Left-hand side of image is Anna; Right-hand side of image is article headline "Baby steps on the way to progress - not perfection."

You may have heard the famous Richard Branson quote: “Screw it – just do it!”

This phrase really resonates with me. For many years I had it on the wall next to my desk. But what does it actually mean?

To me, it means not to be afraid, not to procrastinate and to just get on with things straight away. It may not be perfect, but it will get done. Because, for me, progress equals happiness.

People often wait for the perfect time to do something, but the perfect time might never arrive. We always feel that things can be improved, and that might be true, but it only leads to fear and procrastination. We often feel that we should spend more time polishing things – reports, a new design, articles, emails, products, business plans – just to get it perfect. We delay it and sometimes we are too late; we miss opportunities. We don’t learn. We have regrets.

Perfectionists often prefer to wait for the perfect time to do something rather than when it needs to be done. This way of thinking can be very detrimental, both in business and in life.

Perfectionists often feel frustrated and unsatisfied with what they’ve done… “It could have been better”.

They go over past situations in their heads and think about how they could have made them better. They agonise over it. They are often too afraid to make a mistake or to be criticised by others, and that sometimes stops them from doing things altogether.

But what is perfection, really?

What perfection is to one person might not be to another. In business, it’s often very difficult to agree on when things are perfect. Each person has their own expectations and opinions. Every client sees things differently. Most of the time, when you launch a new product or service, your clients will not notice the small imperfections. They will think it’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Obviously, you shouldn’t launch it if it doesn’t work or if you don’t have the support infrastructure in place, but those tiny imperfections usually go unnoticed. The key to fixing those imperfections is through collecting as much quality feedback as you can, then making adjustments and improvements with a sense of urgency.

It’s important not to wait for things to happen but to go and make them happen!

Have you ever wanted to start a new diet or exercise regime? Perhaps a New Year’s resolution. Are you the kind of person who needs to have a training plan, a personal coach and all the gear before making a start?

What about a new diet? You are trying to healthily and suddenly you fall off the wagon, and then you stop altogether because your diet is not perfect. It’s okay, we are only human, just keep going! It’s okay to make occasional mistakes. You don’t need a training plan to start, just try to create a habit and you can create a plan and improve later.

It was the same with walking. Do you remember how many times you fell? Or did you wait as a child to walk perfectly before you started? I doubt it. And it was fun, sometimes painful and embarrassing, but progress was being made every day.

It’s the same with anything new you try in life. You might be very bad at it in the beginning, and people might laugh at you and criticise you. But it’s okay. Just keep learning and taking constructive feedback.

Where you’ll make the most improvement, though, is from listening to people who know what they are talking about. Don’t take business criticism from someone who’s never run a business, health advice from someone who doesn’t live a healthy lifestyle themselves or relationship advice from someone who is unhappy in their own relationship.

Sometimes people just want to make themselves feel better by putting down the hopes and ambitions of others. We all know the sort of people who will always demean you and give you negative feedback on anything new you are doing. If you can, avoid them altogether. If not, just don’t take their words to heart. They are entitled to their own opinion, but you don’t have to agree with it. Just keep going.

If you want to have a successful life, all you need is progress. Every day.

Try to make small improvements each day. Whether it’s your business, fitness, home, relationship, garden, diet – it will make you feel good every day. The human brain is wired to experience joy and happiness when you are working towards something. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Just keep going forward and don’t worry about being perfect, because nobody is.

- Written by Anna Bastek: multi-award winning entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, owner of Wolfestone, VoiceBox and Robertson Languages International, Welsh Government Dynamo Role Model, Ironman triathlete, traveller.