Perfectionist Slob

I used to be a slob. It wasn’t pathological, but it did get pretty bad for a period of time.

I started a new routine a few weeks ago where I applied the mechanics of my daily drawing practice to cleaning up my house: do it regularly, and don’t worry about doing a perfect job. Just establish the habit/practice/routine of doing it regularly.

My main goal was mental health: I realized after cleaning up one weekend how much I preferred the experience of a clean house over a messy one. I joked to myself, “Why do I ever let it get messy if I like it clean so much?” But then it struck me that it was no different than my previous lack of effort in creating art regularly: I needed a routine.

But as I was cleaning the house the second weekend, the deeper reality of why my cleaning habits were so lax become apparent: it was a side-effect of perfectionism.  Continue reading “Perfectionist Slob”

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Perfectionism, Procrastination, the Fixed vs. Growth Mindset & Mastery

Regular readers know that I am am a huge fan of Stephen Pressfield’s ‘artist user manual’ book “The War of Art”. A central focus of the book is the concept that Pressfield names “Resistance”, and it symbolizes all of that psychological stuff that keeps us from creating our work.

Resistance = Perfectionism?

I’ve come to believe that what Pressfield calls Resistance is another name for Perfectionism — at least for me. Perfectionism is a tricky term, because most people (as I once did) think they already know what that word means, and that it doesn’t apply to them. I suggest that anyone who can commiserate with the lack of motivation to start or maintain progress in their chosen creative outlet look into perfectionism a bit deeper.

My research and reading led me to a quite succinct and insightful book that really opened up perfectionism in an easy to understand manner, and offered specific solutions to get past it — yes, it thankfully can be unlearned, and I discuss below some of the excellent tools I’ve discovered to do so.
Continue reading “Perfectionism, Procrastination, the Fixed vs. Growth Mindset & Mastery”

Premortem

The “Premortem” seems to be eerily similar to the unnamed idea I put forth in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Self-Improvement Tip (aka ‘Servant of My Future Self’):

Pretending that a success or failure has already occurred—and looking back and inventing the details of why it happened—seems almost absurdly simple. Yet renowned scholars including Kahneman, Klein, and Karl Weick supply compelling logic and evidence that this approach generates better decisions, predictions, and plans. Their work suggests several reasons why.

— Bob Sutton, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less via Shane Parrish

Nice to have my ideas validated by a Nobel prize winner!

15-Minute Stoicism (or, How To Outsmart That Jerk In The Future & Improve Your Life)

Establishing new healthy habits — or breaking existing bad habits — is more difficult than you think because your brain seems to actually think of your future self as another person. Ignoring your obviously low levels of empathy for the moment, it seems to your mind as if some jerk in the future is the one who gets all the benefits for the good stuff you do in the present. Not much of an enticement to make all those sacrifices, eh?

I’ve been thinking about how the philosphy of Stoicism — which I’ve recently became a hug he fan of —might help one out in these situations. Briefly, Stoic techniques include the concept of mastering your experience of pleasure. Often this is erroneously taken to mean that Stoics deny themselves pleasure, but what it actually means to be Stoic is to be in control of the pleasures you experience, as opposed to being controlled by pleasurable experiences.

Continue reading “15-Minute Stoicism (or, How To Outsmart That Jerk In The Future & Improve Your Life)”

You Don’t Really Want All This Stuff: The Century Of The Self

The Century Of The Self is a fascinating BBC documentary available on YouTube that gives a history of public relations (basically Nazi propaganda techniques with a more friendly name) and its far-reaching implications in our society and the world. The documentary features Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who pioneered this dubious practice.

Bernays took the psychological discoveries of his uncle, mainly those of how humans have a sense of need or emptiness or a need for an unknown fulfillment, and have them correlate the idea that those can be fulfilled with consumer goods. The concept was so successful it went on to be used by politicians, corporations, the military, and pretty much anyone in power. The concept of planned obsolescence is tied to this, as manufacturers needed a way to get people to buy more stuff, and replace the stuff they had. The magic wand was supplied by Bernays, whose effective techniques make consumers feel like they are lacking if they do not have the latest and greatest. Sound familiar?

Continue reading “You Don’t Really Want All This Stuff: The Century Of The Self”