Tag Archives: goals

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Round-About Resolutions for a Perfectionist

I don’t really make new year’s resolutions (maybe cuz I am worried that using the term “resolution” will jinx me somehow), but if there was one thing I would focus on improving in 2012, it would be to reach out to others more for feedback in my endeavors and to experiment more publicly. (Okay, okay, it’s a resolution.)

I am a huge perfectionist. I get it from my mother and grandmother, who both said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” (Nevermind that “right” is a totally amorphous undertaking.) Until reading an article from Dr. Jeff Szymanski, the author of The Perfectionist’s Handbook, I never really connected my perfectionism with my likelihood to trudge forward on personal projects without much input from others. But apparently it is endemic of perfectionists to behave this way, and it makes perfect sense. Dr. Szymanksi outlines the tendency for perfectionists to think that showing a product to others in a potentially imperfect state creates the impression — primarily and perhaps even only to the perfectionist — that they aren’t showing their best work and are therefore performing below par, an assumption that makes one tend to hold something close to the chest until the very last moment. Yet he argues that early feedback and involvement from others can provide a stepping stone from which to make a number of previously unconsidered modifications that can allow any endeavor to shine that much more brightly. He argues that in order to be a true perfectionist, one has to go beyond their ingrained perfectionistic habits and put the imperfect product up on the critique board.

He also talks about how procrastination is a main theme for perfectionists. If we feel we can’t do it perfectly, then we may never get a start.

I like mulling on the topic of perfectionism especially at this time of year, as it is often our over-inflated expectations of ourselves that keep us from actually achieving any new years resolutions we may have set for ourselves. Perhaps the answer isn’t in setting lower expectations, but in understanding that striving is most important, and that we are never really going to fully arrive. It’s good to leave room for unexpected twists and surprises. Maybe the outside world will give feedback that will point things in a new direction, or priorities will shift… Or even doing a little bit is better than doing nothing. After all, we never really ever fulfill our potential, as our potential only grows as we grow.

In Jonathan Fields’ book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance, he talks a lot about leaning into our doubts and opening up our endeavors to the input of others, sometimes in a very public way. It can create accountability, but also it allows us to lean on the genius of others in reaching for our goals. And of course I’m talking Goals here with a capital G… Starting that book that’s been lurking in the back of your mind, lighting a fire under your business, evolving your painting passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

You could set some resolutions that are easy to achieve, low-hanging fruit that will make you feel accomplished, something to keep you inspired to do more. I have a friend whose resolution last year was to wear more suits, and he achieved that one with aplomb. Mine this year is to be more compassionate, especially with myself… A little more esoteric, but one that I am certain I will accomplish, and even moreso with the added focus of making it my resolution. The big Resolutions are ones that I am not so sure I will achieve, if I am to be honest, but that I am dedicated to making progress on. Blogging consistently, sharing more with my social networks, experimenting and helping others as much as possible through the sharing of information and ideas. All of these things have been on my radar some way in the past, and every year I gain more progress, improve my habits, build better and better foundations. I’m even more successful when I overcome my tendency to ferret something away until it feels perfect enough… Which it never does. Learning to live with that artist idiosyncrasy is the best thing I have gained as an adult, because I can more easily fulfill my promise of being more compassionate with myself when I remember it.

So perhaps this year’s ultimate goal for me is to give in to the process and reduce my stranglehold on perfection. After all, in a constantly evolving world — especially the landscape of communication, society and business called the internet — one is best served by leaning into the community and innovating real-time than letting ideas of perfectionism cause one to stagnate and lose relevancy. Feedback is something that is inevitable anyway, and the earlier one receives feedback, the earlier one can change course or reconsider… or the earlier one can come to terms with the fact that they are going to do it their way no matter what. Perfectionism is a moving target. Connection and evolution thrive on communication and the willingness to experiment and put things out there.

And a good dose of compassion can help us along the way as the Road of Resolutions makes its twists and turns throughout 2012. Here’s hoping that yours starts off with a wonderful wind in your sails.

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5 Tips for Well-Intentioned Success

There are five things you can do to make sure the parameters you set for success are the most fulfilling, most positive, and most attracting for your big (or small) project. Keeping these things in mind throughout all phases of the project will ensure that you get only the best out of your endeavor.

Intentional Success: Tip #1

Define your parameters for success… before you even start preparations. Creating intention is a powerful thing, and it can set the tone for everything on the project, long before you have officially begun. Set the tone for what you want, and you’ll be amazed at what shows up to help you along the way. This also allows you to positively frame any setbacks that appear. You decide what is important and what you can let go.

Set the tone for success from the beginning, and things will line up to support you.

Intentional Success: Tip #2

Hone in on your core intentions and reframe any that come from a place of fear. Are your intentions really positive, go-get-em-tiger aspirations, or are they framed in anticipation of failure? If you think, “God, I couldn’t possibly bear to fall short of X,” then you know you are onto a potentially destructive intention that is all about fear rather than faith. Can you get to the bottom of why X would feel like a failure? If it touches on any hot button topics for you, journal it out or talk to a friend. Change how you think about it until the potential realization of that failure starts to look like a door to a new success.

Stressful projects are made to bring up new things for you to deal with… So try to deal with those negative assumptions ahead of time so they are less likely to make a surprise visit, at the time you want it least! And most of all, be gentle with yourself if they do come up. Breathe and reframe the failure until you can see why it is actually an opening to learning something new.

Artists know about the “happy accident,” where a mistake becomes a brilliant discovery. Leave room for those accidents to become acts of genius!

Intentional Success: Tip #3

Prioritize your intentions so you know what to aim for first. What is the most important intention for you on your project? When you keep this in mind, it helps to focus your thoughts about success more keenly. You may think you want to win a contest or blow away the competition… But maybe you really want to enjoy yourself or make new connections. Sure, maybe there is an edge of competition to what you are trying to achieve, but if you know you really want to put fun first, for instance, you can remind yourself to approach it in a spirit of playful contest. Don’t let others define your intentions for you, either, or you may end up losing motivation right when things are getting heated, when you realize you leapt on board for someone else’s measures of success.

Your primary intention of success will line up all the rest of your intentions, and will give a clear direction for your energy.

Intentional Success: Tip #4

When it’s done… sleep!… then review your successes. You may have to take a break and get some rest after you are done with your Big Thing, because a tired mind is not always the most kind. When you get a bit of downtime (which I hope you have built into your plan!), write in your journal, take some time to meditate, or take yourself on a walk or out to breakfast.

Compare your achievements to your intended goals. Did something go off the rails? Did you reach too high? Or did you go in knowing that it was tough and you were satisfied to have tried? Maybe you framed everything in such a way that you feel like the whole thing was a huge success! Take stock of everything and file it away.

Remember… setting high goals can be invigorating, with the right attitude. And if you feel disappointment about something after the project is done, try to reframe your analysis. You probably achieved things you hadn’t even accounted for and received gifts that you never would have imagined on your own. And if you did your work from the start and set positive intentions, the chances of those things being very easy to find will be extremely high.

Most people wrap up a project by thinking about what they should do differently next time. Just make sure you give ample time to acknowledge the good… without equivocation.

Intentional Success: Tip #5

Tell everyone how awesome you are. Okay, so you don’t spend all the livelong day boring friends and families with tales of your supreme wonderfulness, but definitely toot your horn about what you achieved! You worked hard and you earned it.

Sharing your success with others teaches them to embrace their own success, and it helps you build on your own feelings of esteem for the Next Big Thing.