Hello, perfectionists. I’m fixing to straight up ruin your day because this post is all about the virtues of taking imperfect action. I’m talking about making the leap and knowing the net will appear.

a dusky lit desk with an open notebook, a pencil cup, and iced coffee in a mason jar with the text "Taking Imperfect Action"

Admittedly, this sounds terrifying to a lot of people, and for good reason.

We’re taught to research all possible options and to weigh each potentiality in some kind of cost-benefit analysis. Sure, that can work for some things.

But most of life is subjective. And even if something seems good on paper, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

So people run around, anxious and afraid of making decisions because it might not be right. They choose to stay in jobs they hate because they don’t know if they’ll be successful in the career they actually want. They read every blog and reddit thread about a thing without ever actually trying the thing.

And that, my friends, is no way to live.

That’s why I’m talking about taking imperfect action today.

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What is Imperfect Action?

Imperfect action is just that–action you take that isn’t perfect.

Instead of waiting to research and plan everything, or to conceptualize every potentiality, you just jump in. And then, you learn on the fly.

I know this can sound incredibly scary to some people. And admittedly, it’s pretty scary to me sometimes.

Who wants to jump into something completely unprepared?

People who get shit done, that’s who.

Here’s the thing with imperfect action. You learn a lot while you’re actually doing a thing. And yeah, you can learn a lot by reading stuff other people wrote about that thing.

But your specific process for doing that thing and what will work just for you?

You gotta learn that by doing it.

So, let’s apply this to a thing that I do a lot of. Writing is something that I’ve studied extensively. I went to school for it, and have a couple of degrees in the subject.

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But guess what?

I’ve learned more about how I write by just doing it.

So, this blog? I wish I could say that I was ready to tackle it when I started. But that’s not true.

Instead, I learned on the fly, figured out what I wanted to do as I went, scrapped old content when I felt it was time to, and moved on.

No, it wasn’t all professional. (It’s still not. I curse way too much for that.) And I wish I could say that I was always proud of the stuff I put out.

But I wasn’t.

And that’s okay.

I think we tend to see life in terms of how indelible everything is. And yeah, there are things that leave a mark that can’t be undone. And yeah, you can see a ton of old content on this blog that I scrapped years ago by using the Internet Wayback Machine. You can see things that I no longer want associated with what I do.

But that’s okay. I wish they were gone forever. Not because they are terrible or will get me canceled, but because they no longer align with who I am.

So, yeah. Maybe had I done research and never jumped in with both feet, I wouldn’t have that old deleted blog content that isn’t who I am.

Maybe.

At the end of the day, though, I know that I probably wouldn’t have ever actually started this blog if I hadn’t just done it.

Too much preparation is a curse. And it will make you feel like you’ll never be ready. You just have to make shit happen sometimes or it never, ever will.

Too much preparation is a curse. And it will make you feel like you'll never be ready. You just have to make shit happen sometimes or it never, ever will. Click To Tweet

Why Should I Be Taking Imperfect Action?

I AM NOT WRITING A WHOLE-ASS BLOG POST ABOUT TAKING IMPERFECT ACTION FOR YOU TO ACT LIKE YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT.

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Ahem.

Here’s the deal, gang. Imperfect action is uncomfortable. It will make you squirm. It will make you feel like you’re a failure. And you’ll be learning tough lessons left and right.

To some, that sounds awful. To me, it sounds awful too. But I know it pays off, so I can tolerate the awful.

And at the end of the day, it’s important to have reminders that you can do crazy, big things. Who doesn’t love the dopamine rush of accomplishing something? Who doesn’t want to set goals and just make them happen? Who doesn’t like to lay their head down at the end of the day with the thought that you just did something big and important and worthwhile?

Taking imperfect action is more about proving something to yourself than it is about doing the thing.

Yes, you will get the thing done. Yes, you will be able to learn new things. Yes, you will actually get it started instead of researching the idea to death.

But once you do it, you actually show yourself that you can do hard things.

And to me, that’s the big deal. I know it sounds cheesy and maybe like a motivational poster in the guidance counselor’s office. But you can do hard things. And the only way you can show yourself that you can do them is by doing them.

So, you have to take a step out of that super uncomfortable comfort zone. You have to knock on the damn door. You have to make big changes.

And you do it because imperfect action gets the ball rolling.

Waiting to feel ready is the same thing as choosing to never start.

I know it sounds cheesy and maybe like a motivational poster in the guidance counselor's office. But you can do hard things Click To Tweet

What Comes After the Imperfect Action?

Okay. So you’ve jumped in. You’re stressed out. You feel like an idiot. And the worst part–everyone is watching you.

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It’s okay. This is the part where shit starts to get real.

Everyone is watching you. But not in the way you think.

They aren’t laughing or judging. And if they are, fuck them. Who cares? Imagine being an asshole on the sidelines and belittling someone doing the thing. Like, seriously. Who is that big of a choad?

Mostly, people will see that you are making shit happen. And from there, they will see that they can do the same.

But for you, you’ll be learning tons of stuff. And even though it can be really stressful to be the person who is taking imperfect action, you’ll feel it pay off.

You’ll start to strategize. You’ll see changes you can make. You’ll push your way toward a better workflow or process or product. And you can only do that because you figured out what the hell you’re doing by doing it.

Yes, you’ll still have to do research. You’ll still have to plan things out. Not everything is solved by jumping in.

But if you jump in, you’ll be able to know what you actually need to research. You’ll know what you need to plan.

And that is definitely worth the price of admission.

Do You Take Imperfect Action?

How do you take imperfect action? Was there a time that taking imperfect action really paid off?

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far, please know that I think you should close your browser window and dive into the thing you want to start. It’s going to be messy and stressful. You’re going to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. But give it twenty minutes and see what happens.

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