A short while ago I wrote a post about keeping up with blogging without feeling overwhelmed. You see, blogging isn’t just about writing interesting posts, it’s about making sure that people actually see them!
As a consequence, I spend most of my time sharing my posts on social media as well as responding to/sharing other people’s posts. Not that I’m moaning, but a short while ago I didn’t feel like I was coping too well. My post explained my methods for keeping on top of everything and asked other bloggers for their views as well.
A self-imposed break
A few weeks ago I started to get stiffness in my fingers and a slight pain in my right wrist. I was worried that it could be Repetitive Strain Injury or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I decided to cut back on the time I spent typing/using my laptop at home for a short while, and did a self-imposed ban on daily social media shares. I’d got a few blog posts already scheduled so there was nothing much else to do for the week.
The thought of not posting on social media filled me with so much anxiety! I had all sorts of catastrophic thoughts going through my mind, like my blog fading into oblivion or everyone forgetting about me. Obviously, neither of these things happened!
What did the break teach me?
It was harder than I thought to have that break, but I was worried that my hands would get worse. You might think choosing health is a no-brainer, but during my ‘week off’ I realised that there had been a fear driving my need to keep up with social media.
After some digging around, I discovered that my fear was about ‘getting it right’, wanting to be good at blogging, to grow my following, and wanting to be liked. In other words, it was my view of ‘perfectionism’.
I realised that while these things were possible, I had to be realistic. Not everyone would be into the things I blogged about, not everyone would like me, and some people might ‘unfollow’ me (it still hurts a bit when I see someone has unfollowed/unsubscribed!).
The problem with perfectionism
Somewhere within all this fear, there was nothing about me blogging for the shear enjoyment of it. I love writing and getting my thoughts ‘out there’ is really therapeutic for me, which is why I started in the first place. I love the people I’ve met online, and there’s a lot of inspirational people whom I’ve learnt from 🙂
But I feel that this is what can happen when you aim for perfectionism; it takes the fun out of things. It moves you further away from the original reason you started doing them. Rather than experiencing the love and the ‘buzz’ you get from doing something that satisfies you, it becomes a never-ending ‘check list’ of ensuring that you’ve done everything ‘right’. The slightest thing out of place can end up causing huge anxieties.
The fantasy of perfection
And actually, what is ‘perfect’? It’s like a unicorn; people can talk about it and create images of it but no one can actually grab it and say ‘Look, this is it! This is perfectionism!’. Plus, if you and I were to sit down and draw our perceptions of a unicorn then we’d come up with very different versions!
Bottom line is that perfectionism doesn’t exist. We cannot touch it, we cannot hold it. We can perhaps perceive it as a certain set of criteria, but because this changes from person to person then perfectionism isn’t actually something that’s definable. If it’s not definable then we cannot actually achieve it.
What’s the solution?
I guess it’s easier said than done if, like me, you have a tendency to go ‘all out’ whenever you do something you enjoy. It’s easy to get caught up in the treadmill of ‘striving’ to reach a certain level and forget about why you started in the first place. So here are some things I found useful from my recent experience:
- Take a break. Even if it’s just a few days, take some time off to step away from the situation and evaluate how things are going. Is it time to make changes to how you’re doing things?
- Cut back a bit. Could you afford to do a bit less than what you’re doing now? Even if you take your foot off the throttle, is it really going to have the detrimental impact you think it will?
- Be easier on yourself! We only have so much time in the day. More often than not we have competing priorities and it’s not always possible to get everything done that we’d like. The world will keep spinning and more often than not, people won’t notice because they’re too busy spinning their own plates!
- Think about what is driving your perfectionism. From what I’ve found in myself and other people, perfectionism is normally driven by fear. This might be because you attach your fundamental value as a person to whatever it is you’re trying to be perfect in. You might fear that people won’t love you, that you’ll be forgotten, that you won’t matter. What’s your fear?
- Remember, there is no such thing as perfectionism. It’s a subjective concept which differs depending on the person. Even if you ask someone to define what perfectionism looks like they’ll have a hard time telling you. A lot of times people say “I want it/me/them to be perfect!” but they cannot define what they mean.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This will do nothing for your sense of self-worth. Remember, whilst on the outside you might perceive that others are doing better that you, you don’t know their story. They might actually be struggling more than you know. OR if they’re not struggling, maybe they have more time to dedicate to the things they’re doing than you do. That’s not a slight against you. It’s just we all live within different circumstances and try and work within those limits (see below).
- Aim to do the best that YOU can do with the resources/time you have. But, remember to be realistic about the resources and time you have! Don’t look at what other people are doing, as their situation is different. Stay true to what you enjoy and work within your own limits. We all have limits, and they’re all okay!
I hope these tips help you with any problems you might have with perfectionism.
Do you have a problem with perfectionism? How do you deal with it?!