I’ve now listened to three of Stephen Guise’s books. The most recent, How To Be An Imperfectionist, is based on Stephen Guise’s premise that perfectionism leads to anxiety, fear, and procrastination. Find out more and get some other great tips in my top 14 takeaways below:
- If you look for perfection, you will never be content. Perfectionism is an unrealistic way to view the world and live your life. It causes you to view small successes as failures. Progress should be the goal, not perfection.
- Goal size is one of the strongest indicators of perfectionism. This builds on the premise of Stephen Guise’s first book Mini Habits, and further elaborates in Elastic Habits. Have a super small goal you can achieve on your worst day, and have multi-tier goals.That way on your low willpower days you can still maintain momentum and you have the flexibility for larger, more lofty goals on days when you can kick it into another gear.
- The perfectionist seeks safety from what they fear. By setting unrealistic goals you seek a false sense of safety. For example if you only view a good workout as working out for 60 minutes with perfect focus, you will rarely work out, seeking solace in the fact you just didn’t have what it takes today.
- Perfection often weakens what it protects. It prevents you from growing. Learn from your failure and progress from your failure, and you will find value in imperfection.
- Start with action and the emotions will follow. When you act lovingly towards the people you care about, your affinity to those in your care will increase. Do something that permeates gratitude and you will feel more grateful. According to Stephen, when compared to thoughts, actions are more than twice as likely to change how we feel. “Action is the best starting point for more action.”
- Effort over perfection. Effort and action will drive progress. As Stephen puts it:
– care less about results more about putting in the work;
– care less about what about what other people think and more about who you want to be;
– care less about doing it right care more about doing it at all;
– care less failure and more about success;
– care less about time and care more about doing it at all
- Become apathetic about results. Imperfectionists ignore results. Imperfectionists focus more on the process; many times the final result is out of our control. You can’t control the result but you can control the process. Navy Seals are mentally specialized because they keep their mind on the process even in hell-on-earth situations.
- Understanding chance versus failure. Ruminators mistake chance as failure. Chance outcomes cannot be misconstrued as failure. Failure happens when you try to pursue a goal that is bigger than your current willpower or skill capacity. It’s a failure when it doesn’t work well in any circumstance.
- Say could instead of should. “Could” is open and shows possibility. “Should” creates a sense of obligation. I “could” learn French versus I “should” learn French. Self talk can be a strong precursor of how we feel.
- Four ways to get yourself out of a bad mood. (a) Focus on the process and not the result (b) Accept the past (c) Avoid negative self talk (d) Understand chance vs failure.
- Stay focused on one thing for a period of time and block out all distractions. An hour of hard, focused work is worth two hours of unfocused work.
- Implement “rebellion practice.” Overcome the need for others’ approval. Rebel against your typical way of living. Needing approval is a violation of your identity. Don’t seek approval from others or you will never have approval from yourself. After doing an embarrassing activity you feel extremely empowered because you demonstrate to the world around you that you are not controlled by it. Two examples are: (a) talk to a stranger, and (b) public pushups – although not a good idea during COVID!
- Eliminate Imposter Syndrome. This defines people who appear outwardly successful but feel like an imposter on the inside. The best way to deal with imposter syndrome is to internalize your successes. Write down a daily achievement list.
- Two Minute Rule. If it takes two minutes or less, do it without further deliberation. This will save you time in the long run.