|It may take a few weeks. But it WILL be perfect!|
High standards may lead to long-lasting achievement. AND they can lead to anxiety so great we can't get projects done.
Or even start them.
It seems a fair number of spiritual-abuse veterans experience Paralyzing Perfectionism. Perfectionism so severe it cripples their life emotionally, in relationships, or career-wise. Sometimes we really up the ante by calling ourselves "procrastinators." Just to make sure we feel so bad we can't get out of bed.
"Lazy" people may not like work or care enough to do it. Paralyzed perfectionists care too much. Anything less than the "best" or "perfect" result just isn't bearable.
Our motto may as well be: If you can't be the best at something, just don't do it.
I always had high standards before getting involved with Transcendental Meditation in my late teens. They led to high grades and ambitions. For the first few years of my TM career, those high standards led me into higher levels of the Org. I threw all my energies into advancing enlightenment and world peace. Secure in the "knowledge" I was achieving the most for myself and the world. And I was doing the right thing.
But in my later TM daze and especially after leaving the Movement, I found it gradually harder to finish projects. There were always tweaks that needed doing. And one more. And then one more.... Which led to slipped deadlines. And eventually to deadstops.
I'll write more about Paralyzing Perfectionism soon. But I suspect readers here are no strangers to the phenomenon. So I'd like to offer an easy trick that curbed these tendencies. And let me get on with my life.
I keep three lists with me always: Things To Do Now, Things To Do Later, and Things That Can Wait 'Til Next Lifetime.
Now means everything I have to attend to that day. Later means anything to do from tomorrow through my Bucket List things I want to do before I kick the bucket.
Now I have articles to write, errands to run, a support group to facilitate, and a new Now list to create for tomorrow. Later I have more articles to write, counseling clients to see, projects to plan. Next Lifetime? Wow. The longest list of all.
An example. I've always struggled with my weight—in fact, a hundred pounds would look better anywhere than on my body.Naturally, I require a tad more organization than that. (David Allen's Getting Things Done is my system.) But these three lists are necessary prerequisites before I can even begin to prioritize.
I know contemporary society judges fatness harshly. I know it holds me back in the world. I know it's bad for my health. I know it causes my family worry. But I have a lot I want to accomplish before my final curtain call.
Losing weight? Just not a high priority. Given my limited time, energy, health, and resources. Maybe next time....
And I find them extremely freeing. Rather than frittering away limited time and attention span—as well as making Distraction and Confusion my new threesome—I always know what I need to focus on. More often than not, I do it.
There are so many things in my Next Lifetime list: playing piano, studying obscure physics, achieving financial comfort, projecting to the Astral Plane, trekking to Easter Island.
Oh, yeah. And attaining Enlightenment? That might as well be a thousand lifetimes down the pike!
If I have time to sneak in a few of my Next Lifetime goals this time around, hey, so much the better. But I ain't gonna sweat it.
Try this simple exercise.
- Set aside an hour with no distractions—soon.
- Whip out a sheet of paper and an erasable writing implement.
- Start sorting everything you want to achieve into these three lists.
- Optional: Enter them into a computer file where you can rearrange them to your heart's content.
Just don't let this list project become so elaborate, so perfect, and so tedious that it keeps you from getting your true priorities done!
Crossposted on TM-Free Blog and Facebook.