something, don’t hide in perfectionism.

When your friend loses a parent, goes through a health crisis, or gets divorced, your support doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. Don’t spend so long searching for the perfect words that you don’t say anything.

You can shoot her an email. You can spend 60 seconds writing out a fond memory of their late parent. You can send him a text that says “thinking of you today.”

When your senator votes to deport Dreamers or your mayor makes racist comments, don’t wait till you’ve crafted the perfect call script or fax. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. You can leave a voicemail after hours that just says “We’re disappointed in your policies and behavior and will be voting accordingly.”

If you’re trying to buy fewer things you don’t need or save up for a big exciting purchase, you don’t have to avoid Target for the rest of your life. You don’t have to de-clutter down to, like, two t-shirts and one vase. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something.

Don’t wait till the perfect moment to get your finances figured out. Once wedding season is past? When this big work project is over? You can unsubscribe from J. Crew’s newsletter. You can bring lunch to work once a week.

We hide in perfectionism when we’re not sure which step to take next. More often than not, the right step is ANY step. Click To Tweet

But I want to hear from you! Are you a recovering perfectionist? If you are, how’d you get past it? Have you ever used perfection as an excuse not to do something?

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 support and accountability to get past your perfectionism, I can help with that!

photo by Jose Llamas // cc


Veronica Schmeltzer

“Perfectionism isn’t actually about perfection. It’s about procrastination and fear of vulnerability.”

WOW – you hit me hard with that one.

Great article!!!


Ugh, story of my life. Can’t find the perfect gift for a friend? Well, then I guess I’ll just have to ignore their birthday. Thank you for this reminder that I shouldn’t live my life in fear of disappointing people for not doing the perfect thing at every point.


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