How to Turn Perfectionism into Productivity
“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.” – Old French Proverb
If there’s one thing that can cripple a writer, it’s perfectionism.
Have you ever been paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough, or that everything you do is never going to meet the standards you set for yourself?
Remember the last time you bought a self-help book, excited to start reading because you knew it would help you improve your life? Or the time when you wanted to get into the best shape of your life and start exercising and eating healthy?
You made a decision to make a change but something kept pulling you down so you kept putting it off.
And instead of doing what you knew you wanted to do, you kept procrastinating.
But before we go any further, let’s face the truth.
These standards you set for yourself where nothing you do is good enough, is actually what others expect of you, so you get lost in what it is that you really want and what you think is expected of you.
Just think about it. You pardon everyone’s mistakes but your own. You give others your time freely even though they don’t appreciate it. You worry what others would say when you should really be worrying about what YOU feel and think.
Now think about it. Which of these apply to you?
- Fear of being criticized (as writers, this is something we don’t want to experience)
- Believe that you do not deserve the outcome you want
- Paralyzed by perfectionism – afraid of not being perfect
- Doubt in yourself
- Unsure where to start
I was paralyzed by perfectionism for years and one thing I can tell you for sure is that perfectionism is empty and absolutely exhausting.
It doesn’t make you feel perfect, it makes you feel inadequate.
Striving to be perfect is not trying to be your best self. It is actually accentuating the worst in you because nothing you do will ever be good enough.
When you look deeper and realize that everything around you is imperfect, you find a sense of freedom. All of a sudden the thought of trying to please everyone, being someone you are not, and worrying what others may think starts to fade.
I’ve learned this so many times in life after making silly mistakes. But once I let go of what had already been done, I stopped worrying. I set myself free of others’ expectations.
And so can you.
There are several ways to let go and turn your perfectionism into productivity. Here are a few simple habits that I developed and embraced over the years that helped me greatly in curing my perfectionism paralysis and becoming a highly productive writer and person.
Find the source
Ask yourself, “Where does it come from?”
- From years of conditioning
- From trying to live how others wanted you to live
- From having modeled yourself according to someone who made you believe that you were not good enough so you always needed to prove that you are perfect?
What do you fear?
- Being rejected?
- Being unsuccessful or even massively successful?
The reality is that fear will always be there; it’s a natural part of life. But it is just a reaction to your thoughts. It is not real.
Your strengths are real, turn to them instead.
Whatever your fear is, write down the worst that could happen in any of these situations. This will help you see yourself in a completely new light, giving you the opportunity to live a more realistic and productive life.
Just burn it!
Take a few minutes to pause and think. What thoughts come to mind that make you think you have to be perfect? Write them down. Write everything that is on your mind and in your heart. Then put it in a metal bucket and burn it.
Now let’s go back to procrastination. What is it really?
To put it simply, procrastination is the act of postponing a task that you know you should do but you do something else instead.
You know you suffer in a relationship but you keep putting off leaving it. You know your body needs exercise but you somehow always find an excuse not to do it. You never get anything done because you easily lose motivation and simply give up. Even though you can easily imagine yourself getting what you want, the problem is that your mind wants instant results and doesn’t really want to wait all that time that it takes you to accomplish your goal.
So today, I’d like to share with you four simple actions that helped me stop procrastinating.
Whatever you are procrastinating on, make sure you take it in your hands and touch it. If it is a project you are working on, just take the papers and feel them. If it is a book you are planning to read, take the book and read the first page. If you are neglecting your wellbeing and avoiding staying active, just put on your gym clothes, feel them, and get used to wearing them.
Before you go to bed, write down exactly what you need to accomplish the following day, giving priority to the most important task for the day. I know that for some it may seem easy to just jot down a few tasks and know exactly what they need to do. However, if you are like me and like to add a bit of warmth and creativity to your to-manifest list, write the tasks down in a form of a story describing exactly what you are going to do the next day. Then visualize all the steps in your head as if that day had already happened. This exercise takes less than 5 minutes to complete but it works every time. Going to bed in peace, knowing that you’re already on top of your tasks for the next day will bring incredible sense of peace and satisfaction before your day even starts.
Whenever I start a task, I always keep track of my time to make sure that I focus on that task only. I give myself 45 minutes to work followed by a 15-minute break. Then once the break is over I work for another 45 minutes until I complete the task. This gives me that much-wanted feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Sometimes, putting your timer to 10 minutes to start with will make all the difference. You just have to start.
This shouldn’t be that difficult. For writers, that is. When you start working on an important task or developing a new habit, it is easy to get off track and out of focus. So, it is important to write everything down and see your progress on paper. This way you’ll realize that what you are working on is real and just seeing it in front of you will motivate you to move forward.
Remember to start small and focus only on the next step not on the whole picture. This will help you stay focused and motivated.
And of course, take time to just pause and be. We get overwhelmed by so many tasks each day that we forget to stop and relax. Sometimes taking a mindful break and realizing where you are and how far you’ve come is all you need to gain your energy back and move forward.
Knowing that the timing will never be just right for anything in life, and realizing that you have the power and strength in you to begin today will set you free. So, begin working on your dreams and goals, and creating the life you’ve always wanted to live. Don’t wait a second longer.
You deserve everything you want to have in life. You deserve a life you love, a peaceful sleep, a caring partner by your side. You deserve to be free, healthy, happy, and successful.
Keep moving forward because every step you take today gets you closer to where you want to be.