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How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

How Perfectionism is Holding You Back (and How to Let Go)

Perfectionism always sounded like a positive word to me.

After all, what could be better than being perfect?

I cannot think of any situation where something could be beyond perfect. Yet in reality, perfectionism is a real problem because it stops people from sharing with the world the more imperfect (but still amazing!) things they create.

Are you stuck on perfectionism? It’s time to let go. In this article you’ll learn the benefits of embracing imperfection and how doing so will give you a beautiful sense of freedom.

Let Go and Reap the Benefits

Almost all the wonderful inventions that we celebrate today began in a less than perfect way.

The first iPhone, the first Space X rocket, and the first electric car were all put out in a less than perfect state. Yet, people still loved them. People still bought or invested in them. As each iteration of these products came out, they got better, so much so that if you compare the latest iPhone X to the first generation iPhone you would immediately declare the first iPhone to be nowhere near perfect.

The thing about the first iPhone, the first Space X rocket and the first electric car is they were a work in progress.

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Sure they were not perfect, but on the whole, they worked and people enjoyed them immensely. Once they were out there in the market, the feedback came in and that helped to improve the products. Imagine if Space X’s Falcon 1 had not launched; would we have seen the impressive Falcon Heavy launch?

The lessons learned from the first Space X launch led to improvements in the next launch. And now, in 2018 we have a Tesla Roadster orbiting our sun. If the engineers at SpaceX were worried about being perfect, none of this would have happened. They would still be working on the Falcon 1 rocket.

And, that’s the problem with perfectionism: it stops you from accomplishing many things that you have the ability to achieve. It prevents you from sharing with the world your ideas, your work and your craft, so you never benefit from the feedback necessary to get better; this means the world will not benefit from the amazing things you are capable of doing.

Outlined below are five tips you can use to help get away from your perfectionism so the world can benefit from the work you do.

All Great Things Began Imperfect

Most likely, our first attempts at anything will not be perfect.

It takes time to develop the necessary know-how and skills to achieve perfection–and even then, it could probably be improved upon. That should not stop you, rather this idea should encourage you. At every turn, at every attempt, you will get better. The goal is not to have a perfect version.

The goal is to create something that works, something that resonates with people, and something that will get better with time and patience and continuous effort to improve it.

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Don’t Fret Feedback

Too often people hold back their ideas and opinions because they think their idea or opinion is stupid.

No idea or opinion is stupid.

All great ideas started somewhere. The best ideas were put out into the open so that other people could provide feedback and criticize them. That is precisely how great ideas start–through feedback, the ideas evolved and got better. Holding back your idea or product until you have perfected it only guarantees it will never be perfect.

You need the feedback to make it better. Even if you find that your idea is perfect, another person’s insight may give you a new perspective on ways to improve. Or that criticism may be just what you need to motivate you! Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, said that when he told people of his idea for starting CNN, everyone laughed at him. When that happened, he knew he was on to a good idea.

Perfectionism is Really Just Fear

The truth behind perfectionism is that it is a form of fear.

This fear is most likely of criticism or dislike of your idea. The worst thing you can imagine is that your idea will be a total flop and that you will fail.

The good thing about fear is that it is a mental state, not a physical one. Any fear, especially irrational fears about perfection, can be changed and overcome by analyzing why you are fearful in the first place and recognizing the worst case scenario of putting a “less than perfect” idea out there.

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Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone will criticize your work, then you will understand that really that is nothing to be afraid of–in fact, criticism is a fantastic tool to help your idea get better! This is where you learn what others think can be improved on, so that your idea will appeal to a wider audience and gain more traction with others.

Failure is Actually Fabulous

Look at any great business person and you will see a career path littered with failure.

Steve Jobs failed at pretty much everything he tried until he returned to Apple in 1997. Elon Musk has had more failures than most people experience in a lifetime. Yet, these two pioneers never gave up. They kept creating, producing and pushing forward despite their setbacks.

Life is ninety-percent failure and ten-percent success.

What matters is the ten-percent. The ninety-percent is necessary in order for you to get the ten-percent successes. So, accept any and all failures as part of your journey.

Life Is Not Perfect

We are not born perfect and we will not die perfect.

In fact, perfection is pretty much a myth.

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What one person may find perfect, another will disagree. That is just the way it is. Life is all about successes and failures, and that is how we grow and become better people, just as our ideas grow to be better from repeated failures. We live and we make mistakes and as we do so, we learn and improve.

We will never be perfect and that is the way it should be; if everyone was perfect, then it would be a very boring world. Imperfections are what make you who you are and they make you interesting and unique. Celebrate your failures and imperfections.

Perfection is Imperfect

If you feel as though perfectionism is hard to come by, you’re not alone.

Nobody, nor any idea, is perfect. Accept the idea that striving to do your very best is good enough and will eventually lead you down a brilliant path. If you have a perfectionist streak in you, try and let it go, and embrace the process of getting your idea out into the world, rather than focusing on the end result.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Hoxmark via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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