Before we go into ways not to let perfectionism hamper your 2020 goals, let’s discuss resolutions themselves. There are New Year’s Resolutions and there are New Decade Resolutions. Luckily, we’ve hit both this year.

There appears to be a consensus overall that the new decade is a chance for regeneration (for The Doctor, that’s all the time!). Why not? There’s some discussion on whether “resolutions” is the best way to describe changes for self-improvement; the word resolution sounds strict and unforgiving. Strict and unforgiving are two words that any life coach can tell you, stunt your progress. In many cases, New Year’s resolutions last for the first few weeks and fade away as we return to old ways. They also alert us to the fact that we rely on the turn of the new year to grow – why not whenever the need arises?

So we’ll call them goals and that’ll be that. They can start when they need to start and they can adhere to SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). That’s right, we take things seriously at Cleopatras Worldwide. Having a structure in place not only ensures you don’t meander, but it also trains your brain to think, ‘Right, this is serious stuff. No giving up as soon as February’s around the corner.’

But what happens when you hit The Wall?

Zap! Your motivation’s gone. Energy and life-zest have departed you. Well, that’s no good for your New Year Goals. Some luckier souls will have no problem with this and accept this slump. Others, not so much. Frustration mounts those who have perfectionist tendencies (*raises hand*) because you’re just not meeting the timeframe.

That’s all it is: a timeframe. It’s not a contract which you’re legally bound to, nor will someone swoop down to snatch and shake you. The only one who’ll do that to you is you. You are your punisher.

Perhaps the reason your goals aren’t running smoothly is that your heart’s not in it. Many people are victims of trends. If people around you are indulging in New Year’s resolutions, you’re going to feel compelled to do the same. Compulsion and will are two opponents. You have to want the change yourself for it to work. Half-heartedness won’t fuel you to accomplish your objectives.

So, with that in mind, let’s explore ways not to let perfectionism hamper your 2020 goals:

  • Give some lee-way when planning SMART. There’s no use jam-packing your schedule until there are no more white spaces. Know your limits and understand that you’ll need some downtime. No buts!
  • When you hit The Wall, open up your camping chair and sit down. Wait it out. Do something else. As I write this, I’m aware I’m not following my own advice because I’m ignoring the burning headache from bashing my head against The Wall repeatedly. I’m refusing to change lanes and come back when my Mojo returns. I should know better.
  • Don’t be rigid. Adjust your SMART plan. This is related to the previous point. Things crop up and at some point, you’ll have to abandon what you’re doing to deal with them. Perfectionism, however, will pour poisoned honey in your ear about how you were doing so well and surely those things can wait. None of this is conducive to healthy planning and self-management. Again, I speak from experience.
  • Acknowledge that you’re going to get it wrong. As much as we hate to accept anything other than Wonder Woman badassery, we’re going to mess up on our road to aspiration completion.
  • Take a nap. What? I’m serious. Naps sound like a waste of time, but if your energy’s heading towards danger levels, it’s better to listen to the siren. You wouldn’t block a fire lorry on the road with your car, you would recognise the alert and react accordingly. Dramatic metaphor aside, burnout isn’t pretty so listen to your body and rest when you need to. You’re going to slow down your progress if you try to push through exhaustion.
  • Reward yourself whenever you reach a target. It sounds juvenile, but giving yourself little acknowledgements such as stickers, encouraging messages, brief shopping trips (if you’re not on a budget. If you are, stay away from Paperchase. Don’t do it). Don’t write this off as childish; if stickers or chocolate make you feel good about meeting targets, you’ll feel compelled to keep going. Even the tiniest of tiny accomplishments deserve recognition – don’t let the current zeitgeist tell you otherwise.
  • Accept that mistakes might work in your favour. When I was 15, I was typing up my essay on The Crucible (allegories and symbolism, woo!) for GCSE English. I was using the family laptop and everything seemed fine. I was on a roll so saving the latest chunk was the least of my concern. Well, knowing my luck, the family laptop decided to die on me and didn’t auto save my essay. Swept up in a concoction of panic, indignation and determination, I channelled this into typing furiously. Lo and behold, my essay got a high A, which I suspect wouldn’t have been the case with the lost essay. My point is: sometimes mistakes can lead us to something else/something better. Sometimes we need mistakes to stimulate epiphanies. High standards prevent us from recognising this, which is why perfectionism is a hindrance.

I’m not saying perfectionism should be eradicated. There are some benefits. It drives you to succeed, provides focus and ensures good to exceptional quality. The problem arises when it dominates your thinking, then your way of life. Too many people are falling prey to burnout and mental health struggles because of the pressures both put upon them and self-imposed.

So don’t let perfectionism hamper your 2020 goals. Listen to your body, trust your gut, and prosper!