We know this. I know this. You know this. That old man sitting at a nearby park probably doesn’t care about art improvement but, still, even he knows this.
It is the one of The Most Frustrating Thing Ever. Why couldn’t I just be good at the things I like to do in an instant? Like, why do learning curves even have to exist?? Why can’t I just become the next Einstein or the next Picasso or the next Marie Curie tomorrow???
You’re probably not as dramatically ambitious as yours truly, but I bet you’ve been frustrated and impatient before, right?
The Case of Improvement for Artists (hint: iz torture)
I love progress. And if you’re a self-improvement junkie like myself, obviously, one of your biggest goals in life is to consistently be a better version of yourself. But progress is slow and tedious and it kills me. (Well, not really literally. But you know what I mean.) Creative progress, especially, is a specific kind of torture for me.
See, I’ve always been an impatient person. But I’m more so an impatient creator. When it comes to my art and my writing, I want to hurry, hurry, hurry.
Hurry up and improve on your anatomy, Kate.
Hurry up and draw good noses, Kate.
Hurry up and write engaging stories, Kate.
Hurry up and create awesome content, Kate.
Hurry up, Kate.
I keep on pushing myself to hurry hurry hurry. That I need to keep moving forward. That I need to get better. And the thing is, in art, you don’t really see you’re improving. So I become even more greedy. I become more and more frustrated, and more and more impatient of myself.
Sometimes, to a point where I’m mentally scolding myself for not seemingly getting better.
We are our harshest critic already. But with myself and to myself, I am unforgiving. I never tolerated even an ounce of imperfection. It’s sad. Because we are also our most frequent company.
Can you imagine being in the company of someone so critical of you?
That drive for art improvement became toxic. I made it toxic, and it backfired. And so, in an attempt to gently remind myself that um Kate? You HAVE improved tho, I did the #DrawThisAgain art meme. It’s where you try to draw an old art and see the differences and changes.
I chose a really old work, one I did in 2016. Back when I still a complete watercolor noob and just starting out. I loved it — I still do. But recreating it with all the creative arsenal I picked up for three years, it was amazing.
And once I was done and took a step back, I thought to myself, “If 2016 watercolor noob Kate could only see me now…” I mean, I know she would never see the me now. That’s just how it is.
Who you are, right this second, will never get to see how much you’ll improve in the future.
But who you are, right this second, is also the only one who can look back to where you’ve come from and see how far you’ve come.
I now take comfort in having this truth. I’m probably going to tuck myself into it forever. Because, man, it’s far far better than the rusty old thoughts of “Not Being Enough.”
In business and management, looking at historical data is a sensible way of self-evaluation. But looking back is also a gift. A gentle reminder to your all-too-focused self, a small shift in perspective. That you are doing just fine.
So here I am, doing exactly that.
I first published this post on my Patreon page but I added a few words and wrote additional thoughts. You may see the original post, in its infancy, here.
At 11:23 in the morning, a young girl who has only ever cooked eggs and rice in her life was in the kitchen with the stove top on. She was chopping an onion, preparing for her younger sister’s meal when she accidentally sliced her finger. As she ran around looking for Band Aids, she heard her uncle laughing in the living room. It was the kind of laugh that was three-quarters snort and a quarter derision.
“If you can’t even chop onions without hurting yourself, you’ll never be cut out as a chef.”
Now, the girl never thought she would ever be a Michelin-star cook. She has never even aspired to run her own restaurant. But those words still cut through her heart and crushed her.
I’m telling you this story for a reason. And I hope by now you get it.
We all have that one person in our lives, that young girl’s uncle. Someone who aces at being a Jamie Raincloud. A put-downer. A positivity vampire (you know, someone who sucks the positivity out of you).
And sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if what they’re saying is actually a big deal to you or not. You would still be hurt.
And as much as I want to explore that complicated area of feeling hurt on things that ultimately don’t matter, I want to take a rain check on that for now.
What I really want to focus here is that subtle nag at perfection and success the uncle in the story did. It’s like he was saying that the young girl, who has barely cooked a meal in her life, cannot be a chef just because she hurt herself in the middle of cooking. That someone completely novice can’t become a master all because of committing one common mistake.
Now, as an avid fan of Masterchef Australia for the past couple years, I think that’s loaded bullcrap.
I know for a fact that even home cooks, those people who are passionate about food and cooking, can hurt themselves in the middle of a panicky situation. Those well-renowned chefs only seem effortlessly perfect and successful in the kitchen now because of all the mistakes and little injuries they got early on in their careers. Mistakes that, well, they learned from. Their so-called perfection and success are only achievable by learning through their failures.
See, we all make tiny mistakes.
[bctt tweet=”To say that one tiny mistake can cost you your success or your career or your entire life is utterly foolish.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
For years, I’ve had this voice whispering to me, my very own inner negative uncle. That perfectionist, positivity vampire telling me every tiny mistake I’ve done is pushing me farther and farther from perfection and success. I guess, these voices contributed to the anxious-filled, overthinking perfectionist that I have become.
Just last month, I was on my way to my first ever job interview. And I forgot to bring any valid I.D. to get inside the building. All throughout the bus ride, I kept thinking how I have screwed things up. They’re never gonna interview me because I’m incompetent. The HR of the company will whisper it throughout all the HR of all other companies in the city. No one will hire me. And so, I am an utter failure.
All these thoughts… because I left my I.D.
But see here’s the thing: I am still here. I’m still alive. And little by little, I’m moving forward. Making progress and achieving small successes.
We, as a society, have reached a point where we condemn or ridicule every mundane mistake a person has made. And to be honest, it’s not a great time to be in. We can be so hung up on the smallest details and the tiniest flaws. So much so, that we forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
And I’m not saying mistakes are great. They aren’t, obviously. Mistakes suck balls. But judging someone’s character based on the mistakes they did is a bit… unfair, don’t you think?
So if you’re like me, beating yourself over every small mistakes you commit, here’s a reminder:
[bctt tweet=”No one should ever be measured by the mistakes they did. Your failures cannot measure what you are worth. And it should never.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
It’s how you respond after such failures that matters more. Be it changing for the better. Or striving for improvement and progress, whatever that may be for you.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
How do YOU define perfection and success? Have you ever had a non-dream be shattered before? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!
As my boy, Li Shang, famously said, let’s get down to business. If you’re here right now, I’m willing to bet you’ve been in that kind of sloppy hell: The Slow, Sloppy Hell of Feeling Unproductive.
It isn’t exactly painful outright. It’s one of those slow-burns. And it burns from the inside out. It targets your self-confidence and motivation and self-determination ever so gradually until they’re nothing but ashes.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, friend. I’m here.
Let me help you douse that flame now before it continues to spread. Here are three reasons why you’re not achieving anything right now and what you can do about it.
Why You are Feeling Unproductive Today and What You Can Do About It
1) You are busy doing other less important things
Look, I get it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all said we had an unproductive day. That we weren’t able to accomplish that one thing because we were too busy on other things.
But were you?
Were you really busy with other things? Or suppose you actually were busy, were you too busy on something that’s actually relevant?
Maybe, like me, you were only doing this thing they call procrastination.
Take it from someone who went to the Procrastinators’ School of Making Excuses. There is a difference between being occupied and pretending to be busy. Learn it. Know what signs to look for.
Be self-aware when you start making excuses. Over time, you’ll find it easier to spot them. I noticed that excuses always have a different tone than truth — even those we say in our heads.
What You Can Do:
You’re probably familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix. Where you arrange the tasks you need to do under levels of importance and urgency. This way, you can eliminate a task that is neither important nor urgent. And then you can focus your energy and present time on things that are actually important or urgent. Or both!
2) You’re a perfectionist
It may seem counterintuitive, saying that being a perfectionist is making you unproductive. Like, won’t my perfectionist tendency make me more productive?
I know this because, aside from being a Master Procrastinator, heck I’m a Master Perfectionist too.
When you’re so focused on having everything — and I mean, every tiny detail — perfect, you end up getting fewer tasks done.
See, perfectionism takes up a lot of time by forgetting time. When you’re nitpicking on the small stuff, when you’re putting 120% of your attention on that tiny area in your project, you forget about everything else. Including time. And if you have that special hybrid I call perfection procrastination, you waste time by doing mundane, unimportant tasks. When you should be working on the ones that matter.
What You Can Do:
Give yourself the permission to fail.
Remember: choose finished, not perfect.
Let that sink into your mind. The idea of not succeeding at first try isn’t so bad. What’s important is that you learned from your failures and mistakes. And these lessons will actually help you get closer and closer to success.
3) You’re feeling unproductive because you’re mentally or emotionally stuck. Or both.
Being stuck stems from various causes. Perhaps you’re having a writer’s block. Or experiencing a creative draught. Maybe you just have zero inspiration to write or do anything.
The thing is, a lot of our physical tasks are partly powered by our inner resources. Some even more so than others.
This shouldn’t come off as a surprise anymore. The immediate connection between our physical health and mental wellbeing has been proven in so many studies. Our physical health is as affected by our mental wellbeing as the other way around.
Which means poor mental health can be the cause of physical fatigue. And therefore, you feel unproductive.
In order to do the things you need to do, you must also pay attention to these inner resources–inspiration, motivation, and mental stability, to name a few. Because when we lack or don’t have such resources, we become mentally or emotionally paralyzed. Literally unable to work even when we are physically able to do it.
What You Can Do:
Along with your physical health, take care of your mental and emotional well-being too. Exercising is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Having a well-rounded healthy lifestyle that takes into consideration your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is imperative — whatever life you may live. Create that balance, yes? BIG YES.
I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!
Have you got more tips for those who are feeling unproductive? Share your wisdom in the comments below!
Is Time Management in the same level for you as flying? (Because, you know, it’s unachievable) Or maybe you’ve planned to be productive but end up spending it scrolling through Twitter? Perhaps you’re always scrambling around to get a some semblance of routine in your life?
Friend, I know exactly how you feel. Which is why I know you definitely need to create your own business hours.
Obviously, most businesses have this. Business hours is that period in which the company do… well, business. But we can also see it like this: it’s when, and only when, people can go do business with a company. Or in this case, you. Here’s how creating your own business hours will help you.
The Benefits of Establishing Your Own Business Hours
1) You create boundaries
Specifically, time boundaries.
If you ever struggle with friends or bosses who respond to you at ungodly hour, this one’s for you. This is also helpful to those who work at home or are freelancers.
When you don’t have the gift of a set time like in a typical nine-to-five job, it could be so easy for your work hours and non-work hours to blur and mix together. And that isn’t productive or efficient.
Creating your own business hours could help with all of that.
Not only do you create time boundaries to the people around you, but you can also train yourself to stick to those same boundaries. I know there are people who have a hard time with that as I’m one of those people.
2) It gives you free time
Because you have set business hours, you can leave time in your day for personal stuff. Maybe you like to kick back and crochet to end your day. Or maybe you like to have time for a 10-minute workout sesh in the morning. Knowing when your work starts and ends means you can make room for other things in your life.
And most importantly, when you do scroll through Twitter, you could do it outside your business hours, on your free time – and not feel guilty about it! #Win.
3) Avoids overwhelm and burnout
Overwhelm and burnouts often happen because of overworking. Sometimes, people overwork simply because they don’t have that strong separation between when they should work and when they should take a break.
When you have your own business hours, you can establish a structured time in which you do your work.
And you should do your work strictly within those hours only.
Why do you think most factories have business hours? Because it isn’t ideal to run a machine endlessly and without breaks. If they did this, they would run their machine to the ground and break it. Like machines, you need to take a break.
4) Creating your own business hours can reduce stress
I think this is particularly helpful to fellow Obligers, and anyone who is a semi-organized potato like me.
Obliger is one of the four tendencies in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies. (Gosh, I am in love with this book. Expect a book review and a more in-depth discussion on the tendencies in the near future!)
Obligers are those who put a higher value on meeting other people’s expectations than they do on their own. Which makes Obligers reliable co-workers and peers. (Not to brag or anything, but this is accurate yo.) However, they also have trouble setting boundaries on other people’s demands, and this could be a huge source of stress for them – which is, again, accurate yo.
If you’re an Obliger like me, creating your own business hours can help you set limits on what people need from you and when you can work on those demands. No more getting up late at night to write that document someone wants.
On the other hand, this is also super helpful for both semi-organized and un-organized folks. There are times when you are aware of how you aren’t organized. And you mentally kick yourself for not being productive with your time.
Establishing your business hours, and sticking to it, may just be what you need. With a structured time like this, it’s like going back to school. You don’t have to think about what you need to do. The frequency of scrambling around is lessened because you already have your day planned out for you, just like when you were at school.
The big difference is this is more convenient because you don’t have to start at seven-in-the-freakin-morning. (Shaking my head at the school system.) Instead, you get to establish your work hours during your peak time.
In this day and age of hustle culture, time is a very important commodity. Learning to be more productive is everyone’s business nowadays. Maybe you can juggle everything in your to-do lists like a pro-juggler could. But maybe you’re like me and is often seen scrambling around for some semblance of order and routine.
Start by establishing when to work and when to take a break.
And look hey. This may not be boss-level time management, but it’s a start!
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Are you a professional time-juggler? Or are you a Twitter-scroller? Do you think established business hours will work for you or nah?
We all know January is the month of new goals and resolutions. New year new me, as every netizen proudly announces on January 1st. We greet the start of the year with optimism and hope. And why won’t we? There’s something absolutely wondrous about having the chance to start again.
The problem, my friend, lies in this teensy-tiny detail:
[bctt tweet=”Our optimism and hopefulness in achieving our goals often don’t last the entire year. Or even January.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
Now there are tons of factors we could consider. Maybe it has something to do with a certain personality trait. Maybe you weren’t able to create an effective goal-slaying strategy. Or maybe – just maybe – the goals and resolutions you set for yourself was unachievable and unrealistic in the first place?
Before you get your feathers in a ruffle, let me make this clear.
I’m not saying you can’t dream big. By all means, do! In the world we’re currently living, we need all the dreamers. Those people who are unafraid to go beyond. (Plus Ultra, knowwhatimsayin)
But there is a fine line between setting big goals and resolutions, and achieving those same big goals and resolutions. And that fine line is incredibly important:
Action. You need to take one specific action in a certain way: Start smart. And how does one start smart, pray tell, Kate?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Through small things.
An Ode to the Small and Basic
When you want to achieve something and nothing seems to work, start again. And start smart and small. (I dare you to repeat that fast.)
I know I seem like a broken record at this point but it’s too important not to say again. The small things matter. Be it a small habit, a small change in your routine, small goals and resolutions. They matter. In the same way that rice matters to an Asian household’s daily meals. Small things matter just as ants are important in the ecosystem they’re in. They make up the foundation in which the big things stand upon.
Without the small positive changes you start to incorporate into your life, you can’t expect to see the big changes.
Whenever I’m stuck in a creative rut, I go back to the basic. And I start again – in small things. Doodles, sketches, and when I’m really in a huge, like capital H huge, rut, I do stick drawings.
The thing with small is that they’re… well, small. They’re so small, they’re achievable. Easy to cross off your to do list. They can be achieved in a short amount of time. And achieving one small goal can give you enough dopamine hit to cross off another small goal. Then another. And then another.
Now, how can you turn big goals and resolutions into smaller goals?
I’m not kidding. And I’m definitely not just trying to be gory – I hate gore. In order for big goals and resolutions to become small ones, you really just need to chop them into smaller pieces. Like slicing an entire triple-layer buttercream cake into small, delectable slices.
Make a big goal like “write a book” into something small like “write for 10 minutes everyday.”
If you want to read more books, make it a goal to read before you go to sleep.
To grow your social media, start by spending ten minutes engaging with the community.
If you want to get a job, have a quota of resumes you need to send everyday. This same thing also works if you want to land a guest post or writing op.
Go as small as it needs for you to jumpstart that change, or create that new habit, or achieve those big goals and resolutions. And remember to keep at it. Make yourself repeat the small things the next day. It could just be one chapter, or ten minutes, or five resumes / guest post pitches. Heck, it could be even smaller than that, if you like!
The important thing is you’re putting one foot in front of the other. You’re taking it one slice at a time, consistently. In a matter of time, you’ll have your foundation. And it is a stable and sturdy foundation.
I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!
What are some big goals you have set for yourself this year? How can you turn them into smaller goals?
That said, I know a lot of people don’t like doing New Year Resolutions, me included. But there’s just something absolutely wonderful in being given the chance to reset things. And I think that’s one of the lovely things we could do in January.
But if you’re like thirteen-year-old Kate and you’re deeply allergic to change, why don’t you try leaving things? Specifically, you need to leave behind the things that bummed you out last year? You know. People, mindset or stuff that did not make you happy in last year. Below is a handy list of things you can start with.
6 Things You Need to Leave Behind in 2018 so You Can Start 2019 on a Better Note
(featuring some awesome motivational tweets from awesome people)
The comparison game is one you’ll always lose. Celebrate who you are and what you have, rather than fixating on who you’re not and what you lack. You are enough and you have plenty to offer but you’ll never see it if you’re busy looking at everyone else. 😘💛#WednesdayWisdom
One of the things you need to leave behind this year is this modern-day ‘sickness’ which does not bring anyone any good. And if anyone tells me otherwise, I’m challenging them.
Comparisonitis is real. We’ve all been there. We have done it. Compared our lives with our neighbours or our friends or even someone you only know through the Internet. And this problem definitely got bigger in this age because of social media and how it made other people’s highlight reels a mere click away. You don’t need that on 2019, yo.
I love how has become more proactive. The hustle culture is an ever-growing one and I’m all for it! I love how everyone is ready to act on their dreams and goals. It is honestly so inspiring, and makes me want to do the same with mine.
But there’s also a flipside to this.
Sometimes, we are so focused on trying to achieve our dreams that we have disregarded other equally (if not more) important stuff like our health and wellbeing. You need to leave this behind, this unhealthy habit.
Friend, it’s good to hustle and work super hard for your dream life. But please don’t forget to take a break. Look after your body and wellbeing too. Make them a priority. It’s your main ship to get to where you want to go after all 🙂
3) Negative Self-Talk
If there’s one thing I learned last year, it’s that I really am the only person standing between me and the great opportunities waiting for me. Negative self-talk is comparisonitis’s ugly cousin. You don’t need either in your life this year. Which is why we’re leaving both of them behind.
I made 2018 my year of saying yes. To new opportunities and new experiences and new friends. I’m so grateful for everything that had come to my life. I don’t think I’ll be able to experience any of it had I listened to my negative self-talk. And that did take lots of work, too. This year, I will continue challenging negative self-talk.
4) Bad or unhealthy habits
This one’s probably one of the hardest one to leave in this list. I know it is for me. And that’s saying something because, boy, are these things hard.
But it is necessary.
We all have them. A bad habit or five that’s preventing us to be the best person that we could be. Or at the very least, be a better person than you are now.
For instance, mine are picking on my chappy lips and procrastinating until the very last minute. Both are habits with long-term consequences that I know my future self don’t want to deal with. But it is so freaking hard to stop them too, you know???
Anyway, I will work on it this year. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I shall happily report less lip-picking and procrastinating.
5) Toxic people
I’m aware most people will say to cut off the toxic people in your life. And I support this. You don’t need to surround yourself with negative people who easily and constantly ruin your everyday life. But I also acknowledge that this could get tricky when that toxic person is a close relative or family. For some people, cutting things off with that toxic person may not even be an option.
Does anyone else have someone toxic in your life but you can’t completely remove them from your life entirely? I feel like people are always saying to just cut them off but sometimes it’s not that simple or possible.
6) Unhealthy and unnecessary perfectionist tendencies
Does this mean there are healthy and necessary perfectionist tendencies, Kate?
Why yes, there are.
Look. I’m a perfectionist. Does being one made life difficult for me? Yes. But do I still think there are great things that came out of my perfectionism? Absolutely.
See, if it weren’t for my perfectionist tendencies, I wouldn’t be able to deliver good work. I won’t make quality outputs in school, or during my internship or even here on my blog. It did help me in becoming detail-oriented and diligent. I do think perfectionism has some good sides to it. To a certain degree.
But like most things, too much of it is bad. One of the awful sides of perfectionism is the procrastination that happens when you have perfectionist tendencies — or perfection procrastination.
I know that most of these things above aren’t easy to leave or cut off. They could be awfully complicated, depending on your specific situation. But I hope that you try working on a couple or three of them. In order to be better and live a happier life, I believe that you need to leave something in the past. And find something better to carry for the now and the future.
Besides, isn’t that what self-improvement is all about? 🙂
I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!
What other things do you want to leave behind in 2018? Share them below!
Out of complete boredom, my younger brother borrowed my phone to play a Merriam Webster quiz.
And look hey. It’s not for the lack of games in my phone. I have one! A difficult puzzle platformer called Catbird. But my brother only wanted something to waste his time on, not his patience or his brain cells. And I get it; Catbird is basically like Flappy Bird. Definitely not something to just kill off boredom. But when I looked over his shoulder to check on how he was fairing, I was surprised at what I saw.
“What are you doing?” I asked him suspiciously.
“It’s okay,” he reassured me, “I have a plan.”
You know what he was doing? His grand strategy for the Merriam Webster quiz? He was clicking on random choices. Random. Like, zero consideration on whether that choice was the right one or not. I wasn’t surprised at all that he got a really low score afterwards.
I mean, how was that a winning plan?? You’re obviously bound to fail when you don’t think things through.
And then he did his grand game plan the second time. But this time, because the questions tend to repeat and he remembered the answers, he got more questions right. And he did this repeatedly until he passed.
Quite a cheeky strategy coming from my pure little brother, but it worked! So I figured this is something I could apply when playing Catbird. That instead of obsessing over winning, I could just try my best and learn from my failures.
Then I realized… whoa. This is a mindset I could have beyond games. I could apply it in my LIFE.
Perfectionism in games and in life
See, what I found disconcerting with my brother’s game plan was that it was not what is perceived to be a game plan. This idea of deliberately failing felt like an anti-thesis to the main goal of playing any game – to win. And as a card-carrying perfectionist, I was quite familiar with this.
Succeeding at first try is even next-level dopamine hit for me. And I’m sure it is for other people too. In fact, I recently found something on Pinterest about how to become a superstar blogger at day one, so I know I’m not alone.
The idea of being a successful blogger on your first try is also a kind of next-level dopamine hit. We bloggers have aspired to be that way, at one point or another. And maybe you still are.
The thing is, no one wants to fail.
Failing leaves an unpleasant taste to the mouth. We spray away failure like we spray away bad breath. We wouldn’t want to experience it if we could. This is why we want to succeed at first try. It means not going through all the awful feelings you get when you failed. It means going straight to medal. And foregoing trial and error is a concept that’s too good to be true.
But see, the heavy truth is this: Less than one percent of bloggers – or anyone for that matter – become successful at day one.
I admit, I pulled that number out of nowhere. And it really isn’t reflective of any statistics made on success. But you get my point.
Rarely anyone becomes successful at first try.
I already shared my two cents on failure before, and how it’s important. And I still stand on that ground. Failure is necessary for us to eventually achieve success. But more importantly, it is through failure that we learn from our mistakes. And eventually grow from it. And therefore succeed.
But how could we fail if we don’t give ourselves permission to do so? How could we experience failure and grow when we’re so adamant to avoid trial and error?
The Lost Art of Trial and Error
My mom, a mathematics teacher, taught me that when all else fails, when you can’t think of any other math technique to find the solution to a problem, do trial and error. It is the most underrated yet useful thing you can have for solving math problems.
Surprise surprise, it is also the most underrated yet useful thing you can have for solving any life problems.
But see, the problem with trial and error is that it is tedious. It takes suuuper long to get to the answer. And no one wants to take the long winding path, when they could just go for the shortcut. Honestly, even I don’t want to. But in this age of instant gratification, we’ve somehow completely forgotten the idea of trial and error.
When you start your blog, you want it to be seen and successful at day one.
If you’re trying out a new product, you want to see its effects overnight.
When you take on a new creative project, you expect things to go your way.
But you might not be successful at day one. You may not see if the product is effective until a month of consistent use. Maybe you’d reach a creative dead-end sooner than you anticipated.
Click to pin!
Maybe all you had to do was change a few things a bit. Tweak your process or try out a different one. Maybe you need to stop thinking things through so much and just click on whichever choice is in front of you. And if you make a mistake, you could always take notes. Eliminate that choice from your list for next time, and move forward.
And maybe, like my pure little brother with his cheeky game strategy, you too will pass your quiz.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
What do you think about trial and error? Can you think of a time when you couldn’t wait for the outcome to show? Share them in the comments below!
We’ve all been there. Cracked some knuckles, poised yourself for the shot and hit the ball rolling. And then the ball skidded to a full stop. Stuck and unable to move.
Inspiration to write? Zero.
Quite an erratic thing, inspiration. It comes and goes as it pleases. Which is why heavily depending on it is a big no-no. Especially if you’re like me and you want to build consistency in your blog or writing project. You need routine and a failsafe system.
And when inspiration suddenly slips away from underneath you, you need a backup plan.
1) Change Your Environment
If you’ve been holed up in your room for more than two hours trying to finish that first draft on your laptop, that’s basically your brain telling you, “I’m tired. I need a change of scenery.”
We can only take so much inspiration to write from one place. And I’m not just saying this for show. Our brains need constant stimulation to work – particularly when it’s doing creative work. The more we stay in one place, the less the stimulation our brain gets from it. For the brain, it’s been sensing the same things for hours. This is why we need go to someplace new. The new surroundings will surely recharge your brain in minutes.
2) Read, read, read
As a fully-fledged bookworm, I am all for reading. Leisure reading, academic reading, reading blogs, reading the back labels of products… I love all of it. If I could, I’d read like twelve stuff all at once.
But anyway. Reading is also great for reviving inspiration, yo!
And you don’t have to read a whole book too! There have been plenty of times when I become inspired just from scrolling through Twitter, or reading on someone else’s comment section.
One of the many awesome things your brain could do is take in information – any information – and process it and create lots of data just from that one piece of information. Our brains are literally biological supercomputers!
3) Bore yourself out
Did you know that boredom is deeply connected with creativity?
Yes, you with your eyebrow skeptically raised. It’s true. Plenty of studies have shown that boredom is a key ingredient to creativity. I actually listed down some of these said studies in this post about boredom and creativity.
But the gist of it is this: When we’re bored, our brain goes into Incubation Mode. This also happens when we’re in a shower or sitting in a car in the middle of a heavy traffic. It’s when our mind wanders, sifting through one thought after another. That’s when inspiration to write — or any kind of inspiration, for that matter — is born.
Also, if you’re still skeptical with this whole boredom and creativity connection, Chris of McAdventure blog also has a blog post all about how boredom relates to creativity.
4) Take a break
I feel like in this Hustle Generation, pausing for a while just isn’t an option. Think about it. Do you know any person who hustles so hard, they forget time to take a break? I bet you do. And I bet you know more than one person.
In my household alone, I know three and I’m one of them.
The problem is, we’re brain-abusers. We try to squeeze out every ounce and make use of every neuron of the three-pound lump inside our skull. We try to cram in our day with as much tasks as we can manage to accomplish.
But see, here’s the thing:
Even our brains need downtime. It needs to rest and recover before tackling on another task. This is why adding in white space into your life is important. Even a thirty-minute break in between tasks goes a long way!
Becoming inspired is important in finishing that first draft, be it a first draft of a blog post or a novel. And your brain is right there at the dead center of it all. Take care of your brain, and you’ll surely slay that first draft!
5) Brainstorm with a friend
If you’re really stuck at a creative dead end, then you can always ask a friend to help you brainstorm. I highly recommend asking for a friend who gets it.
Like, if you’re stuck in writing a blog post, seek help from your blogger buddy. If you need help with worldbuilding, call your writer friend. These friends are much more empathetic with your creative woes than, say, your mom. (Though it doesn’t hurt to ask your mom for help too!)
See, I agree with Shrek when he said that ogres have layers. I also think that us humans, like onions and ogres, have layers. And much like how peeling an onion layer by layer is a slow, gradual process, so do peeling your own layers. As a twenty-something, I honestly believe that there’s still much of myself that I have yet to learn and get to know.
Which is why I find personality tests fascinating.
And no, I don’t mean the “What potato salad are you?” kind of personality test on Buzzfeed.
These four personality tests helped me learn more about why I act the way I act, what are valuable to me, how I act with others, and why I can’t – for the love of all that is good – follow through with personal goals.
Myers-Brigg Type Indicator
This is probably the most popular personality test in this list.
Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) looks into four aspects of your personality: how you get energized, how you take in information, what means you use to make decisions, and how fast you can make a decision.
I took this personality test for the first time a few years ago in my General Psychology elective class. And surprise surprise, I got a 100% in Introversion back then. The great thing about this personality test is that it’s pretty accurate. I’m an INFP-T, according to the NERIS Type Explorer, which based its test on MBTI. And let me tell you: the description screams Kate!
With MBTI, you are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, particularly in the process of making a decision and interacting with both people and ideas.
I’ve learned of the Four Tendencies from listening to Kelly and Carly of the Straight and Curly podcast. (Side note: If you’re looking for an awesome podcast on self-improvement, give them a listen!)
The Four Tendencies framework was created by Gretchen Rubin and it can help you identify how you respond to inner and outer expectations. This is particularly helpful when you’re trying to create new habits and achieve goals.
You can take the test on Gretchen’s website, or maybe you’d know which tendency you are a part of just by reading the definition of each below:
Upholder – If you’re an upholder, you meet both inner and outer expectations so you don’t let others and yourself down. Upholders generally find creating habits easier than other people but they may still struggle.
Questioners – Questioners only meet inner expectations. They don’t do anything arbitrarily. They’re only going to do something if it makes sense. For instance, they could keep a resolution if it is extremely important but they won’t do it at a certain date like say, January 1st, just for the sake of it.
Obligers – Where questioners only meet inner expectations, obligers are the other way around. They only meet outer expectations. This means that they can easily achieve tasks and form habit if there was an external accountability involved. But they can’t do it on their own.
Rebels – As fairly named, rebels resist both inner and outer expectations. They would most likely cringe at the idea of creating routines and would generally try to live life with spontaneity.
The Attachment Theory
Coined and developed by Bowlby and Ainsworth, Attachment Theory examines the emotional bonds between people. They also suggested that our earliest attachments (aka back when we were all wee potatoes) have lasting impact on how we respond and act in our relationships as grownups.
There are four attachment styles, namely: secure, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized. The attachment theory does not only examine the romantic relationships we have – although, some questions in the test do focus on that.
I am a mix of secure and ambivalent, leaning more on ambivalent. When taking the test, I suggest thinking of how you are with your friends and family also. You can find out what your attachment style is over here.
Enneagram was my recent personality test find. I know it’s been around for a long time, but I’ve only taken the test recently. And let me just say: my type was super accurate to me?? I couldn’t believe it???
The Enneagram Institute describes enneagram as “one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others.” The idea here is that we’re dominantly defined by one type, but that we may also have a bit of the other eight types.
I’ve done this TONS of times. You probably have too.
When you’ve wasted more than an hour getting every value in your spreadsheet aligned correctly rather than create that report you need to present to your boss next Friday, you’re procrastinating.
When you’ve spent a year researching on every travel websites and blogs, and redoing your itinerary for that one-month backpacking in Europe instead of just buying the damn ticket, that’s procrastinating.
When you’ve spent half your Nanowrimo scrolling through Twitter and creating character aesthetics and designs instead of writing your novel, that’s procrastinating.
And all these become perfection procrastination when you do them because you’re afraid of failing or getting rejected or doing poorly.
– is counterproductive. – feeds on your unhelpful perfectionist tendencies. – does not help you whatsoever.
Perfectionists do this, obviously. But even if you don’t identify as one, if you’ve stalled on doing what you need to do because you’re afraid of rejection or failure and you want things to go smoothly the first round, that’s still perfection procrastination.
It’s the kind of procrastination that is not helpful to you or anyone at all. (And yes, there are helpful or high-functioning procrastination.)
Believe me, you do not want this. So today I’m going to share how I deal with perfection procrastination. Hopefully, if you’ve also experienced perfection procrastination, this helps you too.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PERFECTION PROCRASTINATION
1) Set yourself up for the mess and the failure
One reason why I experience perfection procrastination is because I’m afraid of messing things up and failing the first time. I wanted things to go smoothly. I wanted things to be perfect. But who am I kidding? Perfect is to achievable as Pluto is to Neptune. They’re near but they’ll never meet. (Unless of course, the universe ends and they collide. But I digress.)
This fear of messing things up and failing often hinders us from doing what we’re supposed to be doing. This is where setting yourself up for the mess and failure comes in. It does not mean you’re giving yourself permission to do half-ass, sloppy work either.
Rather, you’re placing yourself in a position where perfection can’t happen. Perfection isn’t even on the menu because you’ve ordered at a restaurant that only serves chaos. Here’s an example:
One of the artists I admire online, Jiji (@jijidraws) shared how she hasn’t posted any artworks recently because of her nagging fear that it won’t be good enough to post online.
In it, she can’t use pencils, and she can’t erase her works. She knows not all the works in the sketchbook will be pretty or even good enough. Her only goal is to get something done. (Which I’ll talk further below.)
I love the idea of the No Fear Sketchbook. And I think you could apply this to any creative hobby you do. Like a No Fear Journal for writing, or a No Fear Photo Session where you aren’t allowed to edit your photographs.
By actively blocking out your perfectionism or perfectionist tendencies, you are able to work without constantly thinking it has to be perfect.
The idea behind the “First Domino” is to pick the easiest, most impactful domino to knock out. This helps you break away from the procrastination and just start the work.
Imagine someone who wanted to start a blog but they wanted things to be absolutely perfect before launching. So they do their research and create their editorial calendar and pick out the theme and work on blog design. And do some more research and a thousand other tiny things they could have done later on.
What they’re doing is perfection procrastination.
Imagine just starting a blog, putting out several posts and interacting with other bloggers. Then all their worries from starting a blog will go away, won’t it?
Look, I’m not saying planning is wrong and that spontaneity is the best. But there is a huuuge difference between planning diligently and stalling because of the fear of imperfection.
By knocking out the “first domino”, you free yourself from worrying over taking that first step. You just take it and the rest will be easy to topple over.
3) Set more realistic goals
Did you know that people are more likely to finish on time when they’re given concrete tasks and they’re more likely to put things off when they see the work abstractly?
This 2009 study found that how the task is presented can influence when and how it gets done. Basically, tasks that are concrete and specific are accomplished on time while tasks that are more abstract and general aren’t.
My mind: *blown*
But it makes so much sense, doesn’t it?? Like, maybe your goal is to be a New York Times Bestseller, or an award-winning blogger, or you want your Youtube channel to get a million subscribers.
All these big goals are great but they all feel like a faraway castle. And because they feel farfetched, accomplishing them gets postponed all-the-freaking-time. You get de-motivated and uninspired to continue. (I know this because I’m guilty of doing this.)
This is why I absolutely encourage turning big goals into smaller, more achievable goals.
Alli Worthington (my newly found blogging idol) said it best: reverse engineer your big dreams and goals, and make them more realistic.
Make them more concrete and more specific. You can even set yourself a short deadline with a five-item to-do list, or have a quota you need to meet at a set time. That’s how big dreams become more achievable.
4) “Good enough” is good enough
I noticed that whenever I create something, I have a finished outcome in my mind. So I work in order to reach that finished outcome.
Now, it’s great to know where you’re headed with your creative projects. But this can also backfire unpleasantly. You may end up focusing too much on the outcome – editing as you go, tweaking a small part of your artwork here and there – rather than on the process.
This is something I talked about before in my post about conquering creative blocks. Choose finished rather than perfect. Instead of wasting too much time making your work perfect, just get it DONE.
The more work you’ve put behind you, the more things you’ve finished, and the more lessons you’ll be able to learn from them. These finished works won’t all be near-perfect and they definitely won’t be all presentable. But they are good enough.
Go for good enough. Besides, you can always tweak it afterwards. What’s important is that you get it out the door.
Remember, perfection does not offer you the opportunity to learn. Mistakes do. And there is much you can learn from the mistakes you make along the way. That’s how you improve and, ultimately, grow.
Have you experienced perfection procrastination? How did you deal with it? Share your awesomeness below!