Is anyone else's perfectionism holding their blog back bigtime? Please help.
I've been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember. This DOES NOT mean that I produce perfect work. It means that I DESIRE to produce perfect work, and that desire leads to anxiety and procrastination.
I've always loved to write, but the problem about writing is that I care about it way too much. The more I care about something, the more of a perfectionist I am about it, the more I'm anxious about it, and the longer I put it off for another day.
Throughout all of school I would put off writing papers until midnight the night before and then pull all nighters desparately trying cram a whole paper into the last few hours I had left to work with. Give me a couple pages of math homework to do? I'd have that done within hours because I didn't care much about it.
My procrastination was never a big enough problem in school for me to be forced to fix it. Yeah, sure it was EXTREMELY unhealthy for me. But I still always got A's on everything I procrastinated on, so I kept on procrastinating.
Now that I'm starting a blog, my procrastination has turned into a huge problem that I'll have to overcome if I want to be successful. Yall all know that there's no REAL deadlines to meet as a blogger. There's no one to hold me accountable but me. There're no "straight A's" for me to maintain. I hate to admit it, but I'm the type of person who strives with outside pressure. I'm really good at not letting other people down, but I'm really bad at not letting myself down.
Trying to play off of that insight, I tried to create some outside pressure for myself. I emailed a bunch of people about information that in going to use for a blog post. I thought that having those people waiting for me to finish the post and link back to them would be enough for me to want to get the post finished. All it did was make me even more anxious about that particular post. It's been a week, and I've gotten 7 responses, none of which I've even replied to.
So basically it's the same old sad story that countless of other bloggers have probably told. I'm either gonna suck it up and move past this, or give up and move on (aka fail at blogging).
Have any of you had this same problem with perfectionism and blogging, but gotten past it? Please share your stories, the more elaborately detailed the better.
My hope is that this could help me and other bloggers in this situation have inspiration to overcome perfectionism. Please share anything and everything you think could help
I have a bunch of insights about this I'm not sure if any will help.
• I find procrastination is often fear-based. I think you said it yourself in your post you fear letting other people down. And you recognized it to the point where you tried to replicate that fear as a motivator for yourself. I think that's the wrong tactic. Rather than trying to replicate the fear you've used your whole life maybe try to ask yourself why you're afraid to begin with and try to eliminate the fear.
• This fear is something we all deal with. IDK if it's human nature… Or the fact that our education system preaches that we have to learn something for a YEAR and then get an A on it or we're a failure. That's a bad habit right there if I've ever seen one. We should be preaching that you to get a C as quickly as possible haha.
• You're overwhelming yourself. It's very easy to think of blogging as this HUGE thing. You can spend all day every day on it if you want it to and it may still take a long time to see what you want from it. Don't spend so much time on the big picture. Break everything down into small manageable chunks. If you have an hour, prioritize what the most important thing is that you can squeeze in in an hour, do it, move on with your life.
• Tell yourself you're writing a rough draft and not the final copy. Sit down, write in notepad++ or something comparable where it's just you and text and you don't have to worry about pictures or formatting. Just write as much as you can until you feel like you've gotten all your thoughts out on the subject. Then later go back and try to perfect it vs having it be perfect from the beginning. If you try to make it great in the 1st draft you'll fail and it'll hold you back.
• Thanks for your response. Like you said, my procrastination is 100 percent fear based. Thanks for pointing out that my so called "solution" was fear based as well, I hadn't made that connection yet. I need to be more conscious about what my "solutions" actually are, and I need do try to stay away from bandaid solutions and head towards more permanent progress.
Yesterday after I posted this, I got idea that maybe I should start going to counseling for my perfectionism. It's the kind of thing that I'm able to convince myself that I'm fine and this isn't a big deal because I'm still very "capable and successful" (by other people's standards, not by my own) and so my conclusion after all that is that I don't NEED therapy. And maybe I don't need it as much as some people, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't greatly benefit from it. Sure, I could figure this out myself, but let's face it, that's probably a lot harder than being guided through it by a counselor.
Looking back, perfectionism is the root of most, if not all of my problems in life. I definitely need to figure out where the fear that fuels my perfectionism is coming from, and then I need to try to overcome it.
One of my problems is that it seems like the only things I've ever successfully completed in life were the things that I'm being driven to finish out of fear. This question is for you or any other redditor wh may see this: what are things besides fear that can motivate me, and how can I use them?
2. I also LOVED the point you made in #2. The American school system (and probably most of all the other school systems in the world) creates SO MANY bad habits that stick with people throughout the rest of their lives. I think part of it has to do with what you said about teaching people that A's mean success. If you measure success by the wrong metric, it encourages the wrong practices to form in order to meet that faulty metric.
My state placed a huge emphasis on state test scores, and they rewarded schools more money based on their scores. As a result, my school really taught me how to take a test. And I DO know how to take a test, VERY WELL. I'm halfway through college, and so far I've been able to pass all of my tests with A's with very minimal studying. For most classes all I have to do is pay attention in class (I rarely take notes but I DO have to really concentrate on listening) and then take the test. I attribute that ability mostly to having great test taking skills.
The problem with that is that test taking skills only make someone successful in school. I have little to no skills or experience in doing what I really want to do in life, building something that brings value to the world. However, I do think that school has given me the skills to be very successful if I choose to take the whole "build a career" path. So maybe the current school system helps prepare people for careers (which is what they claim to do(. I would LOVE to start a school that helps prepare people to be self starters that make a real difference in the world, though.
3. I absolutely focus on the big picture too much. I realized this last night in another comment as well. I need to really break the process down into tiny manageable pieces. Lol if I'm able to successfully do that, I'll probably make a website all about it and let the world know the process. My solution for right now is to use a method inspired by the concept of Kaizen. My goal is to open the Google doc of a blog post every single day. I'm not going to pressure myself to have to write in the doc every single day, because sadly I'm not ready for that yet. I think that without the pressure to write every day, I'll probably choose to write a little in the doc each day because I feel comfortable enough to make that decision. The goal of this is just to start making me feel comfortable facing my fear of writing.
4. You're absolutely right about the rough draft part, but my problem right now is avoiding thinking about the post all together. Even opening my laptop makes me anxious because I don't want to write. But normally, once I start writing something it is really easy for me to finish it in one sitting. For me, it's mostly a matter of starting.
Thanks again for your response. It was super helpful.
I think therapy is great! But be careful, some places are just anxiety medication machines and I'm probably not qualified to have an opinion on this but I think we WAAAAY overprescribe. I also think fit between you and your therapist is super important. And I really don't see it like a normal doctors visit where you come in with a problem like "perfectionism" and they fix it for you. I think it has a lot more to do with how open you're willing to be about everything and how much you're emotionally capable of looking at or changing.
More school system bashing.
My problem with the school system is we really do preach "perfect" on HUGE time-scales. We also preach I give you a step by step list of things to do and you do it exactly like I told you to. In school that's what success is.
With business. The goals are always "minimally viable" and "As fast as possible". Plus Creativity is a MUST. If you're following a step by step set of instructions in business it means you're not the first person to do it. Which means you have TONS of competition. Which is a really bad sign.
As far as how to motivate yourself beyond fear and feeling pressure.
a) You're motivated already. I don't believe you're faking actually wanting to do this. It's just harder to actually implement in practice than you thought it would be right?
We've all been there. The first project beyond school or work that I actually took on I spent an entire year seriously trying to build… And at the end of the year, I produced almost nothing due to me just not being good at actually getting things done yet. Efficiency is a skill you have to build. It's not laziness, lack of ambition or some type of personality disorder. it's something you're trying to do for the first time and it turns out you're not very good at it yet. That's normal.
b)Write every day
I'm not going to pressure myself to have to write in the doc every single day, because sadly I'm not ready for that yet.
I want you to sit down and write for a set period of time per day, nothing crazy, find 20 minutes. And rather than try to produce anything meaningful I want you to go out of your way to produce literal garbage for those 20 minutes. Success will be measured by whether you actually produced garbage during the 20 minutes vs nothing.
I think you'll be surprised with what happens to your feelings of procrastination when you remove the expectations by literally going out of your way to create garbage. It should begin to highlight that the only person preventing you from doing what you want right now is you.
Yeah I would definitely want to stay away from anyone who wants to put me on medication for this. I'm not saying that medication is never the answer, I honestly have no idea, but I'm pretty sure in my case this has to do with deep rooted emotional/mindset issues that I need to get to the bottom of and overcome. Treat the cause, not the symptoms.
Your school system bashing was spot on as usual.
Thanks for your insights about my motivation. I've considered myself "lazy" for years, and it was until recently that I've realized that me not acting from my goals is coming from my perfectionism rather than pure laziness.
I love what you said about this being a skill I have to build. You're absolutely right. And your recommendation about writing 20 minutes of garbage everyday – pure genius. THAT is something I feel like I can do.
This speaks to me. I've been sitting on my blog page for almost a month. It hasn't been "perfect" for me to release it and add into it. I've actually showed it to a few people who said it looks great. That surprised me. That's when I knew that my inner critic is harder on me than others are. With that being said I'm going to release my blog next Monday :)
Sorry for deleting both of my posts, I'm new to Reddit and I thought it would let me just delete and revise it. My response was that I'm so glad you're going to release it, but why not release it today?
Haha good question! I'm still making edits to it fml 😫. It's pretty much done though I could release it today. Thanks for posting this I needed this. I hope you find some inspiration to keep pushing. I almost backed out from doing all this too but that it's coming to it's fruition I feel at ease.
Take a look friend mindbodyjourney.org
I read it, and it was great! Your blog posts will only get better and better from there. Focus on having a growth oriented mindset rather than a result oriented mindset. For your next post, tell yourself that it only has to be 1 percent better than your last post, and maybe that will help you stop obsessively editing.
Then, after you write 100 posts, your 100th post will be 100 percent better than your 1st post! Growth is a process that does best in small but consistent steps rather than sporadic spurts.
Also maybe try looking into Pareto's law. Basically it is the idea that 20 percent of work gets 80 percent of the outcome. So in your situation, 20 percent of the work was writing the article, and then you spent a long time on editing, which probably only made your post 20 percent better at most. Just something to think about.
Thank you for reading it and for your insight! It really helps me because I was stuck on editing after a while just changing words. This thread is kinna ironic as I was just thinking yesterday that I could've spent all this time writing other post rather than being fixated on one.
I appreciate you for helping me realize that this all a learning experience. Cheers. Feel free to share your page where you're done with it!
When not if cause I can feel you will :).
This actually inspired me to just release it today. Idk what I'm waiting for. Thank you so much!
I'm so glad, I can't wait to read it! Also, I'll be sure to let you know when I finish it. I'm now super inspired to start it.
Yes! That's the spirit. Please share when it's ready :) glad we both inspired each other. Just published by third article:) thanks again for the push! I hope yours is going well.
I've been doing a lot of growing since we last talked! Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress on my blog during that time, but I have been doing some introspection and getting to know myself better. I've made some breakthrough realizations about myself, in part thanks to advice from this very thread. In other words, I've been working on my MENTAL HEALTH ;) and I think I'm almost ready to write.
Btw, in case you didn't get my reference I looked at your new posts. Keep up the good work! It's really inspiring to see you making progress
Ah that is awesome! I'm really happy you've been doing some internal work. That's where it all begins ;) Youll be ready when you're ready & your content will be that much more better. I've taken your advice and instead of being stuck on perfecting an article I'm working on getting better as I go along :). It's all part of the process. So thankful for this post for teaching me that. 🙏🏼
& Thanks for reading Molly 😀
This describes me perfectly and I am also sitting on a blog page and a long list of post ideas, but have a hard time sitting down and just going for it.
I am seeking more outside accountability so if you are interested in an accountability partner of sorts, let me know. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and help setting measurable/reasonable goals to report back on would be great.
Yeah I'd definitely be interested in trying out being your accountability partner.
I discussed with someone in an earlier thread that because my perfectionism/procrastination stems from my fear of failure, I shouldn't try to make solutions to my perfectionism/procrastination that involve utilizing my fear of failure and I should instead work on identifying the source of my fear and overcoming it.
What I'm saying is that I wouldn't want this partnership to become me stressing out to finish something so that I can tell you I did it or vice versa. However, I'd be very interested in having people to grow with in blogging and in the battle against perfectionism/procrastination. If that's something you're interested in, dm me!
My first thought is that it's interesting that you equate perfectionism with procrastination, based on your example about writing papers the night before. I would imagine a perfectionist would work on something for a long time because they want it to be perfect. I think what your struggling with are feelings of inadequacy not necessarily a desire for perfectionism.
That said, I literally related to every single thing you said. It's like you were describing my own life experiences. Procrastination was huge for me too, and I did the exact same thing in school where I'd never really have to try and still got A's. The real world is NOT like that.
My response to you is if it is truly an issue of fear, then come to the understanding that fear is the enemy of progress. Just do it. At least your making progress.
If it is inadequacy, I would love for you to consider this quote by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: ' If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late. '. Apply that same principle to your writing. It's better to have it done, rather than be late to the game (especially if you end up seeing other people succeed in your niche and think "I'm just as good/better than them"). The only difference in that scenario would be that they acted and it paid off while you stayed put because you didn't believe in yourself. That feeling sucks.
But the best part will be when you look back and see the progress you've made. Even with the LinkedIn example above, I doubt they spend their days being embarrassed about it. My guess is they probably just marvel at how far they've come. As you write, you'll grow and experience the same.
So go for it!
"Perfectionism" has held me back literally years for projects I've really wanted to pursue. And I can say for sure that it's been fear-based for me. I used to be perfectly okay with doing things in an iterative way, improving as I go. But somewhere along the line, I adopted this weird and highly annoying tendency to want everything to be "perfect and correctly done" the first time. No mistakes allowed! In some cases, impostor syndrome has crept in, adding even more fuel to the fire.
I've realized that for me, like many I'm sure, editing and re-editing and re-re-editing a post has become a security blanket. You get to feel like you're being productive without risking the failure of publishing the post and having it fall on its face. It's an obvious and awful self-con, but man is it compelling in the moment.
Unironically, I do blame the "day job". I work as an artist in a field where designs have to be set up and production ready in a short time-span (1 business day max for art turn-around, no matter how busy we are), and re-dos and changes only drag it out and make it harder to stay on top of new orders. In that setting, getting it right the first time as often as possible is optimal, probably even mandatory.
I think that tendency has bled over into my personal hobbies, and it's annoying as heck. Once upon a time I could spend a month on a single art project and be fine with it. Now, if I don't feel like I've made sufficient progress on a similar project, I scrap it and start over next time.
This goes for my new endeavor, blogging. I'm working at it, though; slowly but steadily learning to get out of my own way and move forward. Just have to keep telling that negative voice in my head to shut up. It's a persistent bugger.
Many of the replies to this thread have been incredibly insightful and helpful to that end. So I thank everyone who has contributed and added their own experiences and insights here.
Oh hello. I know this post is a couple days old but I felt compelled to comment because you are me.
It sounds like you're someone who thrives on deadlines and crisis atmospheres to get work done. You probably live for challenges and love doing the impossible.
There's nothing wrong with you, by the way.
Your mistake is taking advice from people who like structure, planning, and predictability. Instead, you should think about introducing experimentation, competition, and challenge into your work.
• Instead of telling yourself you need a set editorial calendar, plan your posting schedule by A/B testing what kind of content lowers your bounce rate across key demographics
• Do a competitive analysis to figure out top posts within your blog niche — and challenge yourself to write better posts on similar topics
You can see where I'm going here: you'll probably get bored if you think of the blog as repetitive and structured, but if you find ways to engage your natural tendencies you'll be able to get shit done.
There are two books I'd recommend that you read:
• The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, which outlines a taxonomy explaining how people respond to external and internal expectations
• The Conative Connection by Kathy Kolbe, which will help you understand your innate approach to action.
I finished The Four Tendencies the same night you commented this, and it REALLY changed my perspective on things. I'm 100 percent an Obliger, the kind who leans more towards the Rebel end of the spectrum, and I probably need to just accept that and create environments that set me up for success as an Obliger.
I'm halfway through The Conative Connection now, and there's a lot of great concepts in it. For example, I think just the idea of conation itself could help me. However, the tendencies in this book are less clear cut than the tendencies in the other book, largely due to the fact that everyone has a mixture of all the tendencies. I am having a bit more trouble identifying my own and finding strategies in the book to guide my success. I believe I'm primarily a self starter, and that I'm preventative in follow through.
I did love your ideas to help bring experimentation, competition, and challenge into my work. I thrive in competitive atmospheres that provide me to one up those around me. I've always said that I tend to work as hard as it takes to perform better than anyone around me, but I refuse to work any harder than that. This tendency of mine has always frustrated me because I recognized that a person can only grow so much by working just hard enough to beat her peers. Eventually, my growth would plateau, and it always did, but as an Obliger I was never motivated to work any harder despite the fact that I desperately wanted to.
Coming at this from the perspective offered by both books you recommended, I've been holding myself back by labeling all these tendencies as weaknesses and spending the majority of my life fighting them. Yeah, it kind of sucks that I'm incapable of meeting my own expectations, but I can meet others' expectations extremely well (except when I'm experiencing Obliger burnout). This is an opportunity for me to use that insight to set myself up for success.
It always seemed like there's no one around me to set external expectations for me when I'm blogging, but like you said there's a whole internet out there full of key words for me to compete for. These are external expectations in a way. I know I'm capable of writing better content than a lot of what is on the internet, so now all I need to do is to go find an article that I want to beat and then beat it.
Thank you so much for offering your perspective, because I think this might be the start of a whole new era in my life. One where I embrace my strengths instead of trying to fix my weaknesses. If you have any other tips on how to manipulate the blogging atmosphere into one I can thrive in, please share.
Also, do you know these strategies because you employ them to write your own blog? What's your blog's name? I would love to read it.