Are You A ‘Goal Perfectionist?’ & What Happens When You ‘Just’ Aim For An A+ Instead?
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Do you have a big goal that’s become a little pesky? It’s nagging at you – maybe because you haven’t done much about it yet? Or you’ve started but keep losing motivation?
Maybe it’s to start your own business, go back to study, lose that weight you’ve been carrying around, write and publish that book, run that marathon?
You might have started working on your big goal but then life got in the way? Fears or doubt set in and you sabotaged your own efforts? Maybe you are just too busy and put that goal on the backburner? Or maybe you haven’t even got around to starting on it yet?
Could you be a ‘Goal Perfectionist’?
Because I am. And I only just realized.
You see I never considered myself a perfectionist, because well – I felt that I didn’t do much of anything ‘perfectly’.
I thought a perfectionist was somebody who was meticulous, impeccably organized and had extremely high standards that they always upheld and they never skipped a beat (phew)… and well, that’s just not me!
Signs You May Be A Goal Perfectionist
Any of this sounding familiar?
If so, I totally understand!
I would write endless lists and plans, research, buy courses, start and then stop the tasks that I needed to do in order to achieve these elusive goals.
I would procrastinate and things would take me ridiculous amounts of time to do (for example this blog took me 6 months to get up and running…yep 6 months to set up a website and start with only 3 posts!)
And when it came to diets and fitness plans, woah! A simple deviation from the planned diet would totally derail me and then I thought ‘oh well, todays a write-off, might as well start again on Monday!’ And if it was Monday and I had a birthday celebration on Wednesday to go to, then I might as well not start the diet today right? Yikes.
And I won’t even get started on how many part-written articles and manuscripts I’ve started…
What Are the Costs of ‘Goal Perfectionism’
In extreme cases of perfectionism, mental health can be severely compromised and is not to be taken lightly.
In regards to achieving your big goals though, perfectionism could be causing you:
- To get easily derailed, leading to decreased productivity, then..
- Diminishing confidence in your abilities, then…
- Added stress & then..
- Leaving you feeling further away from achieving those big goals of yours!
What Happens When You ‘Just’ Aim For An A+ Instead?
When I was studying at university and I would spend enormous amounts of time researching and writing assignments, I never once aimed for, nor expected 100%. Instead, I would aim high and try to do the best I could. If I got 85%, it was a ‘high distinction’ (or A+) and it felt amazing!
Lately though, when I’ve been approaching big goals, I would expect this ridiculous amount of perfection. It’s relentless, ineffective and a total waste of time.
So I’m letting go of perfection when it comes to my big goals, and aiming for an A+ instead.
Quite simply, when you swap ‘trying to be perfect’ for ‘trying for an A+’ you will still be aiming for high standards, but you will also get:
- More done…then,
- More confidence…then,
- More motivation…then,
- Closer to achieving your big goals!
So How Do You Get An A+ On Your Big Goals?
Breaking old habits is easier said than done right? But I have found the following helpful:
- Awareness – simply becoming aware that I was striving for ‘goal perfection’ has been an eye-opener. When I start to procrastinate, give up easily or spend too much time on a simple task, I pull myself back in line and get on with it.
- Accountability – talking to a trusted friend/partner about your anticipated goals will help to keep you accountable, provide a second opinion and help when needed. They can also be honest and let you know if you’re being a bit unrealistic with your expectations for how much you can reasonably get done in a certain timeframe.
- Get to know your fears – Brene Brown talks about perfectionism being a shield from our fears in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Also, once you get to know your fears (whether they be fear of failure, humiliation, fear of success etc) you can learn to manage them.
- Focus on progress not perfection – break your big goals down into manageable milestones. They won’t seem so daunting and you will gain momentum and confidence from celebrating each milestone along the way.
- Strive for 85% – we aren’t robots and can’t reasonably be expected to do everything exactly as planned. Set up your intentions for achieving your goals and aim to get an A+ (85% and above) for them. For example, you’ve set a plan to stick to a diet….if you stick to it 6 out of 7 days = 85%, you get an A+, whereas a goal perfectionist would get discouraged at one slip up and throw in the week altogether!
- Growth Mindset – focus on having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset, which is important for the resilience and perseverance required to achieve big goals.
If you’ve struggled with being a goal perfectionist, I hope the concept of aiming for an A+ is beneficial to you too.
Give it a try and I’m sure you will notice a huge improvement in how much more you will be able to achieve once you are no longer aiming for perfection, but instead thinking with a growth mindset and aiming for an A+.
Let me know how you go!
I love the idea of aiming for 85% and having a growth mindset. The growth is the real key, right? And when I get bogged down in the “failure” to be perfect, I forget to recognize the growth I DID experience. Thanks for this!
Nice post and a really interesting subject. I think I am just on the cusp of being a goal perfectionist.
What wonderful advice! It is so hard to appreciate the 85% successes when focusing on the less positive 15%. I will definitely try to think in these terms this week with my goals instead of ‘all or nothing’!
I need to stay more accountable to reach my goals! I tend to be too secretive about my goals and plans, which makes it more difficult to put into action. Thanks for the reminder. Great tips!
Great article. Sometimes I am caught in trying to be perfect (Well, OK. Lots of time). But, I have learn to adopt “a good enough” attitude. It’s the same as aiming for 85%, I suppose. I work at it as best as I can, decide a stopping point and let it go. Thanks for sharing.
You have described me to a “T”. Thanks for sharing your experience. ❤️
I think this hits home with a lot of people. I have found that I also get more accomplished if I choose to prioritize my goals and focus on 1-2 instead of all 12. If I think about all 12 at once, I just shut down.
I’ve really struggled with being a perfectionist over the years and sometimes it’s held me back in achieving the things I want to achieve. I’m trying really hard now to focus on the ‘done is better than perfect’ mentality. It’s tough, but I’m getting there. I love the aiming for an A+ approach though…I shall be using this from now on too! Thanks Gemma! 😉
Wow! This hits so close to home. Great post! Thanks for sharing and sharing your tips. I’ve been trying the “good enough” mentality and trying to only pick 1-2 goals otherwise, I just get completely bogged down in little stuff or overwhelmed with everything I need/want to do that I just shut down and don’t do anything.