Thursday, February 21, 2013
Why Perfectionists Hate Goal Setting
I tend toward being a perfectionist. It's a horrible and useless character flaw that does nothing but create continual discontent. Somehow I think there are a lot of triathlon readers out there that call themselves perfectionists, too. This post is for you.
The idea for this post started over a cup of coffee with another perfectionist. We were talking about goals and admitting to each other that we hate goal setting. Yes, we know it's important. No, we don't want to go through life acting without intention. But if that involves sitting down and goal setting, well......maybe tomorrow.
Perfectionists set the bar too high. That's what we do. We take a bar, put it up where we can't reach, then move it higher when (if) we get too close. No matter what we do we have failed to meet our own expectations. Well, what is goal setting? Reviewing what you have done already and then making new targets. Perfectionists don't want to review and face our demons, so that part sucks. And setting new goals is like taking off your clothes and sitting on a fire-ant hill - it's masochistic.
If I have to sit down and review what I did last year, I am going to be depressed and think I didn't do a damn thing. I am going to see all the things I didn't do and go sulk in the corner. Then I am going to create big hairy goals that I have no chance in hell of completing and begin feeling like a loser all over again.
Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I am happy I realized this about myself and that I have other crazy people like me to talk it over with. Now when I sit down to do my goals (my goals workbook has been waiting for me for 2 weeks), I will try extra hard to see what I have accomplished and how far I have come this year. I am gong to put every little thing I did on that list, from getting chickens to getting married. I will intentionally make this as long as possible to block the perfectionist in me from coming to the party. Then I will work on my goals for this year and I will SHOW THEM TO SOMEONE ELSE to prevent perfectionist goals from creeping in. If I decide that I want to land on the moon this year and also climb Mt. Everest, my goal setting partner will hopefully encourage me to pick just one of those.
We all need someone like that to balance us, even if we aren't perfectionists. Maybe you need a cheerleader or maybe you need some tough love. Maybe you have a friend who needs that, too! Why not recruit a friend to be your accountability partner? See if it can balance your perfectionism and help you set and achieve realistic goals this year. Checking in with someone once a week or once a month is certainly going to encourage a longer commitment to your goals than doing it on your own. And remember Rule #1 of goal setting: be good to yourself.