Perfectionism or Self-Sabotage?

For years, I struggled to begin my writing journey. I would write something I thought was good in the heat of passion, just to rewrite it again and again and again. My attempt to not settle for mediocre work meant I was not making any progress at all. This desire for my writing, font size, blog theme, color and everything else that (quite frankly) wasn’t relevant at all to be perfect kept me from taking that first step to accomplishing my dream.

Before now, if you asked me, I would proudly say “I am a perfectionist”. And this was basically my excuse for why I fail to make progress in anything. But isn’t that simply self-sabotage hiding under the cloak of perfectionism?

What I learnt from my struggle with perfectionism and self-doubt is quite simple.

You do not have to be perfect to set out to accomplishing your goals.

In fact, you don’t have to be anything. All you need to do is take that first step, as imperfect and as unprepared as you may feel. Holding out for perfection is admirable, but doing so right at the start could lead to self-doubt and lots of second-guessing which is actually more damaging to your self-esteem and confidence than possible failure.

Think of it this way; giving it a shot even though you feel unprepared means you actually tried and have gained some experience, but constantly second-guessing yourself only leads to self-doubt which most often prevents us from even trying. I cannot begin to count the number of opportunities I’ve given up simply because I was too afraid of not meeting ‘imagined’ expectations to even try!

From my experience, self-doubt has killed many more dreams than failure ever will.

So how do we ensure we aren’t stuck in the quagmire of self-sabotage in our desire to awe our audience right at the door?

  • Embracing Mediocrity: Of course, nobody wants to be mediocre. And it’s perfectly understandable that we push ourselves to produce our best in order to prevent this. Not surprisingly, this same desire to accept only what we consider the best from ourselves often becomes a determent to making any move at all especially when we’re just starting out. You would be amazed at how much courage you can gain simply from accepting the prospect of being somewhere in the middle. This singular philosophy got me started on my goals, and once started I have no intention of staying in the middle!
  • Avoid being Judgemental: Yes, passion and some feelings are needed for just about anything you sincerely want to accomplish. But make sure to do without them when making your decisions. Most times, we are actually better than we think we are. Or possibly not. Either way, we need to take that first imperfect step first doing our best to be non-judgemental about the quality of our work then work our way to becoming better. Remember that perfection is relative. What seems wonderful to you may not be to the next person and vice versa, so do not let the need for perfection hold you back.

Greatness doesn’t just happen. It is built one little brick at a time. So, do the best you can right now!

How Being Too Nice Is Harming Your Happiness & Well-being

For some of us, life can seem like a constant struggle between letting ourselves look bad by saying no, and sacrificing our own happiness and independence with unnecessary commitments. Yet we have to avoid the mental trap of “not wanting to let others down” in order to make progress in our own lives.

In fact, studies have shown that taking on tasks you’ll rather avoid causes you to harbor feelings of resentment that eventually could result in anxiety disorders and depression.

So if you’re like me, and you think it’s easier to “just do it” and avoid a confrontation than to frankly say no – be warned! You’re seriously harming your physical and mental well-being.

I am so bad in fact that if I have to lead a project, I can go so far as doing the tasks of myself and my team mates just to avoid having to police others into doing their parts! And just like that, I have a solid reputation of “getting the job done” even if those responsible choose not to. But how fair is that to myself? And what a self destructive habit to cultivate!

In the end we’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, and each of us is responsible for how their time is spent, not just for a day but for the whole of our lives. It’s not fair to yourself to use your own time (which equates to your life) in taking on the burden of others.

Admittedly, it is important to offer assistance to others when we can, but we must know when to draw the line between helping others and being sucked into their problems. Or worse, becoming the go to person for others to unload their burdens on.

Ask yourself this; How high does my own happiness rank in my life?

Remember that your life and happiness are important too so don’t sacrifice them for the convenience of others!

The only way to undo the habit of indiscriminately saying yes to the demands of others is to gradually learn to say no wisely. So how do you do this?

Firstly, believe in yourself.

Believe in the fact that you deserve to come first in your own life. Believe also in your capabilities and in your value, and that you do not need others to validate your existence or importance. Understand that you are valuable.

Your time is valuable, as are your skills. Don’t sell yourself short by serving others at the expense of your own responsibilities, time, health and happiness. Pleasing others all the time is all well and good but when compared to the cost on your time and wellbeing, it’s not really worth it. Your time is a valuable commodity which you need to pursue your own goals so use it wisely.

Don’t sell yourself short by serving others at the expense of your own responsibilities, time, health and happiness.

Secondly, don’t guilt yourself into believing it’s bad to say no sometimes. It’s not!

When asked to do something you’re not sure of, take your time to evaluate the situation. Keep in mind that once you establish the habit of saying yes always, those around you will begin to feel entitled to your time and will never understand even when you absolutely have to refuse.

So don’t wait for their understanding now, instead choose the responsibilities you take on based on your availability and the cost on your time and on your life. Remember that your life and happiness are important too so do not sacrifice them for the convenience of others!

3 Reasons Why We Procrastinate, From A Chronic Procrastinator

Everyone sets new year resolutions and goals, but only a tiny fraction is able to turn their good intention into action. We all procrastinate, and deep inside we know that procrastination is not an accident but a choice we make everyday.

Unfortunately, trying to avoid the sweet pleasures of immediate gratification compared to the difficulty in finishing a task (which you probably never wanted to do in the first place) is easier said than done.

So why do we procrastinate? And how on Earth do we get things done in-spite of it?

1. Overthinking:

Thinking too much can be a bad thing. As a chronic over thinker, I would know.

I’m the type of person that will think so hard about the pros and cons of doing something, and all the ways it could go wrong that I end up not taking any step at all.

For some others, it could simply be a fear of failing or self doubt – It’s honestly all the same.

wood typography photography blur
Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

So regardless of whatever reasons you may have, when you find yourself thinking so hard about why some idea wouldn’t work before even trying, remind yourself always to focus on the solution and not the problem. This way you are encouraged to act first and worry later.

The key is to take that first step. Start doing something. Any action is better than no action. Don’t hold back or hesitate, just take a deep breath and jump right into action.

2. Denial & Lack of Desire:

This is avoidance of a situation or task because we don’t like it or because we’re afraid of facing it. We refuse to face the present reality and seek ways to escape our anxiety, fears and frustrations of the situation.

To defeat this, you need to ask yourself; “Why am I avoiding doing this?” “Why do I hate this task?” Understanding your feelings towards the task or situation is the key to resolving this. It may require you to change tactics (approach the situation in a different way, step away for a bit) or even to drop it all together if you have to (and can afford to). After all, having to continually force yourself to do something you hate will never be beneficial on the long run.

It’s not an understatement to say you have to find some meaning in what you do to be successful in it. Because that is the only thing that’ll keep you fighting when the going gets tough as we know it often does. Only the love of what you’re doing can get you through those times and ultimately to success.

3. Stress:

Procrastination is often used as a coping mechanism for when we feel stressed in our daily lives. When we feel so much pressure from life (relationships, work, our need to succeed, expectations from others), we tend to put off certain responsibilities more easily.

man falling carton boxes with negative words
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

However this can only act as a short term measure at best, as watching your to do list pile up will result in more stress, which in turn leads to a further delay in launching those tasks and then you find yourself caught in the vicious circle of procrastination!

The way to resolve this is;

  1. Learn to set attainable goals, and to break them up into smaller tasks whose results can be determined immediately.
  2. Create a good reward system for yourself that can encourage and motivate you to stay on the task.

So, are you suffering from a failure to launch your goals due to procrastination? How do you feel about them, and the tasks you need to accomplish?

Perhaps you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid of defeat or because you’re under some external pressure?

What is holding you back from achieving those goals?

Take some time to answer these questions to find out why you’re stuck in a circle of procrastination and propel yourself into taking action right now.

Remember that having a passion for what you do is key for success. As Dale Carnegie says;

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.

The Magic of Just Starting

How many people look back on a time in their lives, just to feel regret for not having the courage to follow a certain road?

For most of us, our to do list is filled with dreams we have that we either “don’t have the time to pursue” or “don’t have the courage to even start”. We’re so busy playing catch-up with life’s daily, ever increasing demands that we shelf our own needs and dreams, until some tragedy strikes and we are somehow confronted with our own mortality.

But how our lives could transform if we could JUST START! That’s magic right there waiting to take flight with your dreams, and that’s all it really takes to avoid living a life of regret.

There’s something about taking that first step with resolve that aligns the forces of the universe on your course. Of course this doesn’t mean the journey will be easy, or that it will go just as you envisioned it.

But so what if it doesn’t? Whatever the result of taking that first step and staying your course, can be nothing but a success. You may even discover and fulfill new passions along the way, change lives or make history. This, is what it truly means to live a fulfilled life!

Ironically, the regret and frustration we eventually experience from not having “started” those dreams we have is greater than any pain we feel now from actually doing the work.

So if we can overcome the hurdle of “just starting”, we’ll find ourselves taken over by the need to get to the end. Just like everything has an end, our time is also limited so try to control whatever you can, let go of the things you can’t , live in the present and avoid procrastinating (I would know about procrastinating).

Take that first step towards your goals and experience the magic of “just starting”.

Hello From A Capricorn

At least I hope I’m still a Capricorn.

Happy birthday to me and cheers to a new year!

My prayer for this new year is not to let self doubt, fear or failure bring me down.

This is actually a reaffirmation for me as well that I have closed the past chapters of my life and am starting a new one today; This time, ready to battle my fears and get to my opportunities.

My Inspiration for this year is a poem by Walter Malone titled – Opportunity –

They do me wrong who say I come no more;

When once I come I fail to find you in;

For everyday I stand outside your door,

And bid you wake and rise, to fight and win.

Wail not for precious chances passed away;

Weep not for golden ages on the wane;

Each night I burn the records of the day;

At sunrise every soul is born again.

Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped;

To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb;

My judgments seal the dead past with its dead;

But never bind a moment yet to come.

So, discipline yourself to close the door on all self doubt as soon as you feel it creeping in by reminding yourself constantly that its not the defeat that destroys you, but your attitude towards it.

Self doubt has killed many more dreams right at the starting point than failure ever has.

Motivate yourself, and develop a positive mental attitude by surrounding yourself with positive-minded people and things.

Remember that Its not how many times you get hit that matters in life but how many times you can get back up to try again, and again until you win. . .

Finally, be thankful!

Life is beautiful. It really is. But only with a positive mental attitude can you see it.

So when in doubt, stop and count your blessings; you’ll be surprised at how much you have to be thankful for.

The Difference Between Victory and Defeat Is Our Mental Attitude.

For most of us, 2021 was not the best year; nor was it a great year, or a particularly good one for that matter. But for some of us still, we may decidedly just give it a pass as it is after all behind us. There’s no denying however that buried within all of us is a hope that the new year will be better and more fulfilling than last.

Looking back at 2021, I feel tempted to sink into a deep well of self chastisement. To beat myself up over all I hoped to achieve but didn’t. I see so many people happily talking about all they achieved and how much self discovery and adventure they were able to cram into the year and I wonder…why is mine different? Why do I feel such a sense of un-accomplishment?

Still, If asked about my 2021 my answer would be the classic “it was okay”. Because quite frankly, I have a hard time describing a year in which I (and likely most people)had so little expectations at the beginning of it and by its end, hardly met any. Yet, we lived through it when many didn’t. So, we swallow the disappointment of unmet expectations yet again and we find the heart to be thankful, for there is always much to be thankful for.

A Look Behind…

I decided to take a good look behind at the things that did and didn’t happen, and guess what I discovered? Well, you probably already guessed it. Yes! It wasn’t nearly as horrid as it felt. In fact, I had a really good time last year!

So much happened for me, and most of it were unplanned and admittedly challenging and so I’ve been stuck staring at my unachieved goals that I just couldn’t see all the impromptu blessings and joys that made my year.

A Glimpse Ahead…

So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things, one at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.

Rainbow Rowell.

Although my more ambitious goals weren’t met (like becoming my own boss or being swept away in a dazzling romance), but one of my most valued personal goal was – I shared myself more than ever before. At least I tried to.

I didn’t add a degree to my portfolio like I had hoped, but I did get a better job. And though I still haven’t taken all the bold steps I had hoped that I would, but I managed to make one of my most difficult decisions – to take my writing to the next level. Although I faltered somewhere at this point, but I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone and that for me is such a great win!

So ultimately, I didn’t make the giant leap that I expected to make, but instead took baby steps towards my vision and that makes the year more than worth it for me.

Most importantly are the lessons I learned from my challenges last year;

  • There’s no need to be impatient and its not enough to simply know where you’re going, you need to state clearly how you intend to get to your destination.
  • Take your time and create a step by step plan on how you will achieve your set goals, and then allow yourself to enjoy the ride.
  • Being vulnerable is painful but necessary if you want more out of life.
  • Smile more, be more thankful and happiness will happen naturally.
  • My happiness is my own responsibility.
  • When in doubt, remember to stop and count your blessings.
  • Most importantly, try baby steps instead of great leaps.

All things considered, looking back I do believe that I managed to take a good first step; not a leap, but definitely a step forward in the right direction. On that note, I’ll like to share a quote that will guide me through this year;

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident, just do it and eventually the confidence will come.

Carrie Fisher

So, what did your challenges last year teach you about yourself, and how can you use these lessons to propel yourself forward this new year?

 

The Greatest Life Hack You Need

You will be amazed at how much you can inspire others just by being yourself, and by choosing to share yourself.

Find your unique voice or style, then just go with the flow! It’s tempting to choose a style of talking, of acting, of writing, or behavior that you feel will be more acceptable to others, even though that isn’t you.

You absolutely must resist the temptation! You can never get anywhere or inspire anybody by simply being a copy, so allow yourself to become what you already are!

Find your own voice and give free rein to that thing that is trying to burst out of you and you’ll be amazed at the wonders you are capable of.

Every person has a story to tell, a passion to express or a vision to share – discover yours and don’t be afraid to own it.

Here are 3 easy to cultivate tips to help you gain confidence in yourself and be the inspiration you’re searching for!

  • Have the Courage to Trust in Yourself

Being original in a world where everybody is trying to be some perceived notion of what is considered ideal and acceptable can be lonely at first.

So making the choice to be yourself, express your views, and live by your principles will definitely need a good doze of courage.

The good news is that the courage you need can be developed simply through self trust! Trust yourself and resist the constant need to validate yourself and your opinions by those of others.

Trusting yourself can boost your self confidence and make it easier to make your own decisions and follow your ideals.

Most of us already have an idea of what we can do or want to do, and what’s stopping us isn’t money or external influence but our own lack of trust in ourselves.

Build trust in yourself by breaking the habit of questioning your opinions. Even if your choices turn out not to be the best, have the courage to stick with them and resolve to learn from your mistakes.

  • Stop Self-Criticism Now!

Constantly letting that inner voice go on and on with self criticism has no benefits at all so stop it now! Be kinder to yourself. And always remember that there’s no harsher critic than the voice in your head.

Whenever you hear the negative commentary inside your head, replace them with positive affirmations. How can you cheer for others, be a fan of others and not of yourself?

Be your own #1 fan, and if you’re worried if you deserve it, I can assure you that you most certainly do! You are amazing! You simply haven’t come around to seeing it yet, but you will, once you tell it to yourself enough times to believe it.

  • Discover your Strengths and Build on them

So you know you have a certain knack or the passion for something, but you’re not quite confident in your skills. That’s great, so build on them.

Don’t just wish you had the skills or resources to pursue a dream you have. Work towards acquiring those skills. Find your strengths (whatever they are) and develop them.

Don’t decide what you want to be good at, simple find those areas where you excel and If you’re not sure what your strengths are, you can ask those closest to you.

Invest your time and resources on building your strengths, however do not judge yourself too harshly for the things you’re not able to do. Remember that everybody is better at some things and worse at others so be accepting of both your strengths and your weaknesses.

The Happiest Day of Your Life Could be Today

If you were asked what it was that you absolutely needed to do to live a happy and fulfilled life, what will your answer be? And most importantly, why are you not doing it right now?

This question is actually what led me to start writing. Before now, I’ll always find excuses like; lack of professional training, lack of time, ability, inspiration and so on. But then while working my butt off in a low pay job and going through the monotony of everyday life, I’ll find myself frustrated with my inability to actually do what I want to do instead. Then I asked myself, why not? I mean, why can’t I just pick up my phone and write what I feel like right now? And that was exactly what I did (and what I’m still doing actually). The moment when I did that felt so satisfying that I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to give myself the freedom to just be!

I was speaking to an old acquaintance some days ago and she said; “Cynthia you are always so calm and purposeful. Amongst all of us friends, your life must be going best. I feel like I’m the least accomplished”. I laughingly responded to her that “calm is my superpower, and my facade”. Of course it wasn’t funny. I have battles I fight everyday, they just don’t appear on my face.

We had a good long conversation where I helped her take account of what she had accomplished over the years, and she parted with the realization that she had done quite well for herself. And I left with the realization that making comparisons between your life and the lives of others is dangerous for your self esteem, your happiness and your life in general. This was what she had been doing for so long that she wasn’t seeing her own accomplishments.

Unlike what she believed, my life is not all sunshine and rainbows. I struggle like everyone else with life’s lemons. And like everybody, I have to figure out how to turn my lemons into lemonade – by changing my mindset. Each day I wake up, I am grateful to God for the life I have and make a conscious effort to BE HAPPY!

I mean all it took for me to feel happier and like my life mattered beyond paying bills and chasing the clock was to change my mindset, and start doing exactly what I felt like doing one little goal at a time.

Today I am determined to do my best in what I can, to smile and to laugh with the people I meet on my way. To share myself with others, and appreciate my little victories. Its not always easy, but when I remember that I don’t want to live a life without regrets or what ifs, that gives me the strength to keep going.

So what if you don’t have the qualifications yet? Who said you can’t start now and figure it out as you go. The secret to making everyday the happiest day of your life is simply to follow your heart, and be grateful for the little joys we easily take for granted. This is the only way to maximize your life and make it count for something, to inspire somebody and to live without regrets!

Ask yourself; “What is that which I am already regretting not doing right now? Why am I not going after it? Why am I going in a completely different direction from what I know will make me happy”? “Why am I in this job? Okay so I need this job to feed my family, but then, why am I not using every spare time I have to pursue my dream”? This could be the only reason you are frustrated, unmotivated, angry with your life right now or even possibly depressed.

So why not take the first step now to make everyday of your life regret free and as happy as possible!