Imperfectionist Plans

The idea behind these imperfectionist plans is to balance experimentation with lasting change. The more you switch your behaviors around, the less they will stick. This presents an interesting challenge, because to become an imperfectionist does not require a single habit, but a number of different habits.

Here are some plans to consider. Like the solutions themselves, these plans are simple and that’s important. As a solution gets more complicated, it becomes harder to implement. I always look for the “minimum effective dose.”

The Weekly Carousel: Spend one week on each perfectionism subset (and one week on the general solutions), which will total six weeks. You can repeat the cycle again once you’ve finished or modify your plan depending on your results. This is a well-rounded introductory plan that will give you a taste of everything and enable you to attack your perfectionism from multiple angles. It’s nice in that it can give you firsthand experience of the varying principles needed to change.

The Focused Attack: Practice the solutions from one subset of choice until it is firmly ingrained as the new you (until it’s habit). This is ideal if you want to conquer a specific problem, such as ruminating too often. After you conquer one area, you can move to the next.

The Sampler: Pick and choose up to 4 solutions, and depending on their impact, swap them in and out with other solutions as desired. This is a DIY option and anything goes.

For your convenience and planning, here are the solutions again. Of course, for the full descriptions, you can reference the last chapter in the book. If you haven’t read the book, many of these won’t seem to make sense or will be incomplete.

Solutions Recap

General Perfectionism 

  1. Change what you care about action: For one minute each day, reflect on and imagine caring about what the imperfectionist care list describes.
  2. Imperfectionist process action: For one minute each day, consider the imperfectionist process in terms of your plans that day.

Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Adjust your expectations action: For one minute, check your expectations.
  2. Decide what’s “enough” action: This idea can be applied specifically or in general. In a specific perfectionism problem area, decide what will be enough for you today. Alternatively, you can generally decide that your life as it is now is enough (contentment).
  3. Lower the bar action: Create between one and four mini habits of your choice. Visit the Mini Habits websitefor ideas. Mini habits are imperfectionist by nature.
  4. Focus on the process action: Look at your day ahead, pick your most daunting challenge, and break it down into a process you can follow.

Rumination

  1. Accepting the past action: For one minute, reflect on the permanent, unchangeable nature of the past.
  2. Replacing rumination action: Take action directly against your rumination (preferably with a related mini habit).
  3. Understanding chance and failure action: If you’re ruminating about a negative outcome or mistake, take one minute to determine if it was because of a chance result or failure, and act accordingly.
  4. Change your self-talk action: If ruminating on a topic, remove “should have” from your mind and substitute “could have” in the sense of another possible option.
  5. Timer hacks action: At least once per day, use one of the listed timer hacks to spark yourself to action on a task that will directly improve or take your mind off of your rumination area(s).

Need for Approval

  1. Chemical confidence boost action: For two minutes before any situation requiring confidence, stand in a “power pose.”
  2. Faking confidence action: To make this specific and actionable, commit to act confidently (even if you feel otherwise) in at least one situation per day.
  3. Change your benchmark action: For any task that intimidates you or that you feel you don’t measure up to, lower your benchmark to something you know you can do.
  4. Rebellion action: Perform an act of rebellion against social norms or expectations once per day.

Concern over Mistakes

  1. Accomplishment journal action: Decide where to write your accomplishment journal (notepad, computer, cell phone) and write at least one thing you’ve accomplished (or a positive trait you have) once per day until you can’t think of any more.
  2. Binary mindset action: In an area that you fear making mistakes, create a binary perspective. Then go out and get the win!
  3. Easier success action: Make success easier than failure.
  4. Modular success action: When your day begins, don’t aim for success, aim for progress, and accept it in any size. Think about this idea for one minute per day.

Doubts about Actions

  1. Anti-projection action: When you’re doubtful of doing something and projecting negative scenarios, write them down in detail. Then experiment and compare it with reality.
  2. Faster decisions action: Practice faster decision-making using the “quick draw” method in the book.
  3. Outcome analysis action: For an action you’re doubting, run it through an analysis of best case, worst case, the likelihood of each, and the most likely outcome. It works best if you write it down.