Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

What should you do when you want to do everything? If you're fascinated by everything, and you've been called dabbler, dilettante, undisciplined, indecisive etc., this forum is for you.

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Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby pixelpoetry » Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:32 am

Refuse to Choose was a GREAT book for me. I have all the ideas and interests running through my mind to the point where I couldn't do anything. Like many scanners, I have learned and continue to learn a ton of new skills. I'm particularly drawn to creative endeavours that involve building something; I love putting colours, textures and shapes together. Anyway, the list of what I've learned is baffling and sort of a joke with my daughter's friends who are amazed at all the things I can do. Comes in handy at my daughter's choir competitions 'cause I'm a jack-of-all-trades.

Okay, so sounds like I'm a pretty smart, multi-talented woman, right? Well, if that's so, why do I get no where with these things? My career history has been a boring, stressful thing for me with a mediocre pay, so why don't I do anything about it? Well, A. I didn't realize I could do anything I wanted and B. I figured it out, and it's probably going to be the biggest of all obstacles for me to overcome: Fear of rejection, criticism, which leads to perfectionism is causing me to freeze up. I have a hard time finishing something because it never seems perfect enough, so I've been working on it; trying to stop even when I think a project could use an extra tweak. It's tough!

So I'm in a bit of quagmire, because I'm extremely drawn to working with colour and shape and being creating, working with my hands, but the very process can make me nuts with my perfectionism, even when I tell myself, time to stop! I think what's keeping me from getting out there is the fear of what people will say. I have a hard time with criticism and rejection, and I fear failure. I mean it's really uncomfortable for me. When I create something, if I don't have a GREAT reaction to it, no matter how wonderful I thought it was, I think it must be bad. It's so cut and dry for me. Anyway...

I made up my "umbrella career" and outlined all my colourful interests below it. I typed it up and put it on my board last night, right after I finished Barbara's book, "Refuse to Choose." I have everything on a cork board by my desk where I can admire it and add to it, change it each day while I work away at my extremely boring job. Now, if I can only find the courage to really do it. Fear is a big factor for me. What if it doesn't work? What if this isn't a good idea? What if I don't have the talent? What if? I wish often I had someone to do this with me, but I realize that maybe I have to stop waiting for that to happen, and just get out there and do it, mingle with like-minded people like Barbara said, so I'm doing it, baby-steps at first, but I'm going to do it.

I want to develop Kitchen Gardens for people and educate them on how to use them in their cooking, body products, etc. That, I hope, will be my Umbrella career in the future, so to begin and test this idea out, I signed up for a Victory Garden Class in my area. I start tomorrow (if I get over this cold I've had for the last couple days). Regardless, I'm going to do something in that direction, because when I think about my Umbrella career, it fills me with joy.

I can do this right? It's not that crazy of an idea, right?

Kelly
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby pixelpoetry » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:35 am

Okay, I took my first class working towards my goals. Sick or not, I managed to get through it. (I was in a daze from a cold I caught last week)! I really enjoyed it. I don't have space for a yard right now, so per my instructors advice, I mustered up the courage to ask a friend if I could use some of her yard to practice the skill of building a garden space. I offered her some of the bounty if she would lend me just a little room to work. I'm really uncomfortable waiting for her response, but I have to stop being afraid of the word "no." Anyway, haven't heard back yet, but I'll keep trying if it doesn't work out. I've a lot of friends here in Burbank! Wish me luck! :D
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby kashtanka » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:22 am

Pixelpoetry, congratulations on taking your first step! Taking a class in something that interests you always opens up lots of doors. it's also cool to hang out with people that have similar interests.

I just wanted to mention that the best way to use this board is to reply to other's posts before starting your own own. That way you get to know the people and you're giving to others as well as looking for answers.
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby Flightsoffancy » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:06 am

Aaah pixelpoetry our talent, and others' frustration.
Like you, I create and get sooo detail oriented that I don't know when I am finished or feel that I am never done according to the rest of the world. So take to heart your feelings. If it feels done , you are no longer interested, it is almost impossibe to focus on it , it is no longer fun and you don't want to do it again ., I'd say its enough, and remember, its YOUR decision , the rest of the world has no say. When I remember this I relax and my creativity does too, art of any kind needs the artist to be in the moment and accept the creation, it is how you react that is the most important, believe in it. Taking the classes to explore your interests is fabulous, it will definitely introduce you to the concepts, reality and like minded people, enjoy and good luck.
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby pixelpoetry » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:28 am

Thanks for your comments! I really appreciate it. My class was a lot of fun, and so now I need to start looking into others to keep the momentum going. Oh, and I'm working on establishing a community garden in my home town. It will take some time, but I've already connected with city officials and local groups to try and get it going. Thanks again!

Kelly
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby emspace » Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:28 am

Sounds like you're overcoming your fear, pixelpoetry. Good for you! I, too, get overwhelmed by the feeling that what I do isn’t good enough, but I’m slowly learning that I’m a far more critical person in general than other people. I recognise that other people aren’t has critical as I am when it comes to design, my passion. Other designers would understand that.

Recently, a very successful creative entrepreneur reminded me that our clients/customers are not the same as our peers. Who are we working for? Who are we trying to impress? If it’s your clients, they’ve hired you because they can’t or won’t do what you do, which means they’re amazed and grateful for your product or service. Perhaps our peers would be more critical, but they only matter if you care about winning contests or industry/peer group awards.

Also, I find it helps to think of a failure as the baseline for improvement next time around. When I was dabbling in pottery, not knowing what I wanted to make, I started with making ocarinas, which turn out to be not so simple to make. The first two or three were horrible, and I got the fingering holes swapped on one, and they were ugly and out of tune and unusable by anyone with an ear. But everyone in my class, including my instructor, was amazed by them. Like a typical Scanner, though, once I’d figured out the proper techniques that would have to be mastered to get things perfect, I dropped them and started making other things. Making them perfect would have taken quite a lot of dedication and effort, and probably dozens of more failures. I wasn’t trying to be a master ocarina maker. I just wanted to know how to make one. However, if I did want to be a master, I’d just try to make as many as I could as fast as I could so that I could get all the failing done faster. I'm pretty impatient with the learning process, but I understand that you have to get it wrong a lot before you get it right.

To prevent people from getting stuck on measuring themselves against the ideal, my workplace tries to emphasise measuring against the past instead. Is it better, easier, faster than the last time? If so, hurrah! How can you do it better, easier, or faster in the future? This helps keep forward momentum and continuing excitement about future growth, as opposed to measuring against the highest bar and always coming up short. And even when you do reach that high bar one day, there’ll be an even higher one beyond that, so it’s pointless looking up that far all the time. Hope some of this helps!
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby Tituba » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:11 am

Saw this quote:

"Done, is better than perfect."
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby SquarePeg » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:06 am

Some how I missed this thread initially, or I didn't have time to reply and forgot about it. I wonder how the OP is doing?

Anyway, my quote on this topic is: "Aim for success, not perfection."
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby Scenario Thinker » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:50 am

Tituba wrote:Saw this quote:

"Done, is better than perfect."

Yeah, this is standard fare in the corporate offices, now. When I see it, I always ask myself, "What ever happened to 'Do it right the first time' a previous corporate buzz-phrase".
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby Unity1 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:35 pm

I know this is an old thread but relevant to a lot of us.

On the subject of fear and perfectionism, criticism

When I was young I had a very odd job. It was never advertised, you got in via recommendation and most staff were ex military (not me). I hadn't a clue what to do but expected to do it hence many mistakes. For some reason, whenever anyone else was off sick or on holiday I was the only one picked to fill in and they all had specific roles, not many alike. Scary stuff. Often others had to redo my work and I used to wonder why on earth they just didn't do it in the first place, I hadn't spent years training like they had. Nowadays whenever I get worried about doing something right, I just think of those clueless days. I did get paid a very high salary for messing up!

In terms of starting a business and being scared, hopefully anyone becoming an entrepreneur will have done research on their niche and either learn as you go along or else hire someone that knows exactly what they are doing. Making mistakes just means you are learning about changes that have to be made and will help you in the long run.

What I find is that if something is going really well it could be that the mistakes have been undetected, this puts a spin on wanting everything to go right.
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby emspace » Wed May 22, 2013 5:52 pm

Scenario Thinker wrote:
Tituba wrote:Saw this quote:

"Done, is better than perfect."

Yeah, this is standard fare in the corporate offices, now. When I see it, I always ask myself, "What ever happened to 'Do it right the first time' a previous corporate buzz-phrase".


ST, I think “Do it right the first time” assumes the person doing the work is already capable of doing it right. That’s not necessarily achievable when you’re new to something. Such as in my example of learning how to make clay ocarinas, in some areas, you simply have to fail over and over until it finally starts to gel. You can’t assume everyone in an office already knows how to do the work they’re assigned. I work in an entrepreneurial company and most of the work that people are asked to do has nothing to do with whatever they learned in university or college. We make a lot of stuff up on the fly and we learn as we go.

The other problem is that the world is changing fast so that what we thought we knew how to do yesterday is no longer the way we have to do them today. There was a study that showed what people learned in the first year of a 4-year technology degree programme was already out-of-date by their third year. And that study is already more than 3 years old.

People like my boss are among the herd of voices now shouting to get results first, damn perfection. In fact, one of his latest kicks is showing people how to write a book in iterations, publishing every draft in a short amount of time (such as every quarter) and having the readers help give feedback on how to improve the next iteration. It’s a very Web 2.0 (sorry, I hate using that term) world view; get it out first, then edit.

Hey, I’m not saying I approve, but it certainly is the way public discourse and business is going.
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby Nytecrow » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:27 pm

I know this is an old thread, but I just couldn't resist adding a reply..

I've worked in law enforcement for almost 30 years, and one of the catch phrases we use is "Good enough for Government work." What it means is, it may not be pretty and win world acclaim, but it's good enough for now, it solves the problem. Now move on to the next problem...

When I paint pictures, portraits, landscapes, whatever, I'm NEVER satisfied. I see every flaw, and I used to agonize endlessly over it. But then I realized that other folks thought my work was wonderful, and they envied my talent. They paid money for my work, and they never saw the flaws that I was agonizing over. Whatever was in the picture spoke to them, and it was 'good enough.' And to top it off, I had a great time painting the picture!! So why the heck was I wasting my energy agonizing, and sabotaging my own happiness? I learned to say to myself "it's good enough for Government work," and then moved on to the next source of happiness/project.... :D
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby emspace » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:52 pm

Nytecrow wrote:But then I realized that other folks thought my work was wonderful, and they envied my talent. They paid money for my work, and they never saw the flaws that I was agonizing over.


So true! My partner often plays in a band with his dad and his friends, and my partner will get so frustrated with all the mistakes they’re making on stage. But look at all the people stomping around on the dancefloor, yell-singing along. I don’t think they notice or care that someone played a B-flat chord that should’ve been a diminished seventh. Intellectually, he knows it doesn’t matter, but emotionally, as he’s playing, it bothers him and it’s hard for him to go with the mistakes and ride it out.

Artists! :roll: :wink:
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby SquarePeg » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:16 am

Hi emspace, please don't tell your partner, but I'm the one who usually notices errant chords and notes. But as long as everyone is in tune and maintaining the beat, and the sound system isn't too overpowering or blaring feedback, I enjoy the performance nevertheless.
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Re: Overcoming Perfectionism & Fear of Rejection/Criticism

Postby sanwoman7 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:05 pm

Thanks everyone for your posts on this topic; your supportive comments bear repeating. This is a recurring issue for me; I'm a recovering perfectionist :D

Behavior change is hard--look at all the quit smoking/lose weight/overcome addiction groups! It's not simple or easy, but two things that have helped (from friends) are How Important Is It? (I used to think everything was equally important but now I can be a little more lax on some things) and Half-A**ed is Better than Nothing! (which usually makes me laugh if I can remember it when I need to).
Peace,
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