Perfection Kills Progress

Hello everyone.  This is my first blog post on my personal site Jeremy Whaley.com and I’m going to tell you how perfection kills progress.  In my case perfection has killed progress for 11 years.

I’m super excited to finally make this post.  It is currently 1:46AM on a Friday night, January 8, 2016.   I first bought this domain on June 18, 2005.  So in a very strange way this website has been 11 years in the making.  However we will forget the past as it is behind us, the site is here and it is here to stay.

I have wanted to build this site for many years but I never knew what to build.  I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to say it.  I didn’t know how to build it.  I tried a little site with an old program Apple shipped for a few years called iWeb.  You might find a copy in the Apple Museum one day.  But that site had no purpose, no vision, and it looked like a 13 year old girl built it in iWeb while talking to her girlfriend on a cordless landline phone.

The next iteration came when I discovered WordPress was a whole lot like iWeb only way cooler and more flexible.  I just had one problem – You could learn iWeb in about 20 minutes, but I couldn’t figure out WordPress in 20 minutes – so I quit.

Then one day about 3-4 years ago I decided to go public – I was going to launch my site and track a weight loss campaign – all out in the public for the world to see!  I think I got about 3 posts up before I stopped updating, and I ended up gaining about 25 lbs since that big launch FAIL.

Now for the last 2-3 years I have been saying to my wife, business partner, and pretty much anyone who will listen “I’ve got to build my site, I just don’t know what to build”.

And THAT is how perfection stops progress.

Finally for about the past 6 months I have been zeroing in on what I want my site to be.  I know it’s an extension of who I am and an outlet for me to talk about and express things that are just simply not part of my main business.  I even have some pretty cool ideas for things we can do.  So with such a great vision getting it up and running must be pretty quick right?

Once again perfection sweeps in to steal the prize.

Literally tonight I have just gone through 4 different notebooks from the past 6 months.  I’m amazed at some of the things I’ve already lined up for this site – so why is it not built?

One simple reason: I want to make it great, I want it perfect.

Like many of you who may one day read this, I’m an achiever.  I like to go big, I like to do things great, and I love for things to be perfect when possible.  So of course I want the perfect website as well.  And that’s why this site has taken so long. Because I have put so much pressure on myself to make it perfect, and in the mean time zero progress has been made.

an Iron BoxThe Iron Box

So a normal person would just hire a firm to design a great website and voila, it’s done right?  But part of what this website is supposed to be about (which you don’t know yet because I haven’t built it) is the reality that anybody can build a website with word press and use that site to build a business and make money online.  So I can’t really go hire a firm to build the website for me because it defeats the whole purpose of proving that anyone can build their own site!

This is how we create an iron box.  I just shared with you the first wall – I have to build it myself.

Next, I wanted to make sure it looks awesome so simply using a twenty twelve, or twenty thirteen, or now twenty sixteen theme from wordpress, well that just wouldn’t do.  I need a hot cool theme that looks like I spent $15,000 on my website but I really only spent $59.

So I spent weeks trying to pick a theme.  Then I picked one (that a friend suggested) and installed it and…. (enter cartoon music), nothing.  I have absolutely no freaking clue how to build a website with this theme.  It is an awesome theme.  It can do anything.  This is the theme to end all themes.  I can build my own website and it will look like $25 million, and I can do it with no code at all.  It is so simple, a monkey could do it blind folded… but not me.  I spent days just staring at this theme in wordpress with no clue what to do with it.

So I reached back out to my friend who suggested it and he offered to coach me!  Yea!  This is what I need!  A coach!  Now I can build my own site and it will look awesome and my coach will make sure I succeed!

There’s just one problem – my coach is busy with his own site and a product launch for the next 4 weeks.  So I got back into the theme and started putzing around… nothing.  I don’t have a clue.

Then it hit me, I’m getting off my mission again.  My mission was to build my own website but now I’ve erected another iron wall that says “it has to look awesome, I’ll just get a theme and it will look awesome”.

So if you’re tracking with me I have erected two Iron Walls: 1) I have to build the site myself and 2) it has to look awesome! Like a million bucks kind of awesome.

And then there’s the 3rd wall.  I want the site done like yesterday.  I’m ready to go.  I’m ready to start putting in articles and creating my site so I want it all built and ready to go.

And now you can see my iron box.  1) I have to build the site, 2) it has to be awesome, 3) I need it done like right now.

The problem with an iron box is there’s no way out.  When we construct these little mental iron boxes around ourselves, we put ourselves in a position where we have to meet all of these self imposed criteria, and we create a scenario that is impossible.  This leads to absolutely no progress.

In the world of business most of us realize there are 3 factors that help influence the production of a product: Speed, Price, and quality.  You can have two but you can’t have all three.  By choosing to build the site myself price becomes a factor that I’m optimizing for – I’m not spending money.  By wanting it done immediately speed becomes a factor I’m optimizing for – I’m not waiting around.  That means I can’t have the incredible quality as well.  It just is.

Recognizing this situation is how I am now starting my site in the middle of the night.  The frustration of having no progress finally got me, and I snapped.  But that’s good too – because no progress can be made until we finally have enough emotional disgust with the status quo that we burst through whatever iron boxes we have erected around ourselves.

You Can’t Stop a Freight Trainshutterstock_84692338

So why did I choose to optimize for speed and price and let quality go?  Because I know myself.  Like most of us, I need momentum to keep moving.  It’s been said that a freight train moving 40 MPH can plow through a concrete barrier 10 feet thick.  But standing still, that same train can be stopped by simply placing a 1″ block in front of one of it’s wheels.

The reason:  Momentum.

Momentum is a force that in my opinion is better than all of the other forces.  There is not a more difficult spot to start from than the one that has absolutely zero momentum.  Starting from the beginning is almost always the most difficult place to start.

However once we have momentum going, with anything in our lives, it is much easier to build off of that momentum. That’s why I’m choosing PROGRESS over PERFECTION.  I have the next 20+ years to develop my site.  But even after those 20 years it will probably not be perfect.  That’s why it’s so important to not let perfection get in the way of progress.

I think a lot of people struggle with this principle.  In fact it’s probably appropriate that I would struggle with it right now while trying to launch this site.  What you may or may not have figure out by now – this site is about helping people. Helping people get unstuck.  Unstuck in their finances, career, success – life in general.  This site is about living a better life. It’s a place for me to share the things that I have learned and continue to learn as I continue to build and develop my own life. A life I hope one day people will look back on and say “that was extraordinary”.

If you’re reading this then you’re probably looking for an extraordinary life as well.  And if you’re like me, trying to create perfect probably keeps you stuck more often than not.  So please learn from my mistakes and my pain – let’s get going.  No more letting perfect stop you from progress.

I’ve been working at this now for less than 1 hour.  I have created 4 pages, and written my first post.

“…hello world”.

Progress.  Momentum.  Now let’s go make it extraordinary!

About the Author Jeremy Whaley

  • Joshua Rupp says:

    This is fantastic! LET’S ROLL!!!!!

  • Don says:

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Richard Karasik says:

    In order to turn a ship in a desired direction – it has to be moving first …. Good on ya!

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