Advice for Reaching Your Goals from Someone Who Isn't Perfect

Do you want to write?  Save money?  Get out of debt?  Lose weight?  Start a business?  Declutter and live in a beautiful, just-right minimal home?

Whatever your goal is, if you're anything like me, you worry that you have to have everything figured out ahead of time.  You think you need to:

  • know the perfect diet for your age and metabolism.
  • create a detailed, bullet-point business plan.
  • work out a perfect book outline and final, life-changing climax.
  • have a step-by-step, foolproof plan for getting uncluttered.

You spend so much time grinding on the details that you miss the essential step which every project needs.

The step that makes it all happen.

The step without which everything becomes impossible.

You have to start.

It really doesn't matter if you have it all figured out ahead of time.  It helps to have a final goal in mind, because your brain will get busy planning how to get there.  What matters is that you start.

You don't have to see the whole staircase,
just take the first step.

Martin Luther King Jr.

We fear what we haven't done before, so we avoid it.  I used to think I was the only one who felt like this, but I've since learned that procrastination due to fear is almost universal.

So stop worrying about being absolutely perfect.  Take the first step, even if it's a crappy one.  Take one crappy step, and then the next.

  • Skip Starbucks, and put the $5 in savings.
  • Put a little less on your plate.
  • Get out of your chair and stretch for one minute.
  • Set your timer for five minutes and do a tiny decluttering task.
  • Make the phone call.
  • Write a rough draft.  Bang it out on your computer, and don't worry about all of the details.  Just get that basic idea that's rattling around your head onto paper.  Leave it.  Come back after an hour, or a day.  Editing can be easier than writing.

I'm not perfect at any of this, which makes me a great guide.  I'm not someone you're going to put up on a pedestal or brag about to your friends.  I'm just a woman telling you to get a move on.  (And in the past four years, I've published a dozen books.)

To begin, order doesn't matter.  Perfect structure doesn't matter.  Doing something – anything – matters.  Start applying what you know, and give yourself a base to build on, to add what you learn along the way.

None of these goals is a linear journey.  There's time travel involved in any process.  You start today and go until who knows?  You'll likely do a rewrite (or two or three).  You'll revisit your investment strategy.  You'll try to eat fewer carbs, or you'll go vegetarian.  You'll clear off your walls and live bare for a while.  The hard part is getting started, and being okay with something less than perfect.  After that, all you have to do is tweak the product to make it a little better than what you started with.  That's easier.

Related article:  One Crucial Step Toward Success, and How to Take It

How imperfect works for you.

Do you have a project you've been putting off because you don't have a perfectly-planned and thought-out strategy?  Whatever it is, start doing it.  Start doing it poorly.  You don't have to have a flawless plan, you just have to prove to yourself that you can put a plan together at all.

Now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

John Steinbeck
East of Eden

As long as you acknowledge that it's a work in progress, you'll do fine.

Whatever it is, begin today.  Give yourself something imperfect to fix.  You'll be way better off than you were when you had nothing at all.

Related article:  One Little Word That Can Help You Succeed at Anything

Ready for an experiment?  Experiments are all about discovery and growth.  When we experiment, we become willing to do something we might not otherwise do.  And there's no real failure in an experiment because all results are data.  If something doesn't work the way you hoped, that's simply data that lets you try another behavior to see if it works better.

My book, The Minimalist Experiment,* includes 27 thirty-minute activities and 9 try-it-for-a-day challenges, along with plenty of inspiration and encouragement for your journey toward a simpler life.  Challenge yourself in six life areas:

  • physical clutter
  • digital clutter
  • your mindset
  • your schedule
  • your finances
  • your personal well-being

Big changes comes from tiny steps taken over and over.  One or more of the tasks in The Minimalist Experiment is sure to make a positive difference in your life.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Plus... currently on sale:  My children's book, Fairhaven Christmas Eve.  The hardcover edition is more than 50% off!  Fairhaven Christmas Eve is a tale for young and old that will warm your heart, inspire your imagination, and remind you of all the joys of the season.


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