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Evolutionary Perfectionism, and Experimenting

I’d forgotten what it’s like writing to a theme on your blog.

The minute you identify the theme or topic you find that stories, quotes, tweets, links, posts, ideas and resources come flying at you, and it’s all you can do to keep up. (Hint: if you ever find yourself running out of things to say on your blog, identify a theme for a month, and you’ll be off.)

That’s certainly what happened once I decided to explore perfectionism for a while.  Ideas galore.

So many in fact I couldn’t decide how best to organise the material: one short post at a time, to give a bit more room to each angle, to make the material more digestible? That could make for a lot of short, bitsy posts. Hmm.

Or one composite post with all the links woven into something meaningful, lasting, and good to take away? Hmm, that could be a lot of work, and hard to digest.

Which would be best?

Who knows?

There probably isn’t a best, and one of the ideas I’m trying to put into practice to combat perfectionism is that when faced with an either / or decision, hold the belief in your mind that both ways ahead are perfect.

That way the choice doesn’t matter so much, you can relax and pick one based on other criteria, like your gut feeling, or simply tossing a coin*.

I decided to go with short posts, as an experiment, and see what happens.

First up is an idea that pinged its way over to me about 30 seconds after posting the introduction to the perfectionism series.

It’s a video by Michael Martine, Remarkablogger, in a post called Warning: perfectionism will kill you! (Michael is clearly better at writing attention grabbing headlines than I am ;-) )

In the video he talks about an approach he calls evolutionary perfectionism: allowing yourself to get your material out there before it’s ‘perfect’ (which it might well never be if you’re particularly good at perfectionism) as a way to improve what you do (and thus appease your inner perfectionist).

As he says, this works particularly well with information products on the web, where you can engage people in an iterative improvement process as part of the development of the product.

Perfection isn’t some show-stopping preconceived ideal. It’s actually an evolutionary process:

Create > Launch > Get Feedback > Revise/Add Value > Relaunch/Raise Price > Get Feedback > Revise/Add Value > Etc.

If you’re prone to feeling stuck at the launching stage this is worth a watch. It certainly gave me a few ahas with which to move forward on something I’d been sitting tinkering with rather than getting out there, and letting it breathe.

You’ll find the video (and some linked posts on perfection) here at Remarkablogger.

* That was me sneakily working in an extra link to save another post later: Seth Godin on decision making: insist on the coin flip.

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  1. Michael Martine
    Twitter: remarkablogger

    Hey Joanna, thanks for the mention. I’m glad you found it helpful and I hope your readers do, too. Be sure to check out Emilie Wapnick’s recent post on perfectionism too over at If it wasn’t for her post (and my comments on it) I never would’ve made this one.

  2. Jackie Walker
    Twitter: jackiewalker

    I didn’t think perfectionism was part of my problem, but with the benefit of hindsight, I see that it was me, not my work, that I expected to be perfect - lol, that’s an even longer wait! I’m now going to experiment and create thanks to you and Michael :)

  3. The Map is Not the Territory says:

    [...] Paterson covers perfectionism in her latest post - Evolutionary Perfectionism and Experimenting and from her post there’s a great video by @remarkablogger.  Strangely, or not, [...]

  4. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, this subject seems to have come up a lot lately. From my own experience, I have found that when I recklessly abandon the need to meet other’s expectations or the futile quest for perfect, my writing is at its best - free to breathe and take flight, raw and authentic. It’s not always easy to silence those voices but when we learn to tame them, the results truly are “perfect.”

  5. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Michael, thanks again for the video Michael, and the ref to Emilie’s site - have indeed checked it out :-)

    Jackie, ha! me too ;-) still learning how to unpick some of those knots…

    Karen: “free to breathe and take flight, raw and authentic.”

    oh yes yes yes… yes please :-)

  6. Michael Martine
    Twitter: remarkablogger


    You’re welcome. :)