SMART Goal Setting for Perfectionists
Goal setting for perfectionists: I don't know when it happened or why it occurred, but somewhere along life's road I learned to not accept mediocrity in my work. After decades of holding my work to higher standards than what other people actually expect, I have realized that perfectionism has robbed me of enjoying my accomplishments. I have decided that I will no longer let perfectionist tendencies hold me hostage. Follow along and discover how to set SMART goals.
Setting goals and achieving goals when nothing less than perfect will do
Setting goals and taking the necessary steps to meet those goals can be quite a challenge for most people, but throw a dash of perfectionism into the mix, and the outcome will most likely either be a masterpiece or nothing at all!
I know of what I write, since I am afflicted by perfectionism. I really do not write that in jest or to belittle anyone with a serious documented disorder, but my perfectionistic tendencies have finally gotten the better of me. In the past I proudly set goals and exceeded my self-imposed goals regularly and up to my standards. But perfectionism-burnout and the stresses of life have taken a toll on not only my ability to meet goals, but to set goals in the first place.
Smart goal-setting for perfectionists
Setting goals does not have to be an all or nothing approach
As a writer for HubPages, I have become keenly aware of how paralyzing my tendencies towards perfectionism can be - especially when it comes to setting goals for writing and following-through with published Hubs. I envy those who are able to complete the "30 Hubs in 30 Days" challenge. However, I really don't know of any perfectionist, or at least any perfectionist with teenage-kids and a beagle puppy, that would touch that challenge with a ten-foot pole.
It's not that I cannot set the goal of completing a Hub a day for a month, rather it is knowing that I will not be able to produce thirty Hubs up to my standards within that time frame. I operate under the mantra "quality over quantity," and in many respects that is a good thing; but when the produced quantity per week hovers near zero, then perhaps it is time to give in a little on quality in favor of quantity.
I've come to realize that there is a vast range between "All" and "Nothing" and it is time I discovered that I can be productive and happy in that middle ground.
Don't get me wrong, my over-arching goal is to make money online with HubPages -- knowing that both Google and readers demand a certain level of quality that I refuse to sacrifice. But it's time for the perfectionist in me to loosen up a little and become more productive; it's time to learn to set goals that are both realistic and achievable.
Goal-setting for the perfectionist
Perfectionists really are their own worst enemy, tending to set goals that are both high and difficult to achieve. And while some people may think that perfectionism is a desirable trait, the perfectionist himself often is keenly aware that it can be an affliction if left to self-perpetuate. The Counseling Center at the University of Illinois concludes that,
"... perfectionistic attitudes actually interfere with success. The desire to be perfect can both rob you of a sense of personal satisfaction and cause you to fail to achieve as much as people who have more realistic strivings."
A perfectionist's goals often:
- Are set too high
- Are not met since the goal was unrealistic in the first place
- Lead to chronic failure and reduced productivity
- Result in lower self-esteem
How then can a perfectionist learn to set realistic goals, achieve them with a sense of self-satisfaction, and break the tiring cycle of perfectionism?
A .300 batting average is great! But it means that 70% of at-bats were NOT hits.
Set SMART goals
What is a SMART goal?
The University of Illinois Counseling Center recommends that all people learn to be healthy strivers, the opposite of a self-defeating perfectionist. One very significant difference between a healthy striver and a perfectionist, is that the healthy striver takes pleasure in the process of achieving goals and accomplishments, whereas the perfectionist focuses on the end result. Success is no longer solely tied to the outcome since there is joy in the journey.
5 Tips on setting goals for the perfectionist:
- Set goals that are realistic and therefore reachable.
- Set future goals one-step beyond previous goals. Take baby steps in goal-setting. When you achieve a goal, set the next goal a little bigger.
- Set an acceptable level of achievement less than 100%. Consider baseball hall-of-famer, Babe Ruth. His .342 all-time batting average means that almost 65% of his at-bats were not hits. The lesson: 100% success is not only not necessary to be considered one of the best, it is often not even humanly possible to achieve. Does that mean that 80% or 90% is a failure?
- Do not fall into the all-or-nothing goal setting trap. If you miss a goal, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. For example, if you set the goal to eat no more than two desserts a week on your diet, don't quit the diet just because you missed your goal and had three. Get back on track and move forward.
- Evaluate and learn. Be sure to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and learn from mistakes. Also, be sure to evaluate the entire process, not just the outcome. For instance, if you self-published eight articles for the month instead of your goal of ten, what else did the process bring. Did you meet new authors during that timeframe? Did you receive helpful feedback or unexpected recognition? Did you discover any new writing or publishing tools?
Don't dwell on missed goals!
The 3-Second rule:
Years ago when my son played Little League baseball, I would sometimes hear one of the other mothers yell out to her son, "three second rule." Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her what on earth was the 3-second rule. Gladly she explained how her son had three seconds to think about what went wrong, get his head back in the game, and be ready for the next play.
It occurs to me, that the concept of the "3-second rule" is pretty good advice as far as setting goals and expectations for ourselves goes too. Don't dwell on the errors; get back in the game and achieve.
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