I had a big goal before the clock struck midnight on the last day of 2018:
My goal was to let go of my most recent book (The Best Self-Help Book Ever Written), and just get it published already.
This was easier said than done. For those of you who know me, I do have a certain level of perfectionism that one might even refer to as OCD.
I read with every spare second I can get. At any given time, I am reading between 3 and 5 books. The library is one of my favorite places of all time. In my constant reading, I am always devouring books on personal development and self-improvement. That’s where the idea for The Best Self-Help Book Ever Written came from. I realized that so many self-help books contained insane amounts of filler and just a bit too much self-aggrandizement. I mean, no one will argue that Tony Robbins helps countless people, but he also drops more names than a clumsy census enumerator.
And I have to read about it for like 50 pages.
So I thought: what if there was a self-help book that covered several areas of personal development and didn’t waste any time on celebrity hoo-ha?
Oh and it has to be a little funny. I mean, everyone likes to be entertained while they are developing themselves.
Oh and cheap. It has to be inexpensive.
But I had already put some pressure on myself just by naming the book: I mean The Best Self-Help Book Ever Written ? Now, of course, the title is meant to reflect the humor in the book, but I was also taking it very seriously. I pretty much finished the book before RJ was born, but then kept stalling on the editing.
In fact, after RJ was born, I was independently contracted for a few writing jobs. Crazy, right? I could have been editing my book during that time.
Then it struck me: I was procrastinating.
I have read dozens and dozens of books on how to make your personal book a smashing success. I have read dozens of books on how to market. And, do you know what? All of that information can be thoroughly crippling.
You see, I realized that I could spend years doing a great launch and doing a great marketing campaign or getting the perfect release.
OR I could release it for New Year’s and hopefully help people with their resolutions.
Yes, the last one please. That sounds better.
Especially as a new mom, I realized that I don’t want to make myself crazy over minor differences. I remember in college a friend of mine had a poster that read something to the affect of “Mediocrity: it takes a lot less time and most people won’t even know the difference until it’s too late.” It always made me laugh.
Though I would never go for mediocrity in anything I do (except probably the laundry: note that I never buy clothing that wrinkles easily), there is a good point there. Sometimes “done” is better than “perfect.”
Are you an athlete that gets crippled with the idea of giving up a homerun? I used to, and so I would end up walking a lot of batters so as not to give them the chance.
Are you an athlete who doesn’t practice for fear of doing something wrong?
Hey, remember that part where pitching is supposed to be fun? Remember the part where you enjoy your sport?
That stuff is important too. And you don’t get to enjoy it if you are constantly trying to be absolutely perfect.
It think it was Amanda Scarborough who said, “Strive for perfect knowing that it is impossible.”
These are really words to live by. You have to do your best. You have to throw yourself into your craft. You have to be dedicated.
But at a certain point, you also have to be reasonable. You have to believe that you have done everything you can and stop stressing about it.
So is the book published? Yes. You can get it here. Did I use all my fancy marketing techniques? No. And I only edited it three times. That still might sound like a lot to some people, but I mostly didn’t hand in any college papers without reading them about six times, so this is a huge change.
Take a minute and reflect this week: where are you being lazy in your ambitions and where are you paralyzed by the fact that you want to do everything perfectly? Take the items that fit into the last category and just allow yourself to finish them. Be better through all of your efforts without the expectation of being perfect.
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