Try these self-reflection questions to see if you’re being too hard on yourself.
1. What’s a skill or goal you’ve worked on that has proved valuable, even though you haven’t stuck with it consistently?
It’s easy to berate ourselves for not sticking with skills/goals perfectly or not being consistent enough. However, in many instances, you can have success by dipping in and out of working on a skill or goal. For example, I go through phases with cooking but that’s still been enough effort to develop reasonably good cooking skills over time.
Your examples of this principle could be in the work or personal domain, for example, mindfulness, yoga, or building up your work-related social media. I’ve personally done 30 day projects for both mindfulness and yoga in the past, and even though I don’t practice these very consistently now, I’ve built up enough familiarity with these skills that I’m able to comfortably dip back in and out.
Instead of criticizing yourself for not being consistent, try recognizing that there are a lot of competing demands on our time and willpower. By virtue of the fact there are only 24 hours in a day, it’s only possible to devote consistent effort to a very limited number of things.
You may be good at being persistent (going back to work on goals repeatedly) even if you’re not good at being consistent.
In my experience, when you practice a skill daily for 30 days, you’ll feel comfortable enough to go back and use the skill as the need arises.
2. What’s something you tried that didn’t really pay off until a long time later.
Perfectionists tend to be self-critical when something they do doesn’t pay off big immediately. For example, let’s say you learn some DIY skills for fixing basic things around your home. Initially, you may think that for the time spent you would have been better off calling in a professional. However, since skills typically build on each other, your effort may not really start to pay off for several years. Let’s say you spend a few hours scouring YouTube learning how to fix something yourself. Next time you face a similar problem you’ll have existing skills and can potentially solve the problem in much less time.
People who have a natural love of learning will typically learn many diverse skills that end up proving useful in other contexts. Through practice, you’ll also get good at certain generic skills like finding information quickly.
– Alice Boyes Ph.D.
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