Winning

Why It’s Good That You’re Not Perfect

Why Its Good That Youre Not Perfect

Photo by Monica Galentino on Unsplash

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” — Brené Brown

 

It’s practically a universal fact that almost everyone wants to get ahead. If I’m being honest, I must confess that I do. Even though I’m no longer striving to achieve a lofty career goal at a large corporation, I still have goals and want to succeed at them. It’s just that striving for recognition, money and advancement is no longer at the top of my wish list. I used to want that more than anything. Now I prefer to live a life of abundance: of spirit, joy, surrounded by loving family and friends, healthy, content and curious, willing to go out of my way to help others, to rejoice in the goodness of others.

I also know that I’m not perfect. The fact that I can readily admit that alleviates a certain amount of tension.

Trying too hard to be perfect never gets you anywhere. I learned that a long time ago. Granted, you make mistakes. Everyone does. Some of mine have been colossal blunders, while others were the result of being too hasty or careless or skipping some steps in pursuit of a goal. After beating myself up about it, I finally figured out that such hyper self-criticism was a waste of time. It made more sense to determine the lesson from the failure, if for no other reason than to not repeat it again. But perfectionism, trying to be perfect? According to experts, that’s an impossibility and a losing strategy.

On the other hand, striving to do better is an effective approach. With a worthwhile goal providing motivation, healthy striving can lead to a richer and more fulfilling life. I’ve found that to be true with goals large and small, some more immediate and others requiring considerable time and effort to achieve.

Suppose you’re not very good at math and want to become more proficient. Or you want to train yourself to be better at differentiating differences and spotting changes, as in identifying what’s different in a field of changing icons and images in a brain teaser game online. With diligent practice and the belief that you can improve your skill, you do indeed get better. That’s not trying to be perfect but striving to improve. The former is a hopeless pursuit, the latter laudable and likely to succeed.

In an average day, most of us experience a few disappointments, make the wrong turn, put the wrong ingredient in a recipe, rush through a quiz and make a few mistakes, forget what we were going to say, say the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time. These are examples of what we’d consider a failure, blunder, mistake or stupid move. With the mindset that always demands perfectionism, we’re likely to continue to spiral down, never quite making the mark and sinking deeper into a less hopeful and more negative state of mind.

In contrast, by taking mistakes, disappointments and failures in stride and striving to do better, we’re bolstering our resilience, maintaining good balance and promoting a healthy way of living. Sure, it may take practice to overcome a tendency to get things right every time, as well as learning to ignore the comments from others about “Better luck next time.” This is especially true if perfectionism has become ingrained and those who know you expect you to be perfect all the time.

Having witnessed a few friends and acquaintances who’ve succumbed to the tantalizing and wrong siren song of perfectionism – and coming close myself on one or two occasions – I know that the preferred and much more effective and satisfying way to live is to engage in healthy pursuit of achievable goals.

If you tend to believe the same way I do, you’re not perfect – hooray! Neither am I, thankfully. Life is so much more enjoyable this way and that’s why it’s good that you’re not perfect. Keep in mind, though, that just because you’ve let go of pursuit of perfectionism does not mean you relinquish your goals. Adding incrementally to your strengths, skills and accomplishments boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem and intensifies your sense of purpose in life.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

10 Tips on Reaching Your Life Goals

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

“Having an aim is the key to achieving your best.” – Henry J. Kaiser

 

It’s normal to wonder what you want to accomplish with your life. Sometimes such thoughts occur only intermittently, typically at milestone events such as high school graduation, entering college, getting a first job, meeting someone who becomes a romantic interest. Other times, though, you might dismiss any focus on future goals due to a more immediate concentration on what’s happening now. Still, life goals are important, for nothing worthwhile can be achieved without having a plan and working to succeed. These 10 tips on reaching your life goals may be helpful to do just that.

View goals as growth and aim high.

Having a goal is part of the growth process in becoming an adult. What’s often underappreciated, however, is what it takes to achieve those goals. It is more than merely thinking of the goal, working on it and then succeeding. One point that’s both straightforward and can make the achievement of even the loftiest goal a bit less formidable is to aim high. There can be immense satisfaction in knowing that the process of goal attainment helps you grow. Another crucial aspect of successfully achieving important life goals is to put into place specific plans to help you realize the goals.

Include stretch goals.

Why is aiming high recommended? For one thing, it always helps to have stretch goals. Like it sounds, a stretch goal is one that you know is beyond your current reach, yet it is highly desirable. A stretch goal will require you to put in a great deal of thought, time and effort to be successful. It’s not something easily attainable or a goal that you can do with barely any thought or effort. While some successes you have are accomplishments, most aren’t all that memorable. Stretch goals involve challenges, going beyond your comfort zone, entertaining the possibility that you may be in a little over your head – for now. On the other hand, when organizations set stretch goals for employees, it may serve to undermine organizational performance.

Always have several goals.

In line with regarding goals as growth is the recommendation to always maintain a list of several goals. These can consist of starter goals, which can be goals you’re just investigating or want to try to see if they hold your interest, intermediate goals, such as a stepped approach to landing a coveted career, or long-term goals that may include where you want to one day retire, how many children to have, whether a one-on-one relationship is what you want. The reason to have several goals is so that you always have something to work toward that you consider valuable and worthwhile. The more a goal interests you, even if it’s considerably far off, the more motivated you’ll be to put in the time and effort required to see it through.

Give careful consideration to goals when planning.

To be truly memorable, and worthy of intense concentration and effort, your goal should cause you to think long and hard about how to approach it, when, where and how to revise or adapt it to changing circumstances, and what to take away from it one you either succeed, stumble, or discard it. For there is always a lesson or two to learn. Those who are most successful in achieving their stretch goals are the ones who’ve taken the time to master the lessons they learned during mistakes.

Stagger goals.

When putting your goals into a list, make sure to include a rough timetable for completion. It’s also wise to space out more complex, difficult or time-consuming goals so that you’re not trying to work on more than one of these at once. That’s scattering your focus and depleting your physical, emotional and psychological resources. Besides, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Sure, you can chip away at some of the easier goals to get some successes to your credit, while still putting in appropriate time, effort and attention before or after the no-brainer goals working on your high-value goals.

Be realistic, yet adventurous in goal-setting.

Does aiming high include taking risks? You bet. When a goal is stimulating, gets you excited and eager to begin, it’s also likely to contain an element of risk. You might not achieve it, at least not at first try. On the other hand, the journey toward life goal completion is an adventure, as it should be. Do be realistic about the goals you set, while still seeing yourself successful in some seemingly unattainable goals you’d like to master. Besides, research shows that goals that retain your interest can both improve your work and help reduce burnout.

Take note of past goal successes.

No matter what your goal, you’ve likely had some experience already in something similar. If not in totality, at least directionally, by aspiration, training, skill or talent. Such successes are the reservoir you can draw from for inspiration, motivation, and lessons learned. They can and will serve you well in any goal you want to pursue in life. You succeeded because you had a plan, persevered despite obstacles, found the lesson in mistakes, and were flexible enough to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

Be flexible in goal implementation and be sure to monitor progress.

Recognizing that you might not fully realize a goal the first time you attempt it, keep in mind that flexibility in how you proceed with goals is crucial to ultimate success. What appears to be a rock solid plan may turn out to be less than ideal. Revision is not only advisable, but necessary. If you’re locked in and refuse to adapt and adjust, you will not only increase your frustration and stress, but you’re also much more likely to abandon the goal altogether. It’s also good strategy to monitor your progress toward goal achievement, as such regular check-ups increase both motivation and likelihood of success.

Allow room for error.

You can’t know everything, nor can you anticipate every possible circumstance before working on your goals. Succeeding in important life goals involves acknowledging, allowing and even accepting that you’ll make errors, mistakes, fall short on some aspects, perhaps undershoot the mark. Seniors with cognitive impairment may find themselves making more errors and mistakes than they did when younger, yet they’re still able to work toward life goals and gain a measure of fulfillment from both the pursuit and completion of goals they deem worthwhile. Practice patience, both if you are older and have trouble with concentration, focus and follow-through, or if you are the adult child, sibling, co-worker, friend or neighbor of someone who’s having a tough time succeeding with their goals.

Recognize some goals may feel uncomfortable – and that’s good.

Perhaps the best advice on reaching your life goals is to go for goals that are a little disconcerting. That is, they give you a twinge of uncertainty, even feel a bit uncomfortable. Why is that good? You want to strive to achieve goals that are yet beyond your reach. If they’re too easy, or too quickly achieved, you may not gain as much satisfaction, wisdom or advancement from their completion. That’s not to say that quickly-accomplished goals shouldn’t be on your list, just that the ones you really need to work for may be more meaningful to your life goals.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related posts:

Success May Be Elusive, But It’s Possible

Success Means You Make Things Happen

How to Keep Frustration From Blocking Your Goals

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Success May Be Elusive, But It’s Possible

Photo by Dave Meier on Picography

Photo by Dave Meier on Picography

“Failure is inevitable. Success is elusive.” – Steven Spielberg

 

If failure seems like the worst thing that can happen, take heart. Everyone experiences it at one point or another. Most people try to learn from their mistakes, preferring to regard an outcome that is less than successful as a learning experience rather than an outright failure. The truth is that it may take repeated attempts before success is achieved, so adopting a positive attitude and sticking with the plan is a much better approach than simply giving up.

If success is what you’re after, yet you keep stumbling and feel like you never quite get there, there are some approaches you can take to ultimately achieve the outcome you desire. Keep these steps in mind:

Analyze.

If it doesn’t work out the first time, or the approach you used was less than effective, do a careful analysis of what you did to determine when, where and why it didn’t prove successful. The only way you’re going to get past a failure and achieve success is to recognize patterns, so you can learn from your mistakes.

Use this as a learning experience.

While it may seem difficult, make a conscious effort to look at mistakes and failures as a learning experience, part of the growth process you need to go through on your way to success. If you continue to regard failure as your lot in life, you’ll never find the success you seek. This is a law of self-fulfilling prophecy. You need to envision success to achieve it.

Cultivate flexibility.

Be flexible and willing to revise your plans, modify your goals and adopt and implement the latest and most current information as it becomes available.

Seek support.

Seek the advice and support of loved ones and friends. If you have people in your network you trust, talk with them about your goals and your efforts to achieve them. Sometimes all it takes to get you past a stumbling block is the reassurance from those who care about you that you can do it. Other times, you’ll receive suggestions and tips that may prove helpful. In any case, you’re not in this alone. You have allies. Make use of them.

Remain diligent.

Another cardinal characteristic of successful people is diligence. Be diligent and never give up. Success may take longer than you think. For this reason, you need to be diligent in your efforts and determined to keep going no matter what obstacles you encounter. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady ultimately wins the race.

Replenish your goals list.

Always have new goals to strive for. The way to keep your optimism high and give you renewed motivation is to maintain a constantly evolving list of things you want to accomplish. Add new goals as you think of them or as opportunities present themselves. Keep in mind that not every opportunity is clear. You may need to scrutinize it to find the gem hidden within. An added benefit of replenishing your goals list is that it boosts enthusiasm for goals you’re currently working on.

Stay positive.

Saving the best for last, above all, stay positive. If you envision a successful outcome, you’re already making progress toward that eventuality. Plus, a positive attitude can help you weather interim roadblocks, overcome disappointments, and give you the breathing room to be able to discern potential solutions when you’re locked up.

 

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Related Posts:

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Success Means You Make Things Happen

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You Won or Lost: Here’s How to Get Over It and Move On

Photo by Amanda Sandlin on Unsplash

Photo by Amanda Sandlin on Unsplash

 

“Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move on. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still.” – Chuck Knox

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being stuck. When something goes wrong – meaning, I’ve made a mistake – it’s a personal setback, to be sure. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than necessary.

Similarly, once I’ve attained a goal I’ve worked hard for, I’m naturally going to indulge myself for a bit and feel good about what I accomplished. The tougher the goal, the more satisfying it feels to be on the other side of all the challenging work. Still, I’m not going to sit still for too long congratulating myself. Besides being selfish, as well as unhealthy, it doesn’t do much to motivate me. It also tends to tick off those around me.

Frankly, no one wants to be in the presence of a gloater or a sulker. While this applies universally, it’s also true that each of us has been there at one time or another. We’ve each stewed just a little too long in our misery or bragged more than appropriate about our wins.

Just get over it. It’s time to move on.

Easy enough to say, right? How do you get over yourself and move on after a glorious victory or an unexpected (or expected) loss or mistake? Here are some of my favorite tips that may help:

Keep a handy list of upcoming projects.

Something I’ve found effective is having a list handy of next projects I want to tackle. Of course, the list must contain things that are necessary as well as ones that are aspirational. A good mix is always recommended for upcoming projects. This serves to motivate, excite, remind and compel. Everyone needs some of each to get over whatever might contribute to being stuck in the moment and move on.

Check your list.

That’s right, keeping a list, something you can refer to gives you direction, something to do to get past your funk or over your self-congratulatory state. Pick something, anything, and get busy. When you’re active, you’re less likely to continue gloating or sulking.

Involve yourself in drudge work.

This may sound counter-intuitive. After all, how can doing something boring or distasteful help you get over it? Pulling weeds in the garden is therapeutic, for example, and it also allows your mind to think beyond wins and losses. This happens to be one of my most effective and enjoyable ways to get past being stuck. Fixing a plugged toilet may not be high on your list of aspirations either, but it needs fixing, and if you can do it, you’ll be putting your skills and your energies to work and not ruminating over whatever you were stuck on. Just to clarify, I don’t fix toilets. It’s not one of my core strengths. That’s someone else’s specialty. I stick to what I know I’m good at – or have a reasonable expectation of a favorable outcome. On the other hand, if no one was around and the toilet was overflowing, I’d get busy quick with a mop and a bucket – and speed dial the plumber.

Exercise.

There’s nothing like the exhilaration after a hard workout to erase any residual feelings of gloating or sulking. Besides being good for your physical health, exercise is an excellent healer and stimulator for mental health. It isn’t necessary to have an expensive gym membership to exercise. Walking outdoors qualifies, as does swimming, biking, any number of activities that require physical effort.

Engage in problem-solving.

Surely there’s some problem that requires a solution. Maybe you’re just the one to come up with it. You should think this way to give yourself a much-needed kick to the backside. Put your creative abilities to work and figure out some solutions that may prove workable. When you’re actively thinking how to fix a problem, you’re not stuck. You’re being proactive, resourceful and creative.

Help others.

Your neighbor could possibly use your assistance cleaning out the gutters or raking leaves from the yard. Lend a hand to a co-worker who’s behind on a project that the team desperately needs completed. See what you can do to ease the burden of a family member overwhelmed with chores. When you’re helping others, there’s work to be done and little time to stew or chortle over other things.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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Success Means You Make Things Happen

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Success Means You Make Things Happen

Photo by Joshua Sortino-Unsplash

Photo by Joshua Sortino-Unsplash

“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.” – Jim Lovell

 

Are you a doer, a watcher or a wonderer? The answer may lie at the heart of whether or not you find yourself successful in life.

Granted, sometimes you need to watch for a while to become motivated to take action. After all, what interests you may involve stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a few risks. Well, nothing worthwhile ever occurred without a little discomfort. For one thing, it’s anxiety-provoking to think about taking on a challenge, something you’ve never done before. Maybe you should watch and wait for a while.

But not too long. If you wait until the proverbial time is right, you may still be waiting months and years down the line. At that point, instead of being successful, you’ll be one of those people who scratch their heads in dismay and wonder what happened.

Making things happen sounds too easy. It isn’t. Often, it involves long periods of practice, building skills and acquiring knowledge. It generally takes longer than you anticipate and requires more work than you intended.

But success is worth it if the goal is one that you truly desire.

Are You Ready to Make Things Happen?

Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re ready to make things happen.

  • Is this (goal) something I really want?
  • How much effort am I willing to put into achieving it?
  • What will I do if distractions get in my way?
  • Do I have a plan to follow, or am I just going to wing it?
  • What about resources? Do I need to line them up or are they readily available to me?
  • How will I handle criticism, failure and rejection? Am I strong enough to get past this?
  • Am I willing to learn from my mistakes?
  • What about revising my plan along the way? Have I incorporated that into my strategy?
  • Have I factored measurement into my plan so that I know when it’s a success?

The Caveman Scenario

I’d like to illustrate this with the following scenario. Early caveman enjoyed sitting around the fire with his companions, partner and offspring. Telling tales of hunting exploits got everyone going and lasted well into the night. But some of the little ones fell asleep, missing out on the stories.

The caveman started etching shapes into the earth with a stick, but the images were quickly obliterated as everyone dispersed. This same stick, used to poke and prod the fire, was blackened at the tip. The caveman pondered the sooty blackness on his fingers and noted it was tough to remove. He looked up at the empty cave wall and thought about scratching his pictures there.

First, it was just a rudimentary sketch. Then, the images grew in size, complexity and number. Before long, they told a complete story. Now, not only the little ones, but everyone in the caveman’s group, could enjoy the tale. He was designated as the official keeper of the tales and his stature grew in the community.

Was this a success? Did the caveman make things happen? From a desire to share his tales with his children, he figured out a way to do that and made it happen. It was an absolute success.

If the caveman could do it, just imagine what you can do.

10 Ways to Win When You Lose

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Losing sucks, it’s true. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t speaking honestly – or else they’re engaging in self-delusion. No one likes to lose, whether it’s at a competition in sports, at work, in school or among friends. Failing to get the promotion you’ve worked hard for also hurts. But is there a way to turn losing around, to actually win again?

Here are 10 ways to help you learn how to win when you lose:

 

1. It’s not losing if you learn something.

 

If everybody loses at one time or another, the key is to profit from the experience. If all you do is grouse over your bad luck or just the wrong timing, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Figure out what went wrong and learn from it. As long as you come away with a better understanding of what caused this failure, you’re one step ahead when it comes to doing it better the next time. Already you’ve turned a loss into the first part of a win.

 

2. Losing can spur you to renew your commitment.

 

How much do you want to succeed at the action or endeavor you just failed at? With the right mindset – really wanting the successful outcome – you can rededicate yourself and renew your commitment to the goal. This is part of what it takes to develop a winning strategy and reinforce a winning mentality.

 

3. After you lose, call on your strengths.

 

Losing isn’t pleasant in the best of times. In the worst of times, losing can seem like the world is against you. Don’t fall prey to that self-defeating line of thinking. Instead, list your strengths and begin to make use of them. Some, no doubt, are strengths you haven’t used for a long time, maybe never. This is the time to call on your strengths, for they will help you reinvigorate your willingness to keep going, to challenge yourself to win again.

 

4. Remember you never give up.

 

This isn’t the first time you’ve been on the losing end of a situation. Even if this is your first recorded loss, the point is that you know it’s not in you to give up. Those little hurdles you put forth such effort to overcome and kept on going despite how tough it was? Those were little losses, but you remained steadfast and refused to give up. You will win again with this can-do attitude. Keep at it and you’ll be there at the finish line before you know it.

 

5. Competition makes you sharp.

 

If everyone had the same amount of talent and ability, the world would be a boring place. Thankfully, there’s competition. When you see what others do, especially when you’re engaged competitively in the same endeavor or pursuit, this tends to sharpen your skills, amplify your determination and motivation, and keeps you engaged. Do you want to succeed? Are you in it to win? Pay attention to your competition, even the competition you instill in yourself, and you’ll soon win again.

 

6. Once you’ve lost, you have greater compassion – because you know how it feels.

 

No one likes an arrogant winner. It takes humility – losing – to realize how it feels not to succeed. Since you have lost, you now know how the other person feels. This helps make you a better person, one with compassion and empathy. When you’re once again in the winner’s circle, this compassion will help keep your inflated ego at bay.

 

7. Look at the broader picture to gain perspective.

 

It may be tough to see much past the recent loss. Yet that’s exactly what you need to do after you lose. You’re never going to be motivated to continue if you can’t gain some perspective, to see the broader picture. Your world isn’t a narrow confine or a box you can’t get out of. It’s wide open and waiting for you to discover. This should be enough to inspire and motivate you to keep going, to recognize that this most recent loss is but one step along the path to success.

 

8. Realize that you’re already invested.

 

You’ve already put a great deal of effort into what just didn’t work out so well. In this, you’re already invested. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to profit from the effort you’ve already put forth and find new ways of approaching the task, project, pursuit or endeavor. Refresh your memory with what worked well before and modify or adapt those strategies and techniques to the task at hand.

 

9. Sharing experiences with your network can help you gain new insights.

 

Maybe what you need is a different set of eyes and ears. By sharing your experience – the recent loss – with your network, you might learn a few things that can help you get back to winning. Often it’s just this type of interpersonal communication, talking over what happened and listening to suggestions and techniques that worked for others is enough to get you back on track to winning again. That loss also won’t feel as painful when you listen to how others came back from losing.

 

10.Be sure to hold on to your dreams.

 

In the darkest times, what keeps us going are our dreams. Those long-held and dearly prized dreams are nature’s way of pushing us to keep going, especially when things look the least favorable. Maybe your dream takes a little longer to achieve or realize, but as long as you hold fast to it and take the small steps toward achieving it, you’re making progress. This is a sign that you’re a winner, even though you may have lost a thousand times before and likely will again. Hold fast to that dream and you will achieve it.

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