Isn’t it just the best when you set out to get something done - maybe you even write it in your cute little leopard print planner and carve out plenty of time to complete the task, but when it’s finally time to start…..you just don’t wanna do that sh*t? WHYYYYYYY!
Once I discovered that procrastination is a telltale sign of perfectionism (I know, right? I thought I was just being lazy AF), I knew I needed to develop a skillset that reduces my utter avoidance and internal tantrums surrounding certain projects.
Below are 7 mindset exercises that work well for me, as well as my clients. I find that these tips, at the very least, temporarily drop-kick perfectionism far enough away - giving me just enough time to follow-through on something before my dear ol' pal perfectionism comes sprinting back to taunt me. 1. LOOK FOR EVIDENCE
I've noticed a lot of my perfectionistic tendencies stem from not allowing myself to be new, or bad, at something. So, I'll think about a time from my past when I was learning something for the first time that I'm relatively decent at today. For example, I'll remember how nervous I felt the first day of a new job - trying to figure out how to do a damn expense report, feeling uncomfortable on my lunch break because I didn't know anyone, not knowing where to find the bathroom (it was a big place to be fair). Then, I think about how I felt a couple years into that job - crushing expense reports, developing great friendships, and not only knowing exactly where the bathroom is located, but also helping others find the bathroom. Heck, I even got promoted a couple times. Remembering how being new felt in my past gives me permission to feel awkward and uncomfortable about whatever new thing I'm about to embark on at that moment, instead of trying to push those feelings away. There's only one road to improvement and growth - by getting all your shitty drafts out of the way. If you wouldn't scream at a toddler for not having the jump shot technique of an NBA player the first time they hold a basketball, stop screaming at yourself internally for not being the world's greatest podcaster, business owner, comedian, parent, dentist, snowboarder, or hand model on day one. Give yourself a break. Plus, it would honestly be pretty f*cking boring if we were all awesome at everything all the time.
2. REMIND YOURSELF IT'S ONE OF MANY
Remember how I said we need to get our not-so-sexy drafts done so we can move on from feeling so twisted up about the new thing we're trying? Well, I always tell myself "this is one of many" fill in the blank - podcast episodes, online workshops, collaborations, etc. These first, or next, gross steps will soon be a thing of the past, they just won't be a big deal when I look back on this moment some day - I'll even be able to laugh about how nervous I was. I find this really takes the pressure off of this one thing I'm about to do. It's not the one and only thing I'll ever do the rest of my life. I must zoom out and look at the big picture. Just a little peak into my own thought process when I'm stuck in the perfectionism quicksand, "If the podcast (shameless plug check out Self-Helpless) is on for 10 years (hopefully it'll be forever but bear with me) that's about 520 episodes, so even though I didn't expand on this one thought the way I wanted to today, I'll be able to bring it up again at a later date and be even more mindful about how I share it." Ok great I'm done ruminating on this imperfect thing I did today. NEXT. 3. BATCH YOUR WORK Since zooming in on one body of work can be the nail in the coffin for perfectionists, give yourself a new goal. Instead of trying to make this one thing the most perfect thing the planet has ever seen, make 3 of those things at once, or back-to-back. For example, I'm writing 3 blog posts right now and I've given myself two hours. So, instead of nit-picking and analyzing the sh*t out of this one, my goal is no longer a quality goal, it's a quantity goal. My goal is 3 posts within 2 hours, instead of the most perfect post I can possibly create within those two hours - which usually slides into 3 hours, which turns into me putting it off for another week because it's just not ready yet and oh my gosh everything I wrote sounds dumb AF and why am I even doing this. Batching your work can really take the emotion out of the task, which is often necessary, especially if you're working on a personal project. So, paint several vases at a time, write five jokes in one sitting, record 2 episodes of your podcast back-to-back - you get the point. 4. COMPLETE A BABY STEP
If you think about the thing you want, or need, to do in its entirety, you might exhaust yourself and feel too discouraged to work on it. Once I start spiraling about all the little things I'd have to do in order for my project to be finished (which sounds something like..."this is gonna take forever and I don't even know how to do that part how am I gonna learn that or who can help me oh gosh how much will that even cost to hire someone and what if it sucks so bad and what the hell is even the point if I can't knock it all out in one sitting I'll just do it next week when I'll have more time I'm just not prepared enough but maybe I'll just go back to the corporate world and give up on everything anyway so this definitely doesn't need to be worked on right now), I end up driving myself nuts and pass out, or binge watch Love Island (just me? you banterin'?). So instead, I set my alarm and tell myself for the next 5, 10, or 15 minutes (depending on the task), I'm just gonna do the first tiny step. If I get it done before then, great, I can take a break. If I don't get the tiny step done in that allotted time? I still get to take a break. It's a win-win.
5. MINI REWARDS
I've found a nice way to incentivize completing baby steps is to kindly offer myself a little reward after doing so. For example, back when I was painting d*ck mugs for a living (for those who have no clue who I am this will be explained further on many other blog posts haha), I would set my alarm for 10 minutes and my goal was to just paint the outline of the design on the mug. Then, I'd walk away and reward myself for that. My reward might be 20 minutes of a TV show, playing with my fur son, or cleaning my kitchen (not much of a reward for some people but I'm into it). Most days, even when the alarm sounded and my outline was finished, I would keep going because I wanted to. The task no longer felt as daunting. This remains a great way to trick myself into starting something. On days I didn't feel like continuing once the alarm went off, I just repeated this mini reward process until that sh*t was finished.
6. NOBODY GIVES A SH*T
It's always helpful to remember that nobody gives a shit about what you're doing, or not doing (For the most part...I'm sure someone would care if you walked into their home naked throwing confetti singing Blink-182 at the top of your lungs. But, other than that, nobody truly cares what you're up to - not the way you do). Everyone is worried about themselves and what they're doing, or not doing. When I was a stand-up comedian, it was very easy to be extremely critical about everything I wish I had done and said differently after every. single. show. I remember having a conversation with a group of friends at a party once - some had seen me perform before and some hadn't, and one person said, "the bit you do about the greeting cards is my favorite joke of yours," which I told them was very sweet and to keep going with more compliments please. Another person in the group told everyone they had never been to a comedy show - had never even watched a stand-up special on Netflix. I remember feeling so much relief in that moment thinking to myself, these people do not give as many sh*ts about this stuff as I do. They don't care if I forgot to tell part of a joke at my last show, or that I feel guilty for not writing new material that week. For them, watching me perform was a very small portion of their day, or for that other person, comedy was not even of interest to them at all. Thank gawshhh the world does not revolve around us, even though we often put pressure on ourselves as if it does. People have jobs, kids, work, projects, bills to pay, school, family members to care for, dogs, parties to attend, grocery shopping to do, lawns to manicure, bagels to eat - they have their own lives, their own worries, their own interests. They are not trapped inside my head caring about the stuff I care about as much as I care about it, and they're not inside your head either (well at least I don't think so ya might wanna get that checked out). YAY for people not giving a sh*t!
7. 90 YEAR-OLD YOU
Whatever is stopping you from putting yourself out there (often fear of criticism, from others and ourselves), what would you at 90 tell yourself now? "Yeah, you were right not to post that picture of your landscape photography on Instagram, your aunt's friend Martha's grandson may have seen it and thought it was kinda silly." I highly doubt that's the kind of thing you'd be telling yourself. Asking this question ALWAYS puts things into perspective for me. So you know what? Let's all say f*ck Martha and her grandson - post the damn picture, start the business, audition for the role, publish the food blog, take the class, record the podcast, get on stage, sell your cupcakes, paint the portrait, hike that trail. If we're not doing the things we actually wish to be doing, what the heck is even the point?
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