I’ve always been a person who wants to be good at everything. I’m convinced it all started when my little overachieving heart got a pottery set for Christmas. I was 8 years old and so excited to make pottery. All you had to do was put your hands on the clay and spin, right?
I cried every single time I tried to use that pottery set (you can ask any member of my family. They’ll laugh as they tell you how I guarded it fiercely from them, so as to not give them any opportunity to be good at making pottery).
This one experience very quickly transformed into a myriad of interests and new hobbies that lasted three to four weeks at most. I tried skateboarding, building my own guitar, dance team, photography, etc. But each and every time, my interests quickly dissolved in the midst of my frustration and anger. Why?
This constant theme in my life involves the juxtaposition between perfection and procrastination. In short, my work ethic could be trash. But I truly believe it’s more than that. My problem is this: I’m so terrified I’ll mess up. The fact that I could try something once and not be immediately exceptional absolutely paralyzes me. (Ridiculous, I know.)
What’s funny is that if you’ve had even one conversation with me, you know I’m an extremely passionate person. (Ask Natalia about how much I talk her ear off about music she probably doesn’t care about.) It doesn’t make sense that I can be so intensely interested in a hobby and yet abandon it at the first wrong attempt. But here I am, writing this post. And here you are, reading it.
So if you’re anything like me, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful.
1. Do it even when you hate it. I’m a writer. But sometimes I hate writing. I always see those Twitter memes about writers dreading sitting down and putting pen to paper, and I laugh because it’s true. But thanks to the advice of many people I hold in high esteem, I’m pushing myself to write a little every day. Even when I don’t feel like it.
2. Little goals are better than big ones. Being a dreamer is all fun and games until you’ve decided that in one month you’re going to completely redo your diet, workout every single day, and hang out with every person you’ve ever known. It’s harder to achieve goals when you’re only looking at the big picture, so break it down. (I’m talking minuscule details if you have to.)
Here’s an example. Instead of saying this: “I’m going to buy an electric guitar and start learning all my favorite songs on it this month!” (Real life situation for me right now.)
Say this: “I’m going to save up for an electric guitar these next few months. I’ll put aside 5-10% of my paycheck for one. When I get enough money, I’ll buy a used one.”
See? It makes the goal that much more attainable.
3. Realize you’re not perfect. And you don’t have to be. The standard of perfection I push upon myself has always been overwhelming. It’s whispering in my ear, telling me to work harder, look prettier, be smarter. As a Christian, I find it appalling that I try to diminish the perfection of Jesus by vying for my own. I’m not perfect, but He is. And that is all that matters.
So take a deep breath. You don’t have to procrastinate out of fear of being less than perfect. My challenge to you is this: Fail horribly. Smile at your failures because they offer you the opportunity to grow.