I want to set the tone for 2017, so I went in search of a word. What I found was the phrase "Done Not Perfect", and it perfectly encapsulates how I want to tackle the new year. Defeating procrastination, building confidence, and getting stuff done is how I want spend my next twelve months. How about you?

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39 Comments

  1. That’s exactly the phrase I’ve chosen for this year too!! It’s on the front page of my first ever bujo!

  2. I am going to make a sign for my kitchen that says this!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this, everytime I set a goal i feel like I have to have everyyything perfect or I have to have certain things in order to even start trying to achieve and its a very toxic never ending cycle and so I thank you again because I could never articulate this and you nailed it ?

    1. I’m so glad this article was helpful! I used to do that same thing where I felt like I couldn’t achieve a goal unless the conditions were just right. It’s a great way to get in your own way! I hope you’re able to let go of perfection moving forward and break out of the cycle!

  4. whoa. i totally FEEL this. thank you for sharing this “secret” cuz its a DOOZY. I feel it seeping down into the cracks of my being…

    1. It’s such a simple idea, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone else to really absorb it!

  5. Shelby, thank you A LOT for this!! I felt like you literally described me in this. I struggle with perfectionism and procrastination all the time, in pretty everything… “Done not perfect” seems to be an awesome idea to try, so, again, thank you!

    1. Perfectionism is a super common problem, but you can totally overcome it! I continue to use this motto years and years later, and I’m still finding that it helps me grow and do more as an artist. You got this!

  6. This is totally relatable! Thank u Shelby, I’ve struggled with perfectionism and procrastination for a long time, I literally have a cupboard full of empty notebooks! Thank u !

    1. It’s more common than you’d think! I know you can shake off all those restraints and finally pull those notebooks off the shelf. You got this!

  7. Perfectionism has been one of THE biggest issues for literally my entire life. I expect everything to go exactly the way I want it to go. God help anyone who stands in the way of my plans playing out to the T! I have impossibly high expectations and standards and it is exhausting.
    I’m so over letting something have control over me and my life. My chosen phrase is “Good enough”. Nothing will ever be perfect. No plans will ever be carried out exactly the way I wish. I’ll never live in a Kdrama. But that’s okay!

    1. I feel ya! Perfectionism used to totally get in the way of any progress. But once you accept “good enough”, you really allow yourself to grow and make mistakes — after all, we’re only human!

  8. Ohh my god. This literally is the story of my life. Every single sentence resonates with me. I am totally going to letter this and hammer it in my wall and hopefully my head too lol. Thanks a lot, Shelby. My precious empty journals are so going to love you for this!

    1. Yes!! I’m so glad you resonate with this so strongly, Raji! I am not joking when I say that this simple change in attitude completely changed my life. I’m sure you will grow by leaps and miles if you ditch perfection and embrace the process. Enjoy!

  9. Linda Harris says:

    Thank you Shelby – I really needed this with the blank journals in my desk waiting for me to “get over it” and just start. Years ago when I was reviewed by my supervisor the only negative comment she had was that I was such a perfectionist that I couldn’t accept it in myself and therefore I had a hard time accepting it in my coworkers. She really hit that nail on the head! I recently bought 3 new dot journal books – the first one for “practice” before I do anything in either of the other two. Trying to come up with my own phrase to post in front of myself. I would probably be “Remember Grace”.

    1. It’s so important to realize that perfection isn’t a reasonable goal. You don’t need to be perfect in order to be loved, accepted, or valued — it’s so wonderful that your boss pointed that out to you! I hope you enjoy your journals and don’t allow perfectionism to steal that lovely experience from you.

  10. I love seeing these pop up in my email! Thank you for being such a wonderful influence! In a short time, I’ve grown so much and had so much more motivation. This post was awesome and a great reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as it makes me happy and is achieving it’s purpose, I’m satisfied.

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Thank you so very much Ashleigh! I love that you’ve had so much growth and increased motivation recently. Keep at it and you will be surprised at how much more you will continue to grow.

  11. This article is such a great reminder! I have been telling myself a very similar quote (that I found on Pinterest). Progress not Perfection! It has helped me at home, but mostly at work. My job is a constant stream of projects that morph into other projects, so sometimes it feels like I haven’t completed anything. So I just remind myself progress not perfection. I recently found your blog, and I am loving every single post! Keep up the good work!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Thanks so much for being here Nikki! I’m happy to hear that this resonated with you, it’s definitely a helpful perspective to have.

    2. Susan Nott says:

      Okay. I found my quote. Progress, not Perfection. Thank you so much!!! 🙂

  12. This could not have come at a better time! I was just telling my BFF earlier today that during grad school to become a mental health counselor I first became aware of my negative perfectionism: the type of concern about being perfect that sabotages and halts productivity rather than promoting a job well done. Since then I have to regularly catch myself falling into that pattern again…including my very first dotted journal! I have all the supplies, just like you mentioned, and caught myself about to print out a printable just so I could do a first draft and not mess up! Argh! lol But I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one having this exact challenge…and not the only one pushing through it. It isn’t cute. It’s annoying, but it’s also not bigger than any of us. Thank you for talking about this very topic! I enjoy all of your topics so keep ’em coming!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Way to keep moving forward! That first journal will be great and will open the door for so much more to come.

  13. jjinyancey says:

    Interesting thoughts, Shelby! How do you think any of this might manifest itself by someone (aka, ME!) always being late to EVERYTHING! Been like this since I was in second grade!?!

  14. Haha…this rings bells! My mother still says “With the time you’ve spent thinking about it, you could have done it.” I overplan, in case anything goes wrong. Yep, foil myself before I begin!

    1. Your mother sounds like a wise woman, Robyn! It’s hard to get into something without planning out every detail first, but it’s almost always 10x better and easier to just get started (the exception being perhaps travel plans). The more we plot and plan out everything, the easier it is to think of all the horrible things that might happen and become a nervous wreck!

  15. I’m 53, a college professor and have my Psy.D. in Organizational Psychology and it never gets easier. You are so wise to have learned this “Done not Perfect” mantra – which you’ll definitely need when you begin your doctoral work and dissertation. Kudos to you! I have a big poster on my desk which reads: Seriously, it does Not Matter what they think.

    Both of these phrases are sure to help the procrastinating perfectionist. I look forward to reading more!

    1. That means a lot coming from someone in the Org Psych field! Thanks so much, Lisa! It’s definitely been helping me in 2017. I’ve been trying more things and finishing more art, which is so exciting for me. Hopefully it is just as helpful for you, too!

  16. The follower to “Done not perfect”, is “Product not project.” I can get so involved in the project that I lose sight of the product. Loved your thoughts.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Madelyn! It’s so easy to get in our own heads when we’re immersed in projects. A dash of perspective is great for getting out of that funk!

  17. I love your mantra for this year!

    I can *SO* relate to being so scared of failure that I don’t try, or I do it in secret and don’t tell anyone (my husband *still* hasn’t read any of my stories!). I went through a period a couple of years back when I’d get upset with myself any time I read and enjoyed a book published by someone younger than me (I’ll be 27 this year, so it’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve started to see many books by people my age or younger), because why hadn’t *I* managed to be a published author yet? And the answer is, quite simply, because until a couple of years ago I was so convinced I was a bad writer that I didn’t try, or I’d try for a few weeks and then give up for a few months because I hated what I’d written.

    It’s only in the past couple of months that I’ve come to accept that I might not be published by the time I’m 30 (and that goal of 25 I once had has come and gone), and *that’s okay*. I recently drafted a novel that I am SO HAPPY with, and even though I know it needs some improvements and there are some plot holes and such, for the first time in my life I really do think I’ve written something good, and it’s because I gave myself permission to fail and just *wrote*. I wrote some rubbish drafts, and I wrote some drafts with kernels of good in them, and then I wrote a draft that makes me excited just to think about it because I love the characters and the world so much.

    I hope with all my heart that your dedication to “Done, not Perfect” this year will help you to thrive creatively <3

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I would feel general disdain when I’d discover musicians/artists/writers younger than me. It’s becoming more frequent as I get older and it never stops feeling a bit unsettling. But the answer is simply that those people pushed and I hadn’t because of fear or a simple misappropriation of priorities. It’s alarming to think of how many incredibly talented people wait in the shadows and we don’t even know it!

      I’m so glad you were able to push through and finish a draft for your novel. That is HUGE. Even if there are edits that need to be made to really give it its final polish, you have gone further than 95% of all writers by simply finishing a draft. I hope you continue to work on your labor of love and get it to its final form! I’d love to read it when its finished 😀

      1. Exactly! And some people also take longer to develop their talent than others, and that’s okay, too. I look at the stuff I wrote when I was 22 and cringe, and then I read something like The Bone Season, which was published before the author, Samantha Shannon, even hit 20, and think I could never be as good. Then I remember that JK Rowling was in her thirties when the first Harry Potter book was published, so I figure I’ve still got time to write an internationally bestselling series 😛 (and that’s not even starting to think about the writers who don’t really get going until after they retire from their day jobs!)

        1. I definitely feel better about where I am in life when I think about people who became wildly successful in their 40s and 50s. Morgan Freeman didn’t get his first big break until 52! There’s still time for us youngins’ 😉

  18. This is so me. I have always had to do things perfect. I miss out on things for fear of it not being good enough. This is my 2017 goal “Done but not perfect. Thank you

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