Perfectionism and the variables of life.

Life is unpredictable, we can only predict that this will always remain the case. So we need to manage our emotions when life doesn’t go according to plan. The planning stage of financial independence can make it seem like a simple course, choose your path, execute your plan and enjoy the journey. Except life doesn’t work like that, it does a brilliant job throwing all sorts at you from all directions. There needs to be room for adaptation and negotiation along the way.

I personally manage perfectionism, it is something I constantly have to work through. Sometimes I manage it well, others not so much, occasionally it’s catastrophic and I go backwards.

The method I saw some progress in is detailed below, so if you find yourself thinking ‘that’s me, I do that!’ or ‘I relate to wanting things to be perfect and I hate imperfection’, this may be of some use to you.

Recognise the negative, acknowledge it, re-frame it, focus on the positive.

We either win, or we learn. Paraphrased from an original Mandela quote.

Recognise

When things get tough, or don’t go exactly as planned, try and take a step back and see the problem from an onlooker’s view. Notice why events happen instead of getting caught up in the moment itself. This can allow for reflective thinking and introspection, also known as mindfulness.

Acknowledge

Admit the negative aspects happened ‘X didn’t go to plan’ or ‘Y happened, now I cannot reach my original goal’.

Re-frame

Understand that if these situations are out of your control, they were not a choice you made, therefore you are not to blame. If you can change the outcome, work towards adapting to be able to meet your goal. Learn from it. Think about the emotions you felt after the event. How did it feel? Begin to recognise the early signs of an emotional response.

Focus on the positive

If you tried, you achieved more (a lot more) than if you had not started. Occasionally things can turn out worse than you expected, or worse than when you began. In this scenario focus on learning from the experience. Why didn’t it go to plan? What can you do next time? What advice would you give to someone starting a similar thing? How can you improve the chances of a positive outcome next time?

This takes effort, time and resilience. Remember small steps add up over time to equal big changes. Managing your emotions effectively and building resilience is key to maintaining your sense of well-being.

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