Last summer, I imaged spending a ton of time on this website, one of my clubs, and learning some new skills. Instead, it’s been more of a catch-up game filled with deadlines. I decided to take a CLEP Exam right in the beginning of summer and had to deal with a couple of club meetings plus trying to de-stress. Plans I had got thrown to the waste side and the image of me getting everything done looked nothing more than a fantasy.
At first, I thought it was because I needed more time to chill after classes let out, and I didn’t give myself enough time. Then, a few days ago it hit me. I was falling behind everything because I wanted all my work to be perfect. I have started on a couple of articles, but I would never finish them. For my club, I would start thinking about ways to improve the club, but I never acted on them. In my mind, I needed to wait.
The time for waiting and overthinking is over. Here are some ways to get over wanting to be a perfectionist.
Related: How to Really be Successful
1. Are you afraid of success or failure?
Hearing about someone being afraid of failure is more common. It makes sense. When someone is afraid of failure, they will go over everything to make sure it’s “perfect” or get so overwhelmed with the pressure that he/she does nothing. On the other hand, failure of success seems so weird.
How can someone be afraid of success? Well, I came to the conclusion that I was. Being afraid of success can happen if you’re afraid of all the responsibilities and change that come with success. This has a strange way of mixing in with perfectionism. For me, I thought I needed more time to improve myself, so I can handle the success that comes my way. The problem: if I wait for the moment when I feel ready, that means I have waited too long and missed wonderful opportunities.
It’s important to know which one you’re dealing with because it can direct you to the real reason your stalling and how to fix it. If you also feel like you are afraid of success, you should check out this wonderful article of fear of success by Mark McGuinness.
For me, when I’m dealing with being afraid of failure it means that I don’t believe I can do it. When I’m dealing with being afraid of success, it means I have confidence that I can get what I want, but I don’t believe that I can keep the momentum going. Each requires a different action to overcome it, and I constantly go back and forth.
One of the biggest things that a perfectionist uses is time. Time to wait for everything to be “complete.” Time to wait for the “right” word or thought. Well, when you have a deadline you can’t change, it forces you to create something even if it isn’t your best work.
How many of us had only a few hours to complete that final essay/project and were just starting? A ton of us have managed to get the final project done, yet we can’t finish our own projects with ample amount of time.
For the deadlines, I suggest using a timer for your tasks and a date for large pieces of the project. Don’t feel terrible if you won’t make your deadlines. I set deadlines all the time and only manage to get a few things on my list was done. I have an optimistic view and think I can get more done in a certain timeframe than what I can really get done. The deadline helps me focus.
Having a deadline adds that sense of urgency when you would otherwise not be working on that project.
You might be able to tie up loose ends later
There are plenty of times where I would stay up trying to finish that last paragraph. I would spend 20 minutes on 1 sentence. The worst part was I would still have time to revise my work later if I wasn’t spending so much time trying to craft the best sentence ever. Not to mention, time away from your work lets you see the flaws better.
How many personal projects that you still haven’t finished? The silly part is since it’s a personal project there is more of an option to go back after you “finished” it. For instance, I’ll publish this post, and it’ll be checked off as done on my to-do list. However, I can always go back and update the post as I see fit.
Even though I don’t plan to update all my posts, having the option available makes it easier to hit publish. So, think back to your personal projects. Get ready to jump in. Worst come to shove, you go back and fix the mistakes later.
We want to put our best work out there, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from doing the work. By acknowledging what’s stopping us from just going for it, we can accomplish a lot more!
Are you a perfectionist?