5 Reasons Why you should stop being a Perfectionist

I’m a perfectionist. It’s hard for me to put something out there without the constant fear that someone won’t like it or that it isn’t as good as it could be.

My perfectionism is a big part of the reason it took me so long to start this blog. I had been wanting to start wanting to write online for some time, but I was afraid that my content wouldn’t be good enough.

Although there are some benefits to being a perfectionist (less grammatical errors, better grades in school, etc.), in the long run it will make you fearful and passive. Below I have listed several of the reasons why you should stop being a perfectionist:

1. Will make you Procrastinate

Like I said earlier, being a perfectionist can often help you get better grades in school. On the other hand, it can also cause you to become an epic procrastinator.

This often happens to me in college. I know I have a big assignment that needs to be done, but I keep procrastinating. Why? because I’m afraid my work won’t be good enough. I grow afraid to the point where my fear paralyzes me.

Growing up I thought grades were the most important thing. I thought that if I failed, that made me a failure. Looking back I realize that I was expecting too much of myself. I was only a kid, not a genius or a highly intelligent robot.

2. Will make you feel bad about yourself when you Fail

So let’s say you procrastinated on a project at work because you were too afraid that your work wouldn’t be good enough for your boss. So you decided to finish the whole project the night before your boss needed it. A few hours after giving it to your boss, he requests a meeting with you. He tells you that the report you wrote for him was rather mediocre. He knew you could do better.

After this short meeting, you head back to your office feeling frustrated and disappointed in yourself. You begin to think extremely negative thoughts about yourself.

I did such a terrible job on your report. The boss should’ve fired me. I am not even a good employee. 

Although your boss may have been right in his assessment, you have no reason to think so negatively about yourself. Yes, you may have done a bad job, but you aren’t perfect and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be. Perfectionism makes failure at one task seem like a failure at being a human being.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the perfectionism mindset is the fact that we equate our actions with our value. We often like to think that what we do, determines who we are. This is simply not true. Your value as a human being is intrinsic. You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of living or being accepted.

When we realize these truths, we can learn to stop beating ourselves up when we fail.

3. Will make you Stressed out

Along with increasing your likeness to procrastinate and making failure seem like a bigger deal than it needs to be, being a perfectionist will stress you out. You’ll spend so much time and energy worrying about whether or not that thing you did was good enough. You’ll often wallow around in guilt as you question whether or not you performed well or not.

When we expect perfection from ourselves, we are often left feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s just better to let things go and be what they are. Not everything you do will be perfect, no matter how much time and energy you put into it.

4. Will make you Judge others

When we are aspiring for perfection we often have an ego. We like to think that we work harder than everyone else and that we deserve to be successful. When you think like that, you will inevitably begin to look down on others.

Let’s say you’re in an accounting class at your university. Because you’re such a hard working student, you have an A in the class. One of your classmates, however, is not doing so well. She is struggling with her grades and often shows up late to class.

You might look at her and think, “man she is never going to go anywhere. She barely shows up to class and she’s always on her phone. If she worked as hard as I do, she’d probably be doing better in this class.”

Do you see how perfectionism can cause you to judge and even look down on other people? Becuase you expect perfection from yourself, you start to expect perfection from everyone else. This type of thinking is often responsible for destroying friendships and relationships.

If we expect everyone to be perfect, how can we extend empathy and compassion to them?

5. Will stop you from Chasing your Dreams

Have you seen that video on Youtube about Famous Failures? It describes how famous and successful men and women failed time and time again until they finally achieved their goals. Micael Jordan didn’t even make his high school varsity team his freshman year (but he did score 40 points a game on JV, but that’s a different conversation).

Perfectionism makes you so afraid to be imperfect that it may paralyze you. It will stop you from being the man or woman you’ve always wanted to be. You’ll be too afraid to put yourself out there.

The fear of failure is one of the things that holds so many people back. If you don’t give any effort to succeed, you never will.

It is also important to remember that fear is a valuable part of growth. Without failure, you will never know what you are doing wrong and will never be able to truly improve.

Failure actually is an option, and it’s a good one.

 

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My Social Media Hiatus & the Importance of Being Present

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Last Friday I did something I thought I’d never do. I deleted all social media apps from my iPhone. At first, I was scared that I’d miss out on something. Our generation hates not knowing what’s going on. But I didn’t miss out. I actually enjoyed life a lot more without the interruption of social media.

I originally made the decision to quit social media for a week because I was extremely behind on school work. I had multiple large assignments due that week, some of which I hadn’t even started.

When I get stressed out I procrastinate. This particular day I was avoiding work by listening to Thomas Frank’s College Info Geek podcast. On the podcast, Thomas was interviewing Cal Newport, a published author and college professor. Newport was discussing how he balances being a professor, author, and consistent blogger.

Newport shared that he has never had a social media account, which to most of us sounds crazy. Even without marketing himself on social media he was able to build a large audience for his blog and his book.

Listening to the interview inspired me to do a little experiment: I would delete all social media applications from my iPhone and see if my productivity and happiness were influenced by it. The short answer is yes. I was extremely more productive and was able to enjoy life more without social media.

(check out the full interview with Cal Newport here)

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After deleting social media I started to realize how much of a distraction it really is. I found myself picking up my phone only to realize that I had nothing to run to. I was forced to live in the present moment. To focus on what was happening in my life at that very second.

Living in the present is one of the most important things to learn if you want to live a happy and productive life. When we learn to live in the present moment we stop feeling bad about the past or worrying about the future. We learn to enjoy life just as it is and make the most of today.

Social media often takes our focus away from what we should be doing (school work, spending time with other human beings, etc.). It is probably the biggest distraction from reality in our current world.

After quitting social media, I became far more productive. I was able to get several large assignments done within a matter of days. Rather than halting my work every couple minutes to check Instagram, I worked constantly without distraction.

We spend much more time on social media than we realize. Time we could be spending doing other things. Time we could be spending on enjoying life, making ourselves better, and accomplishing our goals. If time is as valuable as we say it is, shouldn’t we be spending it doing something greater than scrolling through Facebook?

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Maybe you want to make a major change in your life. Or you want to start a new hobby or catch up on some work. I suggest deleting social media for just a few days.

What’s the worst that could happen? You might miss out on that meme your friend shared or that stupid cat video your aunt tagged you in. But you know what you won’t miss out on? Having actual fun and accomplishing actual task in the real world.

Why Inspiration is Overrated

I procrastinated a lot before I wrote this blog post, mainly because I didn’t feel like it. I never really feel like writing unless I’m in the process of reading a really good book or watch some sort of motivational video. Because of this I don’t get much writing done, I spend more time waiting to feel like writing.

A lot of people say things like “I’ll wait to be inspired, then I’ll do it.” But if you wait for inspiration to come, you’ll never accomplish anything. Inspiration comes and goes and is not worth relying on. Great people don’t wait for inspiration, they just do. Inspiration is great when you’re starting something new, but it fades quickly. Rather than constantly looking for inspiration, we should learn to develop discipline. Discipline is not based on feelings but on habits. Habits are stable unlike inspiration.

Strangely enough, the key to being inspired is actually doing the task you are waiting to be inspired to do.  Once you start the task, you’ll begin to feel more motivated to finish it.

Here’s an example. When I decide I’m going to write a blog post I tend to procrastinate. I’ll sit around and think “oh I can do it later,” or “I have too many other things to do right now.” With this mindset I never get any writing done. But when I open up Evernote and actually start writing I begin to feel more inspired. Once I start it actually becomes hard for me to stop.

This same sort of thing happened to me back in high school when I played basketball. I would sit in my house and play video games rather than going outside to practice. But once I went outside and began to shoot or do ball handling drills I would find myself enjoying it more than the video games I was playing. This principle has helped me be successful in college as well.

Habits are far more important than inspiration. If you get into the habit of going to the gym you no longer need to “feel like” going. You just go. It becomes natural. The same is to be said about anything.

If I decided that I was going to write a book I should set a daily goal. I could write 700 words a day. This would help me meet my goal of writing a book as long as I stay consistent. I definitely won’t feel inspired to write 700 words a day, but if I build the habit I am bound to do it. Then in a matter of months I’ll have a completed book! I wouldn’t have finished my hypothetical book because I was inspired to write it, but rather because I learned to be a disciplined and habitual writer.

I am not trying to say that inspiration is worthless, it certainly has its place, but it is definitely overrated. We should not elevate inspiration to a place where it overshadows more important things such as habit building, discipline, and goal setting. When you learn to practice these, inspiration becomes your servant rather than your master.