Overcoming Perfectionism with Goal Setting
Growing up in public school, I have walked many hallways lined with so-called inspirational posters. You know the one with a picture of a sunset accompanied by Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of success plastered on it? Or maybe you remember the one with a bald eagle reminding you to “dream big.”
As corny as these posters are, one in particular sticks with me to this day: Shoot for the moon. Because even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.
My question for you is, if you found yourself among the stars, would you be happy with your progress thus far or would you focus on your shortcomings and consider your mission a failure?
If I had to guess, you’re reading this blog because you find yourself in the shortcomings-focused group. By the end of this article, you will hopefully learn how to better set and assess goals for yourself.
It’s important to remember that goals are a vital part of our well-being. Without goals, where would any of us be? Seriously, humanity would look drastically different without ambitious people who decided to challenge themselves physically and mentally. So go for it! Don’t be afraid of your big dream!
Tip 1: Goals Should be Value-Centered
Become Insta-famous in 2019. Be the first of my friends to buy a brand new car. Diet and exercise until I have my “revenge body.” These are all examples of extrinsic motivation and will, most likely, leave you feeling dissatisfied when you finally achieve them. However, when we stop and consider our core-values, only then can we switch to intrinsic motivation.
If your goal is to always respond to emails within 24 hours so that others will think of you as successful and having it all together (extrinsically motivated goal), then you will likely fail and find yourself frustrated when you leave at the end of the day with more unread emails than you started with. But, if your goal is to be more friendly, attentive, and communicative in your daily life (intrinsically motivated goal), then you will likely succeed! Sure you might miss a correspondence here and there, but you will likely enjoy the process as you continue to grow in your goal.
Tip 2: Embrace Imperfection
Some experts say that multitasking is a lie, that you can only focus on one thing. They say that multitasking is actually the continual switching of focus between multiple projects (rather than simultaneously working on two or more items) which arguable delays a finished product. When we succumb to this conclusion, we acknowledge that to succeed in one area, we must take away from another (A.K.A. the perfectionists’ nightmare).
Having to say “no” is never the easiest task for a perfectionist. So to ease the guilt of taking away focus from a specific area of your life, inform those who it will affect in advance. Let your friends know that you won’t be able to go out much until you can see your project through. Lean on your spouse when you’re facing a big deadline and request help with dinner and housework. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with eating the occasional takeout!
This whole time while you have been striving to be perfect, your loved ones have accepted you time and time again for your imperfections. It’s time you embrace them too.
Tip 3: Get SMART
Make sure your goals fit the SMART model.
Specific – answer the 5 W’s for each of your goals (Who’s involved? What’s being accomplished? Where will this take place? Why is this my goal? When do I plan on achieving said goal?)
Measurable – A goal should always be able to be measured. Know in advance how you can track success and how you will know that you have reached your target.
Attainable – Sometimes our goals need to be cut in half or have sub-goals in order to achieve the big picture. Focus on the most immediate steps and work towards achieving them first. As you grow, that goal that seemed so far out of reach will keep moving closer to you. Plus, all of your success along the way will be the motivating push you need to reach the finish line.
Relevant – Do your professional goals align with your company’s goals? Do you have one goal that isn’t quite like the others? If our goals are all pointing in the same direction it will be easier to reach them.
Timely – The difference between “someday I would like to own a boat” and “by the time I am 40 years old, I will own a boat” is dedication and urgency. “Someday” is not a timeline and will likely fall flat. If your goals don’t have a deadline, then they are just ideas and wishes. When we set deadlines for ourselves, we are more likely to actively work on achieving them. In the event that your deadline arrives without your goal, don’t give up! Look at the progress you’ve made, re-evaluate, and extend the timeline with a new deadline.
Now that you have the right tools for setting better goals, there’s nothing stopping you from dreaming big!
By Miranda Hardesty Hoffpauir