Conditioning new behavior and breaking habits is never easy, and when done in public they often trigger the very perfectionism I’m trying to break. What’s helping me embrace published ovdr perfect.
The Lure of Quitting
Given that a big motivator for me is to overcome perfectionism, it might not come as a surprise to you that I’ve been incredibly hard on myself in this challenge. Several mentors have suggested I quit, questioning whether this pressure I put on myself is healthy for me.
It’s a fair question. Why create yet another demand on myself? If anything, I need to find ways to do less.
In fact, one of the motivators of this experiment was to do less. Facing the long list of unpublished draft articles in my files, I realized I could write less and publish the backlog. But that hasn’t happened, because I always have other things to say that I want to write about in the moment.
Truth time: this is not the article I wanted to write today. But as I sit down to write this it is 9 PM on a Friday night at the end of a long week, and I really do not want to write about anything. When I actually want to do is veg out in front of the TV.
(Of course, I stopped watching TV on May 29, 2017, so there’s that streak, too.)
So here I am, writing a meta article about my daily publishing streak.
Ideal World vs Real World
My inner critic would like you to know that she has told me that I should have each day’s article completed in advance, set to publish in the morning. She is a perfectionist and properly plans everything, so of course she would say that.
That would be nice, in an ideal world. But my world is not ideal. This is real life.
I have obligations outside of writing.
And sometimes a piece takes more than one day to pull together. And I want to deliver quality, not just quantity.
Sometimes, You Just Don’t Want to Do It
There are times, like tonight, when I find myself at the end of a long week, tired, not really in the mood to write something new, and not really in the mood to polish and publish something in my drafts stack.
This is real life. Sometimes we just don’t want to do things. There are days that I don’t want to go to the gym. I always go. There are days when I’ve gone out for a walk at 11 PM to complete 10,000 steps.
This is the equivalent, with one big difference.
My other daily practices are personal and private. Nobody can see how I’m meeting my commitments to myself. This is the first new practice I’ve built completely in public.
You can follow along. You can see whether I write something or just put up a collection of links. This makes it interesting, to say the least. It adds a new resistance to my process.
I was tempted to share something I saw on Twitter earlier with a brief bullet point list of my takeaways from it. 240 characters and call it a night.
And what would be so wrong with that?
But some subliminal inner judge directed me to write this instead. Isn’t it funny how we can judge ourselves into doing more than we probably need to do?
Or maybe it’s just me.
What 90 Days Feels Like
At this point, 90 days in, my commitment to myself is taking root, but this new behavior is far from locked in. This is the heart of the challenging time in creating a sustainable daily practice. I’ve been here before and know it well.
One of the best things I received was in response to a question I asked about quality versus quantity, in which I mentioned my current streak.
In answering the question, Sonia acknowledged my accomplishment in publishing every day. Although I didn’t need her validation, it felt good to hear it. Who doesn’t appreciate being acknowledged for a big milestone? We all desire to feel seen and heard.
More important, I was able to pause and receive it. She spoke slowly, drawing out the words:
At this stage in the process of creating a new behavior, this type of reinforcement is invaluable. As I took it in, I heard a voice inside me issue a response. It was not the perfectionist or the critic. It was a different voice. A cheerleader, who responded with,
Yeah it is!
Two smart women there. I’d be wise to listen.
Breaking Habits is Hard
Perfectionism is a nasty habit. And, as I always say, it’s harder to break a habit than make a habit.
That acknowledgement and reinforcement that what I am doing is already enough — already more than enough — is how perfectionism begins to crumble.
It’s not an overnight process. It’s not a 21-day, or 30-day, or even a 90-day process. It happens slowly over a longer arc of time. One step, one word, one day at a time.
So, this isn’t what I intially planned to write today, it’s better: it’s what I have to share in this moment. Today.
The other topics will keep. Maybe I’ll share one of them tomorrow. 😉
In the meantime, I’m celebrating 90 days of published over perfect.
Do you struggle with perfectionism? What are some of the rituals you have tried to help yourself escape the chains of perfectionism?