You Might Need to Become an Imperfectionist if… - Christine Kane

How much stuff do you think about doing?

How many things would you love to try but stop yourself because you don’t know how to begin?

Do you avoid projects because of the pressure to do them well?

If so, feel free to join me and some of my most successful friends in our exclusive club of very special and talented people:

We’re Imperfectionists!

What’s an Imperfectionist?

• An Imperfectionist is often a recovering perfectionist.

• An Imperfectionist knows that getting something done is better than sitting back and waiting to do it perfectly.

• An Imperfectionist knows that being a Perfectionist is simply an excuse NOT to take action.

• An Imperfectionist congratulates herself for taking small steps.

• An Imperfectionist buys herself flowers when she accomplishes something – even if it’s not quite up to her ego’s high standards.

• An Imperfectionist knows that getting a scary thing done IS the reward. Not the kudos or adoration.


You Might Need to Become an Imperfectionist if…


• You tell yourself you need to get “just a little more information” before you’ll try something.

•  You have a case of the “Used-to-Be’s.” (“I used to be so good at this!” Or “I used to be so thin!”  Or, “I used to write everyday and now look…”)

•  Your mantra to the world is: “I’m just so overwhelmed! There’s too much to do! It’s so hard to be me!”

•  You call friends and co-workers to get sympathy for how hard it is to accomplish your goals and dreams.  They often agree, citing how special you are because you have been given so much talent – and how it must be quite a burden.

• You spend more than one hour per day on Facebook, watching television, or not fully engaging in other addictive activities.

• At the end of every year, you wonder why you never seem to move any further towards your dreams.

•  You are waiting for your POTENTIAL to finally kick in.


Why Becoming an Imperfectionist Makes You Successful and Happy

Being an Imperfectionist is an Intention.

When you become an Imperfectionist, you finally recognize your ego voice exactly for what it is:  Your own personal Success Prevention Expert.

When you become an Imperfectionist, you finally realize how many Success Prevention Experts exist in the world.

When you become an Imperfectionist, you lower the bar – or better yet, remove it altogether.  You can then create in the moment without any grade or standard.  Ironically, this allows for such freedom and joy that you might end up doing a great job. (Or at least having a great time!)

When you become an Imperfectionist, you place your creative attention on the project or activity itself. You don’t waste it on obsessing about the outcome. (This paradoxically leads to a higher chance of greatness, and a definite outcome of happiness!)

When you become an Imperfectionist, you get things done imperfectly.  You then learn that you can tweak and fix and try again.  This process makes you Unstoppable.

When you become an Imperfectionist, you finally understand that there are no mistakes. Just judgments.

Becoming an Imperfectionist doesn’t mean you don’t become a master of your craft or your passion – but that’s not the starting goal.

How to Become an Imperfectionist

1 – Imperfectly pick one thing you keep telling yourself you want to do.

2 – If you read #1 and think, “I can’t possibly pick just one! There’s too many!” then do not proceed until you have picked just one.

3 – Get a timer, and set it to 55 minutes.

4 – Walk away from your computer right now and spend 55 minutes doing that very activity.

5 – Repeat #4 again tomorrow.

6 – Repeat #4 again every day after that until the item is complete.

7 – Celebrate the item’s completion with chocolate, flowers, or a manicure.

8 – Go back to #1 and start over.

An Imperfect List of Things You Can Do Imperfectly


• Imperfect Writing

• Imperfect Meditation

• Imperfect Yoga

• Imperfect Romance

• Imperfect Hiking

• Imperfect Vacations

• Imperfect Scrapbooking

• Imperfect Sex

• Imperfect Cooking

• Imperfect Dinner Parties

• Imperfect Bowling

Add your own items to this list as needed.  Find a way to let yourself experience them without judgment.  And listen to this recovering perfectionist when she tells you that your success is guaranteed when you live by this principle!

Disclaimer:  The preceding article should be ignored by the following people:


Brain surgeons.

Commercial airline pilots.


  • Boris

    So true. Love your post.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks so much Barb!!

  • Barb Friedberg

    Just found you from a link on Dosh Dosh and have been traveling from article to article. As a perfectionist in recovery, had to stop to comment. Each of your articles is more interesting than the next. Love your site, style, and content. Already picked up the feed. You are inspiring! Thanks, Barb

  • Richard |

    I really struggle with this area and am sigh a recovering perfectionist. The irony is of course that you will get close to perfection if you only admit at the start that you suck!

  • Donna

    I really like your concept of being an imperfectionist. That is a great idea to keep in mind so we move forward. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Galina Z

    Wow… What “perfect” timing! I am a recovering perfectionist, well on my way to imperfection. Love the tips; will have to try them out with my new blog… If people talk about all the imperfections, at least I get attention. Right? 🙂

  • Deanne

    I’ve been resisting blogging, from the pt of view of waiting till I figure out what to blog about that will be smart, witty, reflect my artistic genius:) et al…. A recent talk I went to, as well as this post are motivating me to get going, and imperfectly blog. (after my 3 day retreat to a spa …;) Always enjoy your perspective, thanks.

  • Gagnez

    I think you are on to something here – as much as I get done I needed this nudge… Thank you!


    Internationally Known Spoken Word
    & Hip Hop Artist-Producer

  • cindi

    I love this blog Christine… Timing is perfect and the subject is on the mark as well!
    I so need to embrace my imperfections and MOVE ON… it’s not as easy as it seems but I am going to try! It reminds me of the Zen quote in your Right Outta Nowhere: “Leap and the net will appear” Since the begining of the year I’ve been trying to not live so reactively but steadily choosing my direction… open to any and all ideas. Sort of a self-discovery time out. My word for the year is focus and I am slowly begining to see things come into shape.

  • Amy

    This is perfect timing for me as well! Like Joy above (whose website I just commented on, too), I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a blog for a while now, but my obsession with getting it “just right” has been keeping me from doing it.
    You’ve both inspired me to jump in and do it!

  • Kathy Troidle Jackson

    Oh so right on. I too am a recovering perfectionist, thanks to Uplevel Your Life program and you my dear! I think I was born a procrastinator. Growing up I refused to do something I didn’t know for sure I could do well yet. When I was 5 years old and taking swimming lessons it came to the day we were to walk across the end of the shallow end by the rope that separated it from the deep end. With my mouth barely above the water, this was scary. I refused to go saying “i will walk across this pool when I am 6.” I made my mom take me there the day I turned 6 so I could do it and did it! My parents bought be a two wheel bike with training wheels. At some point my dad decided I was riding well enough to take the training wheels off. I refused to get on the bike and said “I will ride it with no training wheels when I am 8!” and I would not get back on that bike until he put them back on. No projet was too big to put off until the last minute. My mother once commented that my middle name should have been mañana when she had to drive me over to Ms. Hoepfl’s house on a saturday to turn in a big science project that was supposed to be in the day before.

    I am proud to say I no longer put stuff off….well not as chronically anyway 🙂 I decided to be a writer, started writing down stories, and letting people read them as imperfect as they were! I got addicted to #haikuchallenge on Twitter and wrote imperfect haiku about my wonderful Westie rescue dog. I self published my imperfect “White Dog Haikus” on Yay me!

  • Becky Hunter

    Just wanted to add one more thought:

    When I used to have an office job (working for a charity helping people emotionally, so some responsibility there to get things right, though not quite as much as a brain surgeon!) and I had an enormous to-do list and 4 hours in which to do it and I was about to cry, my boss would say, “take a few breaths, take tea breaks to get away from the computer and read a mindless magazine, take each task separately, you’re doing a great job”.

    Ok, so I had an amazing boss, but I just remembered this morning how much a) the support, and b) those tips, helped me to get through a horrible workload. It reminded me that in an office situation, as soon as I felt relieved of the pressure to be a perfect caring counselor the whole time (and actually sit and read about Victoria Beckham’s boob job or whatever) I could be the excellent caring counselor in the minutes and hours when it mattered.

    Surely I (we) can do the same with our creative and academic work?

  • Connie Dretske

    I was just heading to bed and decided to check out this post. Wow what a perfect piece of advice and the timing was wonderful. I’ve been bumping around my house all day because my blog hasn’t been generating as much interest as I’d like and I was thinking of quitting. I’ll stick with it – I have a message and it’s important – or at least I’m doing something, right?

  • Jeanine Byers Hoag

    This post is really quite awesome!! I love the idea and am going to begin immediately.


  • Becky Hunter

    Thanks Leonie, Joy and Christine,

    What a great place this is to come to for support! I always that that as an academic (well, academic-in-training, I’m in grad school) I should be able to do everything well without help and without worry. You’re right that art history essays with a bent towards psychoanalysis don’t kill anyone. I will do my best to keep going with the imperfectionist attitude!


    ps – I found the mindful adademic blog of Joy’s partner really good reading… however, it’s time for me to do some writing!

  • Leonie

    Becky, as a recovering academic procrastinator myself (you’re looking at someone who wrote her MA thesis in three weeks, after worrying about it for four months), I’d say – just do it. Whenever you find yourself fretting about that essay, as soon as you notice those thoughts creating that buzzing anxiety in the back of your mind, force yourself to physically get up and start. It used to be the only thing that got me going, and I’m applying it to everything I am hesitant or nervous about these days (paying bills, taxes, assignments for the internship in a new career that I absolutely love…). It’s a great way to stop the anxiety too – by physically getting up, you move out of your head and into your body. After all, you’ll end up getting it done anyway. Why waste time worrying about it first? You might as well get up and do it now and save yourself the time.

    And remember – airline pilots making mistakes kill people. I don’t know what your specific academic field is, but essays don’t kill anyone 🙂 Best of luck, and I hope you keep enjoying it!

    I only started being an imperfectionist a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across the article in the archives. It’s so freeing, and it gets easier once you’ve started! 🙂

    PS. Sorry for the novel-length comment!

  • Katie

    I will imperfectly practice imperfect writing everyday. Or else I’ll ground myself from my computer and all its mindless recreations. 😉

    But it’s so true. I’m terrified that I won’t get it right and that my story will be totally lame. The thing is, I don’t care if it’s lame, because I know I can fix it. Yet I’m still worried, which is so silly of me. Being an imperfect being is a pain, especially if you try to be perfect! I’m gonna go with the much more efficient and healthy way of imperfection.

    Thank you for this. It’s just what I needed. (which was a swift kick in the rear, haha)

  • Jan Small

    Funny, isn’t it, how freeing just saying “I’m an imperfectionist!” is? I feel 50 pounds lighter. Thanks, Christine!

  • Lisa

    I struggle with being a perfectionist all the time and totally relate to every point under “You Might Need to Become an Imperfectionist if…” I love your wisdom and advice Christine, you ROCK!

  • Laura

    I just read some statistics about success, as far as making money is concerned, is directly correlated to taking risks, aka acting imperfectly. Yours truly, imperfect mom, entrepreneur, researcher and professor! (Just moved to a new and imperfect blog.)

  • Christine Kane

    Matt – Men are welcome too! 🙂 Thanks for your note!

  • Matt Belcher

    I am a man….but this is still a wonderful post. Seriously, if we all just applied this how much would we achieve?

    Thanks Christine.


  • Christine Kane

    Thanks for all the great extras here, people! Love that you coach each other! Becky – when i have those days – I just get grateful that I’m doing it. It sounds like your perfectionist is trying to make an appearance no matter WHAT you try! 🙂

  • Joy Tanksley

    Becky, I don’t mean to be a link dropper here, but my husband has started a blog called “Mindful Academic.” He talks about writing, productivity, and so forth from a really interesting perspective that you might enjoy!

    And to put in my two cents – I had a HUGE project to complete recently and was feeling very resistant. My life coach reminded me of Martha Beck’s 3 B’s – Bag it, Barter it, or Better it – from The Joy Diet. GREAT STUFF. Get your hands on that book.

  • Monika

    I love that you posted this today, because just this morning I wrote about my dilemma regarding a half marathon I’d like to run. I feel I can run a half marathon, but not a perfect half marathon – a “perfect” half-marathon being one completed within a particular self-assessed time limit.

    I know I can run the distance at a slower, more enjoyable speed…but I fear that I will be dissatisfied with myself. So instead I’ve been pondering not even running. And this post was wonderfully timely, because I think I now have my answer 🙂

    So thank you!

  • Becky Hunter

    An update on being an imperfectionist: Day 1: I spent the whole day avoiding my essay, doing every other spare task under the sun, and getting more and more nervous about the essay… I started it an hour ago… I’m REALLY enjoying it 🙂 Can anyone tell me why it took me a whole day to work up to it? And offer any advice on how to get started earlier? Is it just a case of setting a timer as Christine suggests?

    Also, working in academia, maybe I need to be as perfect and precise as an airline pilot?

  • Paula

    Talk about timely! My lovely friend Karen just gave me a link to this and it is me to a T!! Recently I can never get started on anything because I have to do it perfectly! So I am going to do 55 mins of uninterrupted kitchen-based housework, starting NOW!! Thanks Christine!!

  • Mindful Mimi

    I love being an imperfectionist. The fun thing about that is that I get things done and people actually (often) think they are great, perfect even 🙂
    Thanks for a reminder of that. I will go ahead and write an imperfect blog post now.

  • Piper

    This post is perfect timing for me!! And I love the name imperfectionist. I’ve been trying to get past being a perfectionist for years…it’s amazing how immobilizing it can be. I love your list…definitely need to try this out!!

  • Marie

    Great post! I have to do this. I can imperfectly write, cook, do yoga, exercise etc. but I am TERRIFIED of my art supplies. I’ve always been more of a word person than visual arts person, but I still want to play with them – but I never “play” with anything anymore. Sounds like I need to indulge my desire to play with all of those neat colors and brushes and pencils and not care one bit what comes out of it.

  • Denise

    This article totally reasonates with me. I have considered myself a recovering perfectionist for years…I’m excited to adopt this new title of imperfectionist. Love it!!!

  • Becky Hunter

    ps – Joy, I just peeked at your website and it is very cool and inspiring, well done for being an imperfectionist!

  • Becky Hunter

    This is perfect timing and well written, thanks Christine! As I commented the other day I JUST started drawing again (I went to a top London art school and now I’m too afraid to draw, go figure), just a portrait of a friend but it’s a start. Now I need to imperfectly do some reading and writing for an essay I’ve been putting off. Thanks for the nudge 🙂

    I would add… you might need to become an imperfectionist if you spend more than one hour a day tinkering unnecessarily with your website/reading blog stats/tweeting about said tinkering (that’s my secret procrastination shame!)

    Becky x

  • Joy Tanksley

    Hello. My name is Joy and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

    Christine, I’ll have you know that your e-zine article on imperfectionism a whie back hit me so hard that I started a blog (that I had been putting off for years) almost immediatly. It is SO MUCH FUN to be a imperfectionist! WOO HOO!

  • Viv McWaters

    Yay! I love this term ‘imperfectionist’. It reminds me of my favourite quote at the moment by friend and theatre director, David Robinson, “Put down your clever and pick up your ordinary”. We talk about this in a podcast on the tyranny of excellence

  • Sidney

    I’m getting better at this over time. My mantra lately has become: finished is better than perfect. Thanks for the encouragement!