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Overcoming Perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova / Unsplash

I don't consider myself a perfectionist, but I can be guilty of holding myself to unreasonable standards. This tendency can result in me setting myself up for failure, since I'll sometimes set goals that are unrealistic to achieve.

For example, it took almost a decade for me to start my blog, because I was so worried about each post being perfect before I published. I overcame this hurdle by setting a goal of publishing daily and embracing good enough. Similarly, I've been feeling overwhelmed about how little I know about AI. Rather than try and understand everything at once and feeling like an imposter because I don't, I decided to start by watching a short video on LangChain and going through the quickstart. I already feel like I know so much more!

I watched this video about overcoming perfectionism, and found these tips helpful:

  • Lower the bar: If you don't set your standards too high to begin with then it will be a lot easier to start. This also lowers the risk of burnout.
  • Replace "should" with "could choose to" or "want to": For example, rather than saying "I should go to the gym," say "I could choose to go to the gym," or "I want to go to the gym."
  • Reframe failure a success in learning: Rather than feeling like you failed at something, you can always reframe it as a success in gathering more data or "a bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul."
  • Do a fear-setting exercise: Here's Tim Ferris' template
  • Set NICE goals: Instead of setting SMART goals, set goals that are:
      • Near-term
      • Input-based
      • Controllable
      • Energizing