Perfectionism and failure, how to escape the cycle?

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Fnord
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31 Jan 2021, 8:16 pm

theprisoner wrote:
Fnord wrote:
The fact that our bodies produce endorphins does not justify the use of manufactured Class-A pharmaceuticals.
The point is the fact that you carry DMT on you at all times technically makes you Class-A criminal.
Under whose law, yours?

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Jiheisho
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31 Jan 2021, 8:33 pm

NogginHeadFace wrote:
Jiheisho wrote:
You are a student. Why do you expect to excel? The point is to learn and develop the skills. And maybe that is your block--you are focusing on the results not the process. Focus on developing the skills. At the beginning, it is hard. There is so much to learn.

It is actually a bad sign if you give up because you can't succeed. That is going to limit you through your life. In my studies, I have sometimes repeated the assignment simply to develop the skills. Just because you have completed something, does not mean you have learnt something to the point of understanding. If it is hard, then push a bit more. The difficultly really represents how much you know.

Make your goal learning the skills, not the completion of an assignment.


An interesting take on what should be motivating me. So I should not be mainly motivated by results in of themselves, but rather by my subjective view on how valuable the skills I have learned are. I should be motivated by wanting to obtain more valuable skills.

I believe this technique is very applicable in hobbies. I have less belief on its success as the main source of motivation in a system that has definite objective markers as to my success or failure that will be less biased (and therefore less likely to be incorrect) than my own subjective opinion. By relying on results for motivation, I give myself a reliable point of reference to base my success off of.

I understand this is not meant to be a binary thing, that by focussing on developing skills over getting results, it should not entail that i should not aim to get results. However, I find I am much more efficient at achieving a goal if there is an objective system such that I can measure if I had/had not reached my goal. I am sorry if this appears dismissive of your comment, I merely think that I am not suited to either dismissing results or attempting to dual-wield motivation sources.


But what is the objective if you can't reach your goal? Right now, it seem you shut down. Not reaching your goal should indicate you don't have the skills. At that point, change your objective to learning skills. And the measure in both cases is the result. Skills are measured by the result.

You seem to be thinking that natural talent gets you to the result and if you "fail," then that is a reflection of your "talent." That is a fixed mindset and it not only is less creative, it is easily demotivated. (I recommend Carol Dweck's work on mindset, if you want to know more.)

I am not sure why you think a skill-based approach is subjective and biased. I did very well under a skill-based discipline. When I shifted to a knowledge-based discipline, I was really surprised how my colleagues could not solve problems. They simply gave up at the problem, giving excuses why it could not be done, or came to an inadequate solution by applying the wrong methodology to the wrong problem.

Now, you don't have to take the suggestion. But you also have no point of reference to say it won't work either.



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01 Feb 2021, 2:57 pm

NogginHeadFace wrote:
NaturalEntity wrote:
On thing that helps is to acknowledge that perfection doesn't exist. By all means strive to be the best you can be, but don't be afraid of failure. It's trying your hardest that counts.


Thank you for the reply.

I was unintentionally misleading when I used the term perfectionism. That would imply that I believed that there was some potential perfection out there waiting. I agree that true perfection is impossible (or rather, so improbable it is simply not worth thinking about). If I could rephrase my goal in terms of my studies, I would say my goal is to produce a level of work that was notably impressive relative to my peers. Once this goal is unattainable, my motivation disappears. It is at this moment that I struggle to motivate myself to be the best I can be. This exact struggle is what is at the core of my problem, why I made this post, and something that I would very much like if you were to explain how you overcome this hurdle/any ideas you have about it.

I also don't see how being afraid of failure in terms of academic studies is a bad thing. There are definite and lasting consequences of failing in academics, and so it is wise to avoid such failures. I agree this does not cover all of life, most social encounters are improved and enriched by taking actions which will come with a risk of failure, although this failure is perhaps of a different kind to what you were using. If you wish to expand on this, I would be happy to read what you meant by this, but it is alright if you cannot be bothered.

You're right. In some academic places, failure can have devastating consequences, especially with examinations. However, my school has always tried to teach us that failure is a learning opportunity, where we can see what went wrong and strive to improve that next time we try.
Comparing yourself to others only makes you miserable. I have a classmate who beats themselves up for getting one mark lower than me in a simple textbook exercise. I know that it's hard not to do - I do it sometimes too - but you need to remind yourself that your work is the best that you can do, even if it does not exceed that of your peers.


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NogginHeadFace
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01 Feb 2021, 5:21 pm

Jiheisho wrote:
NogginHeadFace wrote:
Jiheisho wrote:
You are a student. Why do you expect to excel? The point is to learn and develop the skills. And maybe that is your block--you are focusing on the results not the process. Focus on developing the skills. At the beginning, it is hard. There is so much to learn.

It is actually a bad sign if you give up because you can't succeed. That is going to limit you through your life. In my studies, I have sometimes repeated the assignment simply to develop the skills. Just because you have completed something, does not mean you have learnt something to the point of understanding. If it is hard, then push a bit more. The difficultly really represents how much you know.

Make your goal learning the skills, not the completion of an assignment.


An interesting take on what should be motivating me. So I should not be mainly motivated by results in of themselves, but rather by my subjective view on how valuable the skills I have learned are. I should be motivated by wanting to obtain more valuable skills.

I believe this technique is very applicable in hobbies. I have less belief on its success as the main source of motivation in a system that has definite objective markers as to my success or failure that will be less biased (and therefore less likely to be incorrect) than my own subjective opinion. By relying on results for motivation, I give myself a reliable point of reference to base my success off of.

I understand this is not meant to be a binary thing, that by focussing on developing skills over getting results, it should not entail that i should not aim to get results. However, I find I am much more efficient at achieving a goal if there is an objective system such that I can measure if I had/had not reached my goal. I am sorry if this appears dismissive of your comment, I merely think that I am not suited to either dismissing results or attempting to dual-wield motivation sources.


But what is the objective if you can't reach your goal? Right now, it seem you shut down. Not reaching your goal should indicate you don't have the skills. At that point, change your objective to learning skills. And the measure in both cases is the result. Skills are measured by the result.

You seem to be thinking that natural talent gets you to the result and if you "fail," then that is a reflection of your "talent." That is a fixed mindset and it not only is less creative, it is easily demotivated. (I recommend Carol Dweck's work on mindset, if you want to know more.)

I am not sure why you think a skill-based approach is subjective and biased. I did very well under a skill-based discipline. When I shifted to a knowledge-based discipline, I was really surprised how my colleagues could not solve problems. They simply gave up at the problem, giving excuses why it could not be done, or came to an inadequate solution by applying the wrong methodology to the wrong problem.

Now, you don't have to take the suggestion. But you also have no point of reference to say it won't work either.




In using the term perfectionism to describe my initial goals, I had hoped to give the impression that what I ordinarily aim for is unrealistic. It is not something from which success should be genuinely expected. That I will fail this goal is given.

I have described in the OP that once my original goal appears unobtainable I then simply focus on passing. This is the objective. And as for not having the skills to reach my goal, as I describe above, these goals are unrealistic. It should not be the case that I could possibly learn all the skills to match the goals. And yes, the obvious counter is 'why do you have those goals if you know you can't reach them', and this is a valid point. I guess this is part of the problem, I cannot offer a logical excuse as to why I make these daydreams. Perhaps I wish under starry skies for excellence in my domain in the same manner as a couple would wish to stay together forever. Both wishes made by the heart and not the brain.

I do not believe that natural talent will automatically gain a result. I got good results in school because I put a large amount of time into my studies, and part of the reason I was able to motivate myself to that level was because I believed I could do really well compared to my peers. I believe many people I knew in school gained similar/better marks as/than me in some subjects because they were naturally better than me in those subjects, but I was consistent in all my exams because I put in the time. I am largely annoyed at myself because I know I could do far better than I am currently doing in my subjects if I could tap back into the motivation I had when I was younger, which is why I want to fix my problems that largely base themselves around expectations and motivation.

I will explain why I think a skill-based approach is subjective and potentially biased, compared to results based. With results, your mark is your measure of success. It is a number, very objective. With skill-based, your measure of success is largely determined and marked by yourself, which makes it a subjective measure, and also susceptible to bias. I would also say that in a skill-based discipline, skills would == results and thus it becomes a results-based approach in the end. Or perhaps not. I do not know entirely what you mean by results/skill based disciplines so I may be missing the mark on that one.


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NogginHeadFace
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01 Feb 2021, 5:38 pm

NaturalEntity wrote:
NogginHeadFace wrote:
NaturalEntity wrote:
On thing that helps is to acknowledge that perfection doesn't exist. By all means strive to be the best you can be, but don't be afraid of failure. It's trying your hardest that counts.


Thank you for the reply.

I was unintentionally misleading when I used the term perfectionism. That would imply that I believed that there was some potential perfection out there waiting. I agree that true perfection is impossible (or rather, so improbable it is simply not worth thinking about). If I could rephrase my goal in terms of my studies, I would say my goal is to produce a level of work that was notably impressive relative to my peers. Once this goal is unattainable, my motivation disappears. It is at this moment that I struggle to motivate myself to be the best I can be. This exact struggle is what is at the core of my problem, why I made this post, and something that I would very much like if you were to explain how you overcome this hurdle/any ideas you have about it.

I also don't see how being afraid of failure in terms of academic studies is a bad thing. There are definite and lasting consequences of failing in academics, and so it is wise to avoid such failures. I agree this does not cover all of life, most social encounters are improved and enriched by taking actions which will come with a risk of failure, although this failure is perhaps of a different kind to what you were using. If you wish to expand on this, I would be happy to read what you meant by this, but it is alright if you cannot be bothered.

You're right. In some academic places, failure can have devastating consequences, especially with examinations. However, my school has always tried to teach us that failure is a learning opportunity, where we can see what went wrong and strive to improve that next time we try.
Comparing yourself to others only makes you miserable. I have a classmate who beats themselves up for getting one mark lower than me in a simple textbook exercise. I know that it's hard not to do - I do it sometimes too - but you need to remind yourself that your work is the best that you can do, even if it does not exceed that of your peers.



I will agree that comparing yourself to others is a road to misery.

I have the belief that if I try, I should be able to achieve success. I have a fairly distinct but flexible vision as to what that might be. When this image becomes distorted, my motivation for achieving the distortion is less than what it used to be for the original image.

I would say I am not directly comparing against my peers. I am more using any peers' results I would hear about as proxy for the greater understanding of my place in the scheme of success such that I can reach the goal in my head. Which I think has a distinction in that I do not care directly as to whether I am better than my peers or not, but I do care about what that means for my internal vision of success.


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NaturalEntity
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02 Feb 2021, 2:00 pm

NogginHeadFace wrote:
NaturalEntity wrote:
NogginHeadFace wrote:
NaturalEntity wrote:
On thing that helps is to acknowledge that perfection doesn't exist. By all means strive to be the best you can be, but don't be afraid of failure. It's trying your hardest that counts.


Thank you for the reply.

I was unintentionally misleading when I used the term perfectionism. That would imply that I believed that there was some potential perfection out there waiting. I agree that true perfection is impossible (or rather, so improbable it is simply not worth thinking about). If I could rephrase my goal in terms of my studies, I would say my goal is to produce a level of work that was notably impressive relative to my peers. Once this goal is unattainable, my motivation disappears. It is at this moment that I struggle to motivate myself to be the best I can be. This exact struggle is what is at the core of my problem, why I made this post, and something that I would very much like if you were to explain how you overcome this hurdle/any ideas you have about it.

I also don't see how being afraid of failure in terms of academic studies is a bad thing. There are definite and lasting consequences of failing in academics, and so it is wise to avoid such failures. I agree this does not cover all of life, most social encounters are improved and enriched by taking actions which will come with a risk of failure, although this failure is perhaps of a different kind to what you were using. If you wish to expand on this, I would be happy to read what you meant by this, but it is alright if you cannot be bothered.

You're right. In some academic places, failure can have devastating consequences, especially with examinations. However, my school has always tried to teach us that failure is a learning opportunity, where we can see what went wrong and strive to improve that next time we try.
Comparing yourself to others only makes you miserable. I have a classmate who beats themselves up for getting one mark lower than me in a simple textbook exercise. I know that it's hard not to do - I do it sometimes too - but you need to remind yourself that your work is the best that you can do, even if it does not exceed that of your peers.



I will agree that comparing yourself to others is a road to misery.

I have the belief that if I try, I should be able to achieve success. I have a fairly distinct but flexible vision as to what that might be. When this image becomes distorted, my motivation for achieving the distortion is less than what it used to be for the original image.

I would say I am not directly comparing against my peers. I am more using any peers' results I would hear about as proxy for the greater understanding of my place in the scheme of success such that I can reach the goal in my head. Which I think has a distinction in that I do not care directly as to whether I am better than my peers or not, but I do care about what that means for my internal vision of success.

Ah, I see. I feel the same way as you, but to a lesser extent. Even if your original vision becomes distorted or unattainable, you should strive to place as many pieces of your original vision into your final outcome as possible. It's what worked for me.


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violetdr3amer
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10 May 2021, 4:44 pm

I can 100% relate to this. I go through phases of being the same as you.

One thing that helps me is to ignore what/how everyone else is doing, only compare myself to myself and try to only compete against myself, I find that really helps. Another thing that helps is rewarding oneself - treat yourself to lunch, buy yourself little presents etc.