Monday Morning Wake Up Call!

It would be so nice, wouldn’t it? If something as simple as a notebook could change our habits overnight. Those blank pages. The physical representation of our fresh start. It’s almost religious. A sense of being born again. And this time, I won’t screw it up (cut to credits).

But I always did: screw it up, that is. It didn’t take much, particularly with diet and exercise – an unplanned slice of office birthday cake, or a missed spin class. A week could go from “new me” to “write-off” in the blink of an eye, the remaining days a sordid opportunity to revel in my failure, until Monday rolled around and I could start again (again).

Perfectionism. Fresh startism. All-or-nothing. Perfectionists aren’t great at swimming through the murky grey of slow and steady self-improvement, the kind that leads to meaningful change. Where inertia or regression isn’t failure, and it doesn’t take a Monday to get going.

So we diet then binge, buy new stationery, sign up to a gym and swing wildly between our new and old selves, wondering when our real lives will finally begin.

It was a relief, honestly, discovering that I was simply a victim of my schema, lost in a sea of all-or-nothing thinking inspired by a problematic self-improvement discourse. That the shimmering, perfect-from-now-on self I was reaching for doesn’t exist, because her story keeps going after the credits roll. While change is possible, it’s rarely linear. Any pledge for self-improvement that assumes we can sever off our less desirable personality traits is a lie.

I finally finished my book, the one I wish I’d read as a teenager, about a girl who discovers imperfections are part of being human and learns to see the world with a little more nuance. The process of slowly but surely reworking the manuscript into something that isn’t perfect, but is wholly me, helped reframe my thinking about meaningful change.

Is there such a thing as a whole new me? I wouldn’t know. Most days, I’ve stopped searching for her.

— Miranda Luby, from “Where ever you go, there you are: the myth of the whole new me” (The Guardian, August 21, 2022).  Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over by Miranda Luby is out now. 

Go Brené


Source: Brené Brown from her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” (via weltenwellen). Portrait via Isak

Working, working, working and honing, honing, honing

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“I recently interviewed David Burns, author of “Feeling Good”… In his more than 35,000 therapy sessions he has learned that the pursuit of perfection is arguably the surest way to undermine happiness and productivity…

Have you ever obsessed over a report when your boss said it was already plenty good enough? Have you ever lost an object of little importance but just had to keep looking for it? Do colleagues often tell you, “Just let it go”?…

This left me wondering: what if trying to be average could actually accelerate your success?…

Overachievers have such high expectations of themselves that their “average” might be another person’s “really good.” So instead of pushing yourself to give 100% (or 110%, whatever that means) you can go for giving 75% or 50% of what you usually might offer. This idea is captured succinctly by the mantra, “Done is better than perfect”…

The word “perfect” has a Latin root; literally, it means “made well” or “done thoroughly.” Another translation would be “complete.” And yet today, we use it to mean flawless…

To understand why, we need to understand the role of fear in perfectionism: “If I don’t perfectly [fill in the blank] something terrible will happen.” Often perfectionists are so used to this anxiety that they no longer even consciously recognize it; it’s just the fuel that keeps them working, working, working and honing, honing, honing… [Read more…]

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