How to overcome perfectionism and stop worrying about "getting it right"

Raise your hand if you’re a perfectionist! And... all the hands go up at Yop & Tom HQ. We’ve been learning how to overcome perfectionism for years. Read on to discover what we’ve learnt and how you can stop worrying about “getting it right”.

Woman's hand flicking through blue journal

Perfectionism is sometimes celebrated as an accomplishment… we see it as a strength and something to be proud of. But the pressure is exhausting.

It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Perfectionism squashes your self-esteem. It makes it harder and harder to get back up. And even harder to try again.

But imagine if everything came out perfect the first time around... we’d never have films, books, songs, art and all the other creations that inspire us every day.

Every story is a tale of ups and downs, successes and “failures”. And learning is a natural part of the creative process.

After all, when was the last time the first version of something went on to be an instant hit?

How to deal with perfectionism when you’re worried about “getting it right”

When people are new to bullet journaling they often ask us, “how do I get it right?”. But the beauty of bullet journaling is that there is no right way of doing it, there’s only your way.

Whatever new task you’re trying, you’re going to need to learn how to deal with perfectionism. Whether it’s a hobby, a skill, a language or your studies, it’s okay to learn as you go. The chances of doing everything perfectly? They’re slim.

Instead, we need to switch up our approach. Rather than placing all your emphasis on the result, consider how you can enjoy the process. After all, that’s the longest part!

Journaling prompt:when you prepare to start something new, instead of asking yourself “how do I get it right?” try asking “how can I enjoy the learning process?”. Write yourself a list of steps you can take to do this, from celebrating every little milestone to teaming up with a friend to learn together.

Next time you find that you’re berating yourself for not doing things perfectly, check your list. Refocus your mind on enjoying the process instead.

How to overcome perfectionism when you make mistakes

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon and you’re planning out the week in your dot grid journal… the page is looking pristine, clean and colourful as you get everything in order. Until you realise you’ve made a typo and your heart drops. You immediately start critiquing yourself and your “bad handwriting”. Just like that, the sunny mood is over.

We’ve all been there.

But a few mistakes doesn’t have to mean that your bullet journaling session was a waste of time. If we wanted perfect pages, we’d type out the words on a computer.

You’ve chosen creativity and freedom. So how can you harness that freedom, even when it feels like things are going wrong?

You turn it into something to celebrate.

Overcome perfectionism and reframe those “errors” into creative quirks…

  • Turn a typo into a doodle
  • Celebrate your messy handwriting with creative fonts and original pen colours
  • Add extra illustrations to your page to distract from what went wrong
  • Layer another drawing on top of those that didn’t come out as you planned
  • Create a series of sketches, showing the evolution from the original that didn’t go as you intended

Creations are rarely “perfect” the first time. That dot grid journal you’re writing in? That’s our seventh version.

Yep, that’s right. There have been seven different versions of the journals you know and love.

We launched the best possible journal. And then… we listened to you. We asked you what you loved. What you’d change. What you thought. And we acted on those suggestions to make it even better.

They weren’t big drastic changes...

  • Slightly thicker paper
  • Lighter dots
  • Better lay-flat binding
  • A crisper whiter page

But those small changes add up. They matter.

Don’t let perfectionism stand in the way of creating something new.

Open Yop & Tom Dot Grid Journal with Grid Guide

What to do when perfectionism and anxiety stop you from starting

The online world can be an incredible place. It can inspire us, lift us up and motivate us to create. But when you’re not so creative or are falling into the trap of perfectionism?

It can be a tough place to be. Especially when you’re comparing your first attempt to someone else’s fiftieth.

Jae nearly missed out on all bullet journaling has to offer, after that perfectionism trap almost got too big... 

“Bullet journaling is something that I’ve always had an interest in but I was also sometimes intimidated by. While scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest I would see such beautiful spreads created by wonderful artists.

I sometimes felt that I lacked the artistic ability to create such stunning spreads. It wasn’t until I found the studygram community when I realized that I did not have to be an artist to start a bullet journal.”

@planwithjae

When that happens, there’s one big thing to remember. Something that may help keep your perfectionism and anxiety at bay… you don’t know what’s happening behind their screen either.

They might have created the most beautiful bullet journal spread you’ve ever seen. But they may also be struggling behind the scenes.

They might be struggling with the things you’re naturally good at - sports, organisation, academia… there’s a whole lot happening behind those little squares that you don’t get to see.

And if it gets too much… unfollow. Even if you know somebody in real life, you’re still allowed to unfollow them if they’re impacting your mental health.

Journaling prompt: write out a list of all the things you’re good at. If you’re struggling, ask around. Ask your friends, family and colleagues, and get as many as you can down into your journal. Then, write down how you can celebrate them. Because one of the best ways to overcome perfectionism is to celebrate your strengths (even the NHS, in the UK says so).

Whatever happens, know that it’s not a failure. You are not a failure. It takes time to overcome perfectionism but you can do it. We’re rooting for you.

Find a safe space to journal out your thoughts (and allow yourself to make mistakes)

Let’s overcome perfectionism, together

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