How to Build Discipline and Overcome Perfectionism

If you ever find yourself in a state of uncertainty or hesitation before taking action, remember that done is better than perfect. If you think about it, everything doesn’t always go according to plan. There are pieces of your business, your work, your skillset, or your health that aren’t where you expected them to be. So the question is not, “What do you do when things don’t go according to plan?” but rather, “What do you do when life happens?”

“Done is always better than perfect”: focus on taking action

Let’s say you are trying a new workout plan. Statistically, the majority of people stick to the plan for the first six weeks and then give up. Do you know how to get in shape? Chances are, you do. So it’s not a know-how problem. There aren’t a million ways one can get into shape. There’s one way: to keep doing the same thing over and over again. 

When things don’t go as planned, maybe it’s because you got burned out from this specific workout plan or because you are not seeing the desired results. Then what happens is that you start doubting yourself. But the doubt is really an excuse for us not to go through the period of discipline that’s required to learn a new habit. Discipline, or the ability to stay tough in hard times is the key to success. It’s about doing boring things on repeat, despite the fact that they’re boring.

How to build discipline and overcome perfectionism

A lot of people think that discipline is about doing something repeatedly. But when you are doing something repetitively, adversity will naturally come. Self-discipline is the key to success. Talent gets you started, but discipline gets you to the next level. So the important thing is to maintain discipline while learning what you have committed to learning. When things don’t go as planned, the question is whether you are going to stay attached to the important stuff through the period of adversity. 

Write down a list of the biggest adversities you’ve encountered. On the left side, write the adversity, and on the right side, draw an arrow and explain why this adversity needed to happen. Let’s say you are running a business, and something has slowed you down. Maybe this adversity occurred because it had to teach you how to become a better leader.  

“Done is better than perfect”: Overcoming the perfectionism trap 

Building discipline is challenging because social media constantly brainwashes us into thinking we should seek short-term gratification. But we only get to see people’s highlights on social media. We don’t have access to the quiet moments when they did all the hard stuff. We have to detach ourselves from the altered reality that social media tries to present as real. That’s part of building “reference experiences.” Let’s say you are going through a workout plan and you have taken consistent action in the process. By being consistent and disciplined, you take control of your life and build reference experiences that you can then apply to all areas of your life. 

Remember: 

  • When you are trying to learn a new habit or skill and you fail, it’s not because you lack know-how. It’s because you lack discipline. 
  • When you are trying to achieve something, adversity will naturally come. How will you cope with the adversity?
  • It all comes down to whether you will stay focused on the important things during adversity.
  • Applying consistency and discipline in one area of your life allows you to create reference experiences that you can then apply to other areas of your life.

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