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3 Reasons Why Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Progress

perfectionism
noun
refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

Ever since I could walk I have delighted in writing, drawing, and anything which allows me to be creative. For instance, in an attempt at creating my own ‘books’, 6-year-old me would fold a stack of A4 paper in half, staple the sides together and begin scribbling. One story which sticks in my mind is a tale of an apple and a banana who stumble upon a tomato. They then proceed to have a heated argument on whether it was a fruit or a vegetable – gripping stuff, I know.

Another one of my creations was a Bratz doll magazine (please tell me someone else was obsessed with these) which I assembled when I was about seven or eight. It consisted of dot to dot pages, word searches, and the all-important, ‘which Bratz doll are you?’ quiz. I then got my dad to photocopy them and sold them to my friends and family for a bargain price of 2p each. I was a girl who knew how to make a profit.

On the whole, I was a creative child. I allowed my mind to wander and I didn’t stop to think, ‘is this good enough?’, I just created what I wanted. While my stories and ‘magazines’ might not have been hitting the bestseller lists anytime soon, I had fun. However, one day, I stopped writing stories, I stopped setting my mind free, and why?

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress

Perfectionism crept up and caught me in its grip. I started to fear that everything I wrote or created wasn’t good enough. It is the desire to achieve perfection which stopped me in my tracks, and I’m not alone when I say this. So, why is it that perfectionism hinders our progress and stops us from reaching our goals?

Welcome preachy Evie in 3,2…

It Creates Anxiety and a Feeling of Worthlessness.

What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those under its spell desire success, they are most preoccupied with avoiding failure, so their attitude ultimately becomes negative.

Perfectionists strive for the best and fear failure. Take this blog for example. I lingered over the idea of starting up my own blog for years. What stopped me was the fear of whatever I wrote not being good enough, no one reading it, or overall feeling that it would be pointless. No matter how many times I sat down and wrote, I didn’t think it was worthy.

Despite how much I enjoy writing, perfectionism prevented me from posting my content online. Moreover, if I did create something, I’d always be left feeling as if it could be better. A quote which encapsulates this is ‘allowing perfectionism to run the show is like being on a hamster wheel’; you just keep going and going and going, even after you’ve reached your original goal.

Fear of failure dominates and ultimately, progress becomes impossible. However, if you are passionate about something, don’t let your perfectionism hold you back. At the end of the day, nothing will ever be perfect. Sometimes we need failure to recognise our mistakes and progress. What’s more, creativity is subjective, so, people are always going to enjoy different content.

Today, while yes I still hesitate when hitting the blue publish button, I write because I enjoy it. I know not everything is going to be flawless and some posts will be better than others. Don’t let doubt stop you.

It Causes Procrastination

Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility, and often it leads to procrastination.

It is a vicious circle really. You want to do something, be it write a novel or design a website. However, the fear of it not being first-class quality, or not going well provokes procrastination. As I did with my blog, you dillydally until eventually, years have passed and you haven’t progressed. Perfectionists who procrastinate set unrealistic expectations and then avoid work to rid themselves of the anxiety it causes.

The thought of writing a novel, for instance, seems impossible, overwhelming, a project which is far too big and therefore is a cause of anxiety. So, what do we do? We avoid these activities and consequently, don’t progress. Instead, to tackle these projects, think about what needs to be done, how to make it happen, and break it into smaller and more manageable pieces.

I could have started this blog years ago, but because I procrastinated, all I have done is lost time. Just look at how quick this year has flown by. Time isn’t stopping for anyone, so remove distractions, make a plan, and start progressing today.

Fear of Judgement

Perfectionism causes us to worry about what other people will think of our work or achievements. What if they don’t like it? Will people laugh? Are people going to judge me? In time, people’s words and perceptions of us shape our own beliefs about ourselves.

Furthermore, we’re guilty of judging ourselves. We rate or grade ourselves in comparison to others, be it online or in real life, in almost everything we do. And, we almost always come up short in our estimation. However, it is this comparing mindset which hinders progress and creativity. It’s important to remember that each of us work and learn in different ways.

Social media, in particular, puts a ton of pressure on us to be perfect; we need to look a certain way, have a certain number of followers, or make a certain amount of money. Amid all of that pressure, it’s easy to forget who we are and what we actually want to achieve.

Despite what you may think, judgment is essential for success. Rather than blocking your path, other people’s opinions and judgement will help you progress.

It’s important to stop comparing ourselves to others and create for ourselves. We need to be confident in our own abilities and know our own shortcomings. That’s when our best work will flourish.

Moving Forward

So, what else can we do to avoid perfectionism’s trap?

Find a routine

Creating a routine in which you can spend some time, be it 15 minutes or 2 hours, to write, create, whatever it is, each day will help you to form a habit and progress.

Perhaps in those 2 hours, 80% of what I write is complete waffle and three pages of me rambling. However, tomorrow I can spend my scheduled time sieving through the drivel and improve the work. Nothing is going to be how you want it at first. The important thing is to stop when you’re happy with what you’ve created and ignore perfectionism’s voice saying it’s not good enough.

Create to-do lists

Tackling big projects can seem overwhelming. However, by separating the project into smaller, more manageable chunks, it will become more achievable. Write a list of everything you need to do in order to progress towards your final goal. Evernote is perfect for saving any ideas you may have and making lists, all in one place. Organisation is key to avoid feeling dumbfounded.

Ultimately, the fear of something not being good enough will only prevent progress. So, overlook your fears, quit procrastinating and embrace all judgement you may receive.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this longer post – I procrastinated for way too long when it came to starting up my blog. I’m just so glad that I finally got around to doing it.

Would you call yourself a perfectionist? Let me know in the comments!

Until the next post,

Evie x.

57 Comments

  1. I’d call myself a perfectionist. I also used to be obsessed with Bratz dolls!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha glad I wasn’t the only one! Thanks for reading x

  2. This is such a great post! I would not say I am that much of a perfectionist but I can totally relate to the procrastination part! Whenever I need to start something big, I always procrastinate thinking I will not be good enough when in fact once you start it, it gets easier!
    Thanks for sharing! xx
    https://beaulife.org

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah I feel like a lot of us don’t start bigger projects because of how daunting they seem – but exactly! Getting started is normally the hardest part. Thanks for reading! X

  3. Liked it so much and the feature pic too. I thought they all are the same😂

  4. abbiejadewanders abbiejadewanders

    This resonates so much with me! I have always been a perfectionist and it genuinely can be so difficult! Thankyou for sharing ☺️

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I feel like a lot of us will always be affected by our perfectionism – such a struggle! Thanks for reading 💖

  5. That’s so sweet that you used to make little books when your were so young, I wish I was that inventive when I was younger. My love for writing, reading and being creative didn’t happen until I was about age 14.

    I couldn’t agree more on your points on why perfectionism is ruining progress, we often put so much pressure on ourselves that its making us stressed, insecure, putting doubt in our minds and more.

    This post was so related, which also slightly worries me as I wish I didn’t care so much and just focused on me!

    Alys / alysgeorge.blogspot.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I was definitely a lot more creative when I was younger! Yeah exactly – we are our own worst enemies sometimes, but a routine and positive mindset can help us progress! Thank you so much for the lovely comment, it’s something a lot of people can resonate with! X

  6. julietlylillyrose julietlylillyrose

    This is so true. I procrastinate because I feel overwhelmed and it makes it so hard to move forward. And I make lists like all the time but sometimes the lists are too intense and I just end up watching youtube all day. Create a routine is a cool idea. I’ll give it a try.

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Sometimes lists can be kept shorter so they’re more manageable! Yeah definitely give it a try! Thanks for reading 💕

  7. Oh the editing process in my house is immense! I’m never good enough some days and I berate myself for lack of people following me. My other half bring me down to earth by telling me I’m amazing – you need it sometimes!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s true that we are our own worst critic sometimes! I’m the same with my followers and blog posts, but exactly! Surrounding ourselves with positivity is so important! X

  8. I love this post and I completely agree that fear of judgement definitely hinders progress, none of my family know I run my blog because I don’t know what they’d think of it, I’ve had it for over 6 months now and I’m still so scared to tell anyone!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah I was the same, but once they found out they’ve all been so supportive. Your blog is amazing, they’ll be super proud! Don’t let other people’s judgement stop you from doing what you love! Thanks for reading 💖 x

  9. This is such a brilliant post Evie! I am exactly the same and sometimes procrastinate for too long and don’t create anything new. I think your suggestion of a to-do list is a great way to stay focused and on track. Sometimes we just need to go for it and the results may suprise us. Keep up the great work girl 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  10. The pursuit of perfectionism is exhausting, but it’s so hard to let go.

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I completely agree, I feel like a part of me will always be a perfectionist, but accepting that perfection is impossible is essential so we can progress. Thanks for reading!

  11. Loved your post and the pictures. I struggle with perfectionism and analysis paralysis as well. But I think that is part of the creative process. Learning to create a process is a struggle until the light bulb comes on and you have something that works well for you. The goal is to hang in there and keep going until it all comes together. Thanks for the insight.

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! I completely agree – we all work in different ways and it’s just a matter of finding what works best for us and progressing from there. It’s important not to lose faith when things don’t go as planned. Thanks for reading!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! 💖

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you!

  12. Great post, Evie! I can’t tell you how much of a perfectionist I was starting my blog. Had to have the best Host, Platform, pictures. EVERYTHING. When I sat down with my artist to create my header for Uniquely Minded, I remember the stress of it having to look perfect. Every letter had to be right, but then again my site is my baby so… you know, it had to be good lol but you’re so right on about perfection being toxic! It’s sort of takes away the fun and excitement out of our creativity

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Your header is gorgeous tbf haha! But yeah I agree, while in an ideal world, everything we create would be perfect, it’s not possible! We can be our own worst critics and I think it’s important to stop stressing and have fun with whatever it is we want to do. Thanks for reading! x

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! I feel like it’s something a lot of people can resonate with! X

  13. Being a perfectionist honestly is so hard at times – I’m having the hardest time just letting the damn little things go haha and I want things to be the best they can, but I know that’s impossible, too. such a struggle.
    That was a great post, thank you for sharing! ❤

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I’m the same haha, I stress over the smallest things but nothing can ever be perfect! Thank you so much 💖

  14. It’s as if you’ve written this post just for me! I’ve always been a terrible perfectionist and I spend ages writing and rewriting my posts because I’m always afraid that they’re not good enough. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time daydreaming about what I want to do but never actually doing it because I don’t want to feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out. After reading this, I’ll definitely look at my perfectionist behaviour and try not to let it hinder my progress. Thanks for writing this!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah I’m exactly the same! I always find myself daydreaming about what I want to achieve but never get around to making a start on it! Forming a plan and starting to make some to-do lists are definitely great places to start! Thanks for reading 🙌 x

  15. This is so true!

    I kind of beat myself up about stuff but then when I step back, I’m like “hey, why am I being so hard on myself? What I’ve done is actually good!” But it’s definitely hard to do that sometimes!

    Rhianna x
    http://www.tsundokugirl.com

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s definitely something which affects a lot of us! We can be so hard on ourselves and sometimes fail to recognise our achievements – thanks for reading! X

      • Exactly! We should be our own cheerleaders but it’s so easy to fall into the trap of the opposite! X

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah I still have a long way to go – I still find myself stressing over the smallest thing but exactly! It’s just a case of finding what works best for us. Thanks for reading 💖

  16. I relate so much to this post (even the Bratz doll part lol)! I really needed this reminder and I’m glad I’m not the only one working on leting go a little bit. 🙂

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha glad I’m not alone! Yeah it’s definitely something which affects a lot of us, it’s just a case of finding what works best for us 💖

  17. So true in so many ways. I have so many ideas from writing a book to formatting my blog. Etc etc. But for the most part I let time slip me by and I don’t do anything because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or I don’t have the right steps in order. Thank you for this article 💗

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah I’m exactly the same! It’s just a case of finding what works best for each of us and finding a routine in which we can really tackle the projects we want to carry out. Thanks for reading! x

  18. I feel the same! I wanted to start a blog for years, and did on and off, but it never took off or went anywhere at all because I was too scared. I’m so happy I bit the bullet and went for it this time, I am loving what I am doing now! Some amazing tips in here, Evie 💖

    Beka | http://www.bekadaisies.com

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yess exactly. Getting started is always the most overwhelming part! I regret leaving it until recently to start my blog too, but I couldn’t be happier now that I have – thank you! 💖

  19. A brilliant read, and I too was obsessed with Bratz!! I actually wrote about perfectionism amongst dancers in my dissertation and reading this reminded me of how much we can criticise and compare ourselves to others. I’m so glad you wrote something about this because I feel many people, including myself, can relate!! Xx

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah thank you so much, that means a lot! That sounds so interesting! Yeah it’s definitely true that we are our own worse critics, but we need to remember that everyone is different. Just a case of being proud of our own achievements and finding what works best for us! Thanks for the lovely comment! 💖

  20. Everything you said here is so true and I relate sooo much. Especially the fear, I stress so much about something not being good enough for my own ridiculously high standards that I think no one else is going to like it either. I’m so aware of the fact it holds me back but it’s such a hard habit to break! Great post lovely, I’m sure so many people can relate to this x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s definitely something which affects a lot of us, we set such high standards for ourselves! We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and recognise our achievements! Thank you so much x

  21. I totally agree with you about these statements! Perfectionism makes you miss the bigger picture and holds you back. It’s also a way to put down your self-esteem, which is a big no no! Creating a routine sounds like a great idea because at least you have a better awareness of your surroundings and everything. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah exactly! I find a routine with some to-do lists the perfect way to relieve some stress and it helps me focus on what I want to achieve. It’s just a case of finding what works best for us! Thank you x

  22. I agree completely. I am unfortunately a perfectionist too – thus I suffer from many of the problems you described. The worst one for me? I am terrified anyone would see my failure. I don’t know why. It’s so crazy I didn’t tell anyone about my blog (one friend last night only) and I’ve been more comfortable publishing things read by strangers. Thank you for this post, it made me take a closer look at the issue.
    Dorota
    http://www.fetchcandle.wordpress.com

  23. This is a wonderful post, and exactly what I needed right now! I’ve been a little bit worried about content of late, because I have this inane need to make everything perfect. But this reminded me that it isn’t all about that – if everything is perfect to begin with, then there’s no room at all for progress. Thank you! 😊

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you so much! Yes exactly! It’s important to be proud of what you’ve achieved so far because perfection is impossible at the end of the day! Thanks for reading x

  24. ruthinrevolt ruthinrevolt

    This is brilliant and so, so true! I know that trying to be perfect and make everything I do perfect is a root cause of anxiety for me a lot of the time, so your post was a great reminder for me to not stress about it so much.

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Yeah 100%, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to attain perfection when really it isn’t possible. Thanks for reading x

  25. Yes! I agree with this so much. I made myself ill at uni working so hard trying to get it perfect, it’s really something that is difficult to balance.

    chloexlizabeth ♡

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah I’m the same, we just put way too much pressure on ourselves, but nothing is ever going to be perfect. Thanks for reading! x

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