Do you feel like you have to Get It Right the First Time?

I stared at the blank page in front of me, not knowing how to start.  I glanced at the clock for the 20th time in the last five minutes and heaved a sigh.

“This is never going to happen,” I thought.  “I don’t know how to write about this idea…how do I get the message across…what if nobody likes it…”

As my mind was flooded with unhelpful thoughts, I made one of my classic moves – I stood up and walked away from my desk.  I wandered into the kitchen and found myself standing in front of the open fridge thinking that this feeling I had was hunger.

I snapped out of my trance and closed the fridge door.

“You’re not hungry,” I said gently to myself.  “You’re scared of not getting it right on your first try.”

Ah… that old, familiar story!

Does this ever happen to you?

You start to write the novel, bake the cake, put paint on the canvas, knit the sweater, refinish the antique dresser and the next thing you are aware of is that you’ve been scrolling through social media for an hour, or you’ve just watched 5 episodes of a show you don’t even like or you are half way through scouring the grout between the tiles in the bathroom.  You’ll do anything but the one thing your heart truly desires for you to do …

….because what if it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to turn out?  What if you have to do it three or four or a hundred times before you have an end product that is pleasing?  What if the imaginary judgement committee is clucking their tongues as if to say everyone else did it right on the first try…
Many of us absorbed the message that if we didn’t get something right on the first try, we would get in trouble, be judged as bad or stupid or that we had wasted valuable time and/or resources (remember having to pass tests in school on your first try?).  It was rare that any of us were taught to enjoy the process of learning, to simply try stuff to try it, not to get it right.  This unconscious pressure to get it right quickly and on the first try leads to constant self criticism, anxiety and depression. 

When you start to feel the pressure of ‘getting it right’ maybe remind yourself that you are not in the fifth grade anymore and that if you make a mistake, nothing bad is going to happen.  The majority of activities that we engage in are not life or death situations and making mistakes or doing several edits or having to start over forty-five times will not be the end of your life as you know it, but it will absolutely require gentleness and compassion.  There is a part of you that is most likely scared or worried about some imaginary consequences to not ‘getting it right’ and reassuring that part of you that it’s safe now will go a long way to helping you put down the ice cream spoon and pick up the paintbrush!

Let February remind you to turn some love, gentleness and compassion towards yourself so that you can stop worrying about getting it right and get back to the joy of trying whatever you want!


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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