All or Nothing Personality | {The Perfectionist}

Something I’ve been thinking about as part of my 30 days of personal development is my tendency to be very all or nothing. I’ve always known I’ve had perfectionist {bordering on OCD} tendencies but it wasn’t until recently that I started exploring my personality in more depth and learning about ways of avoiding certain triggers.

Perfectionism is an interesting beast. It’s not as black and white as people may think and not always about having to do something absolutely perfectly, but more the need to keep doing something until you get it “right” or feeling anxious when things aren’t “correct”.

It’s easy to see how these traits can develop into feelings of judgement, rejection or criticism and often correlate with an element of self-doubt. And how being a perfectionist acts as a protection mechanism.

Having an all or nothing personality literally can mean you’re the life and soul of the party or don’t even show it. It can make you wildly productive and creative whilst also putting the brakes on because you feel if you can’t do something perfectly then why bother or doing something you’re not good at/going to complete is a waste of time and/or energy. The knock on effect being potentially limiting the things you try and therefore finding out what you’re good at or what you can achieve; often projecting as a lack of confidence or self-doubt. You may also put off starting something until the “perfectly” opportunity arises, i.e. when you have time, are in the right setting, when things “calm down” or you’re feeling motivated. And this may be absolutely the best thing to do dependant upon what it is but it again can cause a huge block to not only productively but also consistency.

Let’s take the example of starting a business. You have a great idea, you can image where you want to be and how it’s going to look. When you’re all-in you set up the business, put the feelers out for clients, design a logo, set up an email account etc. but on the other hand you may either a) get declined by a potential client and instantly pull the plug or b) continue to put off starting your side hustle because things aren’t “perfect”. You’re either all in or you’re all out.

I can definitely relate to times when I’ve put off doing something even fairly insignificant to the point it becomes stressful. Like I can’t quite make myself “just do it” because things aren’t set up a certain way. For example I’ve been trying to do daily updates on my Instagram stories about my personal development journey. This is something I would usually very easily put off because my hair isn’t done, my skin isn’t clear or the toddler is running around. To just do it no matter how I looked or felt took a huge surge of confidence and effort to break down the barriers which would usually stop me completing or even starting something I want to do.

Here are some other ways I’ve learnt about to help manage all or nothing tendencies:

1. Focus on effort based goals

As opposed to results based goals, effort based goals are less likely to trigger all or nothing tendencies. So for example, you focus on eating three healthy meals a day rather than the end goal of losing weight. With consistency and patience results will inevitably follow. Focusing on smaller goals everyday helps you stop feeling disheartened and creating habits will help keep you going even when motivation is low.

2. Lower expectations

A perfectionist is unlikely to start something unless they think they will be successful. The pressure to be perfect often limits progress and it can be hard to stay consistent. Perfectionists are also likely to procrastinate and dream about their potential rather than put it into action. By lowering expectations you are more likely to take that risk and start something because the stakes are lower or there is a “backdoor” get out clause. For example, you may not want to go for a run, but you get your running gear on and say you’ll run for 5 mins or once around the block. Or you may have a project you’ve been putting off so you give yourself just 15 mins to focus on it. This technique not only helps make the task seem less intimidating but it’s also likely that once you’ve started you’ll have the momentum to keep going. And if you haven’t then that’s ok because you’ve done the 5 min run or you’ve done 15 mins on your project, which is all you set out to do. Something I remember hearing from James Clear was about a man who started going to the gym everyday. He’d get changed, drive to the gym, go in for 5 mins then drive home. Now this may sound bizarre but he got himself into the simple habit of going to the gym then built upon this until he was spending say 45 mins working out. Food for thought.

3. Grace days

Life inevitably happens and something comes up which means your day doesn’t go as planned. This can often trigger someone with all or nothing tendencies to stop a new {or even established} habit in their tracks which they then can’t/won’t pick it up again until the next the next “perfect” opportunity or level of motivation. For example say you’re starting a healthy eating habit but 2 weeks in you get invited to a party and eat alllll the cake and drink allllll the drink only to then give up your healthy eating because you’ve “blown it”. By granting yourself grace days for when you either “fall off the wagon” or simply cannot commit to something you’re giving yourself permission to take a day {or morning etc.} off and pick right up where you started from the next day {or the next meal etc.}.

The key here is consistency. Which is exactly what I’ve been trying to work on during my 30 days of Personal Development and I’m already seeing the benefits of just taking 30 mins a day {when I can} to work on myself; whether that be watching an inspiring YouTube video, listening to a business podcast or journalling. Ok there have been days when I’ve been poorly, busy with work or just really tired – but that’s ok, because here I am, still picking it up after my “grace days” without either beating myself up and feeling like a failure and pulling the plug completely.

Learning more about myself and my personality traits and tendencies is helping to somehow make them more accepting. I’m not necessarily on a mission to change myself, but more to accept and become the best version of myself, warts and all.

Do you find you have all or nothing tendencies? What aspect of personal development would you like to work on?

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Published by Ellie Hully

Business Health & Home

3 thoughts on “All or Nothing Personality | {The Perfectionist}

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