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‘Tis the season for resolution-making – and resolution-breaking. Many resolutions fail out of the starting gate, despite earnest desires for change. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 2 sure ways your resolutions will fail – and how to beat them.
1) Not Planning for Failure.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You resolve not to eat any more doughnuts. On January 3rd, you walk past the Krispy Kreme display at the store, and find yourself leaving the store with a box, telling yourself you’re only going to eat one. After the first one disappears, you realize you broke your rule – and only three days in. You feel guilty. Since you already broke the rule, you think “what’s the use, I might as well eat the rest of the box.”
This is called the abstinence violation effect. You decide to make any kind of self-imposed change. But then when you slip up, you experience a one-two punch of guilt, followed by a loss of control that results in further damage. You don’t make the desired change.
Slipups happen. It’s part of the process of change. And they should be planned for!
When making a resolution, also make a game plan for what exactly you’ll do when you mess up.
Okay, so you know you’re going to cave and eat a doughnut at some point. Then what? Have a game plan for bouncing back. Maybe if you eat the doughnut, you call a predetermined friend who will go out walking with you the next day, for a combo calorie-burning/pep-talk conversation.
This applies to business resolutions too. Maybe this year you want to become a master of off-camera flash. But you know your first images are going to be discouragingly awful. Predetermined remedy? You’ll spend time looking at the best in your portfolio to reassure yourself of your potential, and then try again the next day. The path to your goal must include a plan for coming back from mistakes.
2) Believing that everything you do can and should be flawless.
Perfectionism can drive success, but perfectionism can also be a mask for laziness. “If it’s not going to be perfect, I won’t do it at all.” So you don’t do anything. And inaction snowballs.
Left unchecked, perfectionism leads to lower productivity. You end up thinking “Oh, I’m not going to take out my speedlites today. All the images will be crap anyway, I won’t use them until I know I’ll be good.” This all-or-nothing type thinking leads to…..nothing.
We should try to improve ourselves, and never accept shoddy work. But unrealistic perfectionism can cause us to remain mired in insignificant details, isolating ourselves from others for fear of putting imperfect work out into the world.
Repeat to yourself: “DONE is better than perfect.”
I have that on a sticky note on my computer screen. It’s been my mantra for over a month now, and I’ll tell you – it’s been a fabulously productive month.
Strive for excellence – but not to the point of ridiculousness. Yes your client packaging should be stunning – but do you really need to hand-sew cloth bags for the albums and hand-make every thank you card? No! Increase your prices, buy premade packaging that suits your standards and tastes, and stun your clients with your superfast turnaround instead.
Yes, your first off-camera flash images will be less than awesome. But perfection in craft is only attained by slogging through a whole lotta “imperfect” first. You’re not going to wake up one day a master – embrace your errors, learn, and bounce back from them quickly.
Yes it would be nice to hand-write letters to your grandma and college roommate on a regular basis. But if they never hear from you at all because you never find the time to find the right stationary? It’s much better to send an email.
Let go of perfect and embrace completed. Don’t berate yourself for not being flawless, congratulate yourself on being productive!
It’s a new year, a time for fresh goals and new starts. Let’s all take a deep breath and make our lives and businesses what we want them to be! And while we’re at it, let’s make a plan for bouncing back from slipups and not allow perfectionism to keep us from accomplishing things.
Here’s to a happy and successful 2012!
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