My “office” (pictured above) is also where we eat meals, play board games, do homework, create artwork, and so many other activities. As a matter of fact, a realtor would probably call this room the dining room or eat-in kitchen. Our house doesn’t actually have a dedicated office space.

Here’s a list (and photo evidence below!) of some of what I had to remove from my office in order to take the first picture: swimsuits and towels dried, but not yet put away from swim lessons; an incomplete to-do list; a quantity of crumbs unparalleled by Cookie Monster; Trolls movie soundtrack CD borrowed from the library (I like my kids to experience older technologies to better appreciate new ones!); and a water bottle with food still caked on the side. I could continue the list, but you get the idea. Plus, it only occurred to me to take a picture after I was about halfway through cleaning it up!

I know what you’re thinking: I should stop trying to do work in such a crazy place! But here’s the thing, although it’s imperfect, it works for now. Would it have been more ideal to start my business when I have a dedicated office space (preferably with several layers of sound proofing and a mini fridge… which, when installed my family will likely never see me again, BTW!)? Sure, but then I probably never would have started, because there would always be something else imperfect holding me back.

The same is often true for people in their careers. We wait for the perfect job description, the perfect timing, or the perfect company. And because none of those things actually exist in the funny little place we call reality, we never take action. 

In order to break out of the perfectionist mindset, here’s a few ideas:

  • If you think a job posting sounds interesting… apply! 
  • Just because the timing is inconvenient in taking on a new opportunity is no reason not to go for it anyway! 
  • Stuck at a company you hate because you figure they’re all the same? You may be surprised to discover that there are lots of great places to work that probably are a better fit for you than your current employer.

So, do I give up the dream of an office of my own someday? Definitely not! But I also don’t let it hold me back from doing what I need to do to be successful today. And you shouldn’t either.

P.S. If you’re feeling especially stuck, you may enjoy reading this.

Do you have a big dream or maybe a tiny nugget of an idea inside your head that you hope will happen someday? Great! Hope is an amazing tool in many instances. But it doesn’t make dreams and ideas happen. Action does.

In the book, Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary, she spends some time exploring the idea of imperfect action. Rather than waiting for the exact perfect conditions to do the thing you’ve been waiting to do or hoping to have unfold, instead identify the action you can take now, albeit imperfect, to move you toward what you want.

Is there something at work you’re hoping will change? Identify one action you can take to make that change happen. Is your dream to write a book? How many sentences (or words!) have you written to get you closer to that goal? Do you want a new job? Start thinking strategically about what steps you need to take to get to where you want to go. Wishing and hoping isn’t a strategy.

I encourage all of my clients to start taking actionable steps toward whatever it is they are targeting. It’s easy for all of us, myself included, to come up with excuses and reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t get started. That means we usually put off doing those steps that could help us get to where we want. Then we end up struggling with why the change we seek is taking so long or give up entirely because it feels like we’re not making progress.

As a recovering perfectionist, I completely understand. It’s hard to push forward when it’s not perfect timing, or perfectly worded, or perfectly planned out. But there’s at least one thing you can do to move forward (arguably, there are many, but start with one!). 

There’s a saying, sometimes attributed to Chinese proverb, that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

You don’t need to wait for the timing to be perfect; you just need to pick one thing and move forward imperfectly.  Start starting already!