A Green Spin

Archive for May 2011

How to live – letting go of perfectionism

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Sometimes through the monotony of internet trawling, you come across a really great blog post that makes you tingle and go ‘eureka!’. I thought I’d gather these ideas up, for the sake of fellow perfectionists like me who are struggling in the vast sea of goals, procrastination and conformity!

  • Step 1 – Let go of your goals

Perfectly summed up by Leo Babauta’s The best goal is no goal [click]. Yet it is so damn hard to actually put in action. One thing that helped me think about this was when I was reading Jacques Derrida’s post-structuralist ideas on the metaphysics of presence [click] in Western history and culture. So basically, in the beginning half of the 20th century he wrote about this idea that as a culture we place a LOT of emphasis on presence over absence, or in more basic terms, emphasis on the ‘meaning’ of something, and how we always want to find a meaning behind everything. This is very different to cultures such as the ‘orient’, where another post-structuralist, Roland Barthes, writes about the lack of this meaning (or in posh words, transcendental signifier) when he goes travelling to Japan.

So what am I talking about? Basically, how we as a culture place a hell of a lot of emphasis on goals, meaning and direction in our lives. We never take the time to stand back and let go of it all – things like our old goals to learn French, to learn to play the piano, to travel the world. Yet once we let go of these goals, once we let go of our need for ANYTHING, we FINALLY open our minds up to the idea of the potential we have for each and every day, and how we can use it. Effectively, we get rid of the ‘to-do’ list. Following on from the idea of the ‘to-do’ list…

  • Step 2 – ‘Do it tomorrow’

Personally I found this book by Mark Forster ‘Do it tomorrow’ [click] incredibly useful. The main point you take away from it is the idea of not trying to sabotage your day with a continuous stream of things you need to do (mostly related to the work scenario, e.g. your boss/colleagues asking you to do such-and-such), and instead putting EVERYTHING done on a ‘Do it tomorrow’ list, so you can tackle it the next day. In a work scenario, this is a great idea, and also a good way of tackling e-mails/texts/phone-calls/social media etc. basically all those little things that niggle their way into the ‘priority list’ every day.

You need to read this whole essay to take it all in, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s basically a new way of looking at procrastination, and what I took from this is the usefulness of having an ‘indefinate important task’ at the top of your vague ‘to-do’ list, but then leaving it for weeks/months at a time whilst you do other things instead. It’s good to think of this important task as something that isn’t really necessary for tomorrow, and not something that’s actually a DREAM of yours – for example, don’t put ‘Travel the world’ at the top, because you just won’t do it! Instead, you should put something like getting an essay down for a client, or redecorate your home, or whatever is important but not actually defining to your life and how you want to live it. For me, I tend to put ‘Tidy and declutter my room’ at the top, then go play piano/write songs and stories/do actual uni work instead.

  • Step 4 – ‘Where comfort ends, life begins.’

This quote is a slightly destructured version of “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch), rearranged because I think it sounds better that way. Basically, we live in our comfort zone, and we’re not greatly inclined to get out. Food, internet, TV and sleep are all some of our most damaging comforts, that stop us from ‘beginning’ life and taking risks, starting new projects because we’re afraid of failing.

Out of all the above steps, I think this is the hardest by FAR. It involves questioning everything you do. I first heard this quote on a day I was actually decluttering my room for once, and it quickly became the most surreal afternoon ever. I’d walk out of my room to the computer to settle down on Facebook, then turn around midstep because I’d realise I was heading for comfort zone number 1. Then I’d walk downstairs to the kitchen, comfort zone number 2. I was basically walking from one comfort zone to the next all day, and analysing my every step.

Ever wonder where your days go? Probably on one of your little comfort zones, if you’re anything like me. Try analysing your day-to-day actions, and see how often you retreat into your comfort zone. What happens when you step outside the every-day comforts, and look life square in the face?

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth.  Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

  • Step 5 – Create who you want to be. ‘The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.

Don’t quite agree with this? How about, ‘The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action’. Either way, you’d be inclined to agree that the person you are is made from your choices. Nurture the person you want to be. Let it grow. If you’re into meditation, maybe take a look at this [click]. Who you will be is not inevitable – it will be made from your choices now, today, and every day. Fear must be overcome again and again. Relish it. Breathe it in. Live on it.


Written by Peppidee

May 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized