Tag Archives: 2012

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Round-About Resolutions for a Perfectionist

I don’t really make new year’s resolutions (maybe cuz I am worried that using the term “resolution” will jinx me somehow), but if there was one thing I would focus on improving in 2012, it would be to reach out to others more for feedback in my endeavors and to experiment more publicly. (Okay, okay, it’s a resolution.)

I am a huge perfectionist. I get it from my mother and grandmother, who both said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” (Nevermind that “right” is a totally amorphous undertaking.) Until reading an article from Dr. Jeff Szymanski, the author of The Perfectionist’s Handbook, I never really connected my perfectionism with my likelihood to trudge forward on personal projects without much input from others. But apparently it is endemic of perfectionists to behave this way, and it makes perfect sense. Dr. Szymanksi outlines the tendency for perfectionists to think that showing a product to others in a potentially imperfect state creates the impression — primarily and perhaps even only to the perfectionist — that they aren’t showing their best work and are therefore performing below par, an assumption that makes one tend to hold something close to the chest until the very last moment. Yet he argues that early feedback and involvement from others can provide a stepping stone from which to make a number of previously unconsidered modifications that can allow any endeavor to shine that much more brightly. He argues that in order to be a true perfectionist, one has to go beyond their ingrained perfectionistic habits and put the imperfect product up on the critique board.

He also talks about how procrastination is a main theme for perfectionists. If we feel we can’t do it perfectly, then we may never get a start.

I like mulling on the topic of perfectionism especially at this time of year, as it is often our over-inflated expectations of ourselves that keep us from actually achieving any new years resolutions we may have set for ourselves. Perhaps the answer isn’t in setting lower expectations, but in understanding that striving is most important, and that we are never really going to fully arrive. It’s good to leave room for unexpected twists and surprises. Maybe the outside world will give feedback that will point things in a new direction, or priorities will shift… Or even doing a little bit is better than doing nothing. After all, we never really ever fulfill our potential, as our potential only grows as we grow.

In Jonathan Fields’ book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance, he talks a lot about leaning into our doubts and opening up our endeavors to the input of others, sometimes in a very public way. It can create accountability, but also it allows us to lean on the genius of others in reaching for our goals. And of course I’m talking Goals here with a capital G… Starting that book that’s been lurking in the back of your mind, lighting a fire under your business, evolving your painting passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

You could set some resolutions that are easy to achieve, low-hanging fruit that will make you feel accomplished, something to keep you inspired to do more. I have a friend whose resolution last year was to wear more suits, and he achieved that one with aplomb. Mine this year is to be more compassionate, especially with myself… A little more esoteric, but one that I am certain I will accomplish, and even moreso with the added focus of making it my resolution. The big Resolutions are ones that I am not so sure I will achieve, if I am to be honest, but that I am dedicated to making progress on. Blogging consistently, sharing more with my social networks, experimenting and helping others as much as possible through the sharing of information and ideas. All of these things have been on my radar some way in the past, and every year I gain more progress, improve my habits, build better and better foundations. I’m even more successful when I overcome my tendency to ferret something away until it feels perfect enough… Which it never does. Learning to live with that artist idiosyncrasy is the best thing I have gained as an adult, because I can more easily fulfill my promise of being more compassionate with myself when I remember it.

So perhaps this year’s ultimate goal for me is to give in to the process and reduce my stranglehold on perfection. After all, in a constantly evolving world — especially the landscape of communication, society and business called the internet — one is best served by leaning into the community and innovating real-time than letting ideas of perfectionism cause one to stagnate and lose relevancy. Feedback is something that is inevitable anyway, and the earlier one receives feedback, the earlier one can change course or reconsider… or the earlier one can come to terms with the fact that they are going to do it their way no matter what. Perfectionism is a moving target. Connection and evolution thrive on communication and the willingness to experiment and put things out there.

And a good dose of compassion can help us along the way as the Road of Resolutions makes its twists and turns throughout 2012. Here’s hoping that yours starts off with a wonderful wind in your sails.

New Year, New Marketing

It’s a trend I’ve noticed… New year, new marketing. Right around the holidays, or at the jump start of January, the clients come a-callin’. They are ready to start that new website or are finally ready to build that product that’s been lurking in the back of their minds since last summer. With the Christmas gifts paid off and an enthusiastic eye toward the new year, they are ready to embark upon that next step project that will elevate them further in their business.

But maybe you aren’t feeling so certain about where to go with your marketing in 2012.

What do you do when you’re frozen, and you don’t know what to tackle next? Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the number of materials you think you need to get properly started with your business, to have a professional image. Or finances might just be feeling a little too tight after that big Christmas splurge.

Here are a few things to consider when you are asking yourself, “What’s next for my marketing?”

  • Think of marketing materials as profitability tools. What items would help increase your bottom line in an obvious or even unusual way? Can you answer more questions on your web site to save you or your assistants some bandwidth in phone calls? Have you considered adding affiliate marketing for products you love to your quarterly newsletter? Perhaps a pile of business cards in the hands of just the right referring client can get you some incredible results?
  • Go with the biggest bang for your buck. Maybe for you having a kickass illustrated logo isn’t as important as having a baseline website out there so people can start finding you. Or perhaps your industry is better served by placing a few strategic listings on websites like Citysearch and Yelp than starting right away with a full-blown web site. Be strategic in how you use your cash, especially if it’s tight. Get some outside advice from various sources on where you should start first, and work your way outward. Sometimes it’s okay to take it one step at a time.
  • Make do with something simple, if money is tight. Often we want to put out the best image we can for our business, and there are times when getting a slick image together from the get go is extremely important. But maybe you can start out with less than you think. You might want the perfect web site pronto, but while you’re gathering the cash and seeing the project through, you might be missing some important opportunities because no one can find you yet. If you are building a blog, for instance, getting your content out there and building traffic is more important than having the most beautiful blog site west of the Mississippi. Building a blog audience takes time and committed content generation, and the longer you are out there, the more friends you will find.
  • Do it yourself. There are lots of resources out there that can get you started. And who knows, maybe the rudimentary site you build on SquareSpace.com will be the baseline structure and content for YourSite 2.0. At least what you create will make the next revision that much easier. You can hire a designer or web developer and give them a running start with the site you’ve built yourself. And you will feel empowered by knowing a bit more about what they are going to need from you over the course of a project.

Don’t get me wrong… There’s no replacement for sound advice from colleagues or consultants, and there is nothing like having the right designer or developer there to build you the masterpiece you need to stand out. But trust your gut when it nudges you in the direction of your next step. If you are just starting out, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need an identity system, web site, and business cards first and foremost, “Because that’s what you are supposed to do.” The internet marketing landscape is more complex than that, and you have a business with unique needs. Either start with small, bite-sized tasks or build outward from a relevant and strong need. After all, your business is also evolving in its needs, vision, and voice and taking a more subtle approach to building your marketing will support you organically and help you save money and frustration over the long term.

Make your new year’s resolution for your business be to take your marketing further… One manageable step at a time.