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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Planning without planning.

There was a time (fine, whatever, most of my life) when I didn’t prepare for things. At all. I didn’t see the point.

Thinking about whatever was approaching was stressful, and the dreaded doom of doom was going to happen anyway. Why bother. Avoidance mouse!

Then there was the period of over-preparing.

About eight years ago, I had the Shiva Nata induced epiphany that I am, in fact, a perfectionist.

This surprised no one, other than myself.

Me: Ohmygod I’m a perfectionist. A perfectionist! How is that even possible.
All my friends: Yawn. Bored. Tell us something we don’t know.
Me: What are you talking about? I have seriously done nothing but sit on a couch and drink beer for the last decade. And you know that, because you were there. You brought the beer! And when I’m not at work behind the bar, I’m sitting at the bar or we’re here.
All my friends: But it was always obvious that you only do nothing because of the paralyzing fear that doing something might involve not getting it right.
Me: I hate you all, you perceptive sons of bitches.

Actually, I called them sons of whores because that’s how you say it in Hebrew. But the rest is pretty much how it happened.

Anyway. They were right.

So I decided to claim it.

I decided that I did want to make stuff happen. I wanted out of this life-run-by-fear experience. To be a full-time writer and yoga and Shiva Nata teacher instead of just thinking about it.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t really know what to do with that, so I figured I had to make peace with the perfectionism.

And proceeded to just over-plan the hell out of everything.

Because hey, perfectionism kind of made sense. Until then it didn’t again.

Then we went back to under-preparing.

Because teaching was so much fun.

And it was always more fun if you had no idea what was going to happen.

The surprises! The exploration! The epiphanies!

It was good, but there was still something missing and the pendulum swung back around.

I’ll spare you the rest of the history of the perfectionism-procrastination roller-coaster and ensuing shivanautical understandings. Fast forwarding to how I do things now.

How I do things now involves lots of prep time, but no planning at all.

What I’m preparing is the situation in which I am most in my me-ness, and least in my stuff.

Messing around with the video game, adjusting my invisible crown, connecting to Slightly Future Me and finding out what I need to feel comfortable in any given interaction.

Yesterday I had two meetings. Another one today. Highly unusual. And, according to the Book of Me, that’s probably too many.

But here’s what I did to intentionally prepare-while-not-preparing.

I didn’t go over what I would say or what I would do if X happened or if Y didn’t happen. Instead, I asked a bunch of questions and then scribbled answers:

1. What does this remind me of?

Am I going into past experiences of meetings or uncomfortable interactions?

Am I accidentally getting triggered into thinking this is going to be like that one traumatic altercation from then? Or like stressful family meetings of doom?

Are there parts of me that are not stuck back then and feeling tense? What do they need?

2. How is now not then?

If I keep getting pulled into that situation or a certain unsuccessful encounter, what’s different now?

What do I know now that I didn’t know then? What accumulated experience, resources and insights are available to me now?

How is my situation now a completely different thing than whatever it is I’m worried about repeating?

3. What qualities do I want to bring to this encounter?

Courage. Love. Sovereignty. Possibility.

And clear, strong, powerful, flexible, loving, healthy boundaries.

And I want to be able to be really present for this, without imagining what might be going on.

Thanks to Hiro for reminding me to ask this question, which is the best question ever, and for the lesson that I don’t have to do anything to embody the qualities I’m asking for other than remember them.

4. What do I want?

Oh! I want help maintaining clear vision. Staying connected to myself.

To stand unapologetically in what I want, without pushing.

To remember that there is a simple solution that is good for everyone involved. Possibly even many solutions.

5. What do we have in common?

Ten things. This is the extremely useful and in-need-of-a-new-name thing that I call the Alignment Exercise.

See: PTSD and Encroachers, both unpleasant and awkward conversations, and phone call dread.

6. And how will this experience help me in the future?

What is now teaching me about next time?

How am I setting things up to be less crappy and more supportive for Future Me?

7. Without having to appreciate this situation, what might be useful about it?

If this is a turning point — which who knows, it could be, theoretically — what is the useful thing that results from me being here in this situation now?

8. What might help this encounter be less agonizing more harmonious?

I can read the letter of reminders that lives in my Teaching Anthology.

I can write a Very Personal Ad to get clearer on what I want.

Even if I’m not clear on the desired outcome, I can recognize the feeling. That’s a start.

So here we are.

It’s definitely a lot of preparing. But it’s a different kind of preparing.

Curiosity-driven, not anxiety-driven. Figuring out what needs to change in my kingdom, and not what needs to change in other people. This is new.

And mostly, the point of this internal preparation time is to support me so when the meeting is over, I’m not analyzing it and second-guessing it to death.

It’s putting in the time beforehand so that the experience itself is smoother.

I like it. Anxious Me gets the comfort of structure without needing to control things. And Screw-it-all Me gets the freedom to allow for surprising possibilities, without the disaster scenario monsters running wild.

And comment zen for today.

Oh, I would love to know if anyone else hangs out on the perfectionism-avoidance rollercoasters.

And ways you’re rewriting or thinking about “preparation” (hmmm, still not loving the word, maybe we need metaphor mouse?), to be supportive and not stressful.

And I would like sparklepoints for having survived a day of meetings unscathed. Sparklepoints! I’ll share!

As always, we all have our stuff and we’re all working on our stuff. No advice, just love.


42 Responses to Planning without planning.

  1. Rose
    Twitter: celestialrose

    i think this is going on my wall – those questions are just what i need to prepare for my presentations and even to get me to sit down and stay still for ten seconds.
    This would be one of those favourite posts i think everyone should read :)

    Thanks for sharing it.

  2. mari says:

    Hoo boy. Wanting to stand unapologetically in what I want, without pushing. That’s an actual possibility? Oh. I did not know that.

  3. Char Brooks
    Twitter: Charsfirststep

    adding sparklepoints to your way of doing things and learning from you. . . in ways i can’t put words on.

    thank you for this.

  4. R says:

    I thought I was the only one on the Perfectionism-Avoidance Rollercoaster! This reminds me of how I did a ritual this past weekend, I was prepared but I didn’t write everything out like I usually do when I’m control-freaking. Then I had this dream that my art could be like that ritual, that I didn’t have to know everything beforehand, I could just be prepared and find the pieces that did show up and go from there.

    Maybe this will help me with my avoidance of my parents and my fear that they will poke me with sharp questions and my fear that I can’t control it/them so I don’t go see them.


  5. Lisa Roberts
    Twitter: lisamariedesign

    Many sparklepoints to you!!! I relate to the complete surprise of figuring out that I’m a perfectionist. I really thought that berating myself for not doing things I thought I should meant that I was a slacker, not a perfectionist. Wrong-o. These days I’m dropping things all around me, old stories, hewa (hay-wah, means overdoing), and yes, sometimes even planning. Although, I’m still fuzzy about how to tell the difference between a direct download of important universal info, and control freak list making/planning? Still, today I’m liking the journey…probably because I don’t have any meetings scheduled. Rah rah! :D

  6. Leni says:

    I spend far too much time on the roller coaster. I’m on it right now. And once i actually start doing things, i become engaged and it’s all good.

    It’s leaping into the action from paralysis–leaping off the roller coaster! that sounds very dangerous!!–that takes that lil drop extra of courage. Ways to remember that extra drop would be good.

  7. Gadgetgirl says:

    Oh, perfect timing for this post. I am quite familiar as well with the Perfectionism-Avoidance Rollercoaster. In fact, I have a stack of textbooks sitting right next to me that I’m trying to avoid due to my fear that my syllabus will not be perfect. I am going to print this post out and start asking myself these questions so that I can finally start drafting this syllabus.

    Sparklepoints to you!

  8. kim
    Twitter: avoidingkim

    that is a LOT of meetings. major sparklepoints for surviving!

    you should probably know that i also shower you with sparklepoints almost every time i hear/see/feel someone use the term “lazy”. because, after reading (but not finishing, because that just isn’t me….) the procrastination dissolve-o-matic i know for a FACT that “lazy” is not even a *thing*. mostly it is just a shitty, judgmental word.

    what a huge, monumental relief to be able to shift my perception of myself from “lazy” to other less-shitty-sounding things. i was also completely shocked to realize that i am a perfectionist,followed by complete shock that i would even be surprised by this realization because, well, DUH.

    “lazy” doesn’t get you through something like law school. perfectionism gets you through it and then tells you that you still suck because you weren’t number 1 in your class (you were in the top 10%, but so what) and you didn’t go to a “top-tier” law school and you hated every minute of it so it really “doesn’t count”.

    “perfectionism” sounds better than “lazy”, but i question how super-helpful perfectionism has been for me and whether i really want to embrace it at all.

    i’ve just talked myself in a circle and am confused. i think i’m saying lazy isn’t a *thing* and “perfectionism” isn’t (for me) a good thing.

    oh, and yes, i go through the unpredictable “plan the shit out of everything” and “la de da!” phases. there seems to be no rhyme or reason. perhaps i should look at this….


  9. becky says:

    extra sparklepoints for being a great big mirror today. I’m a lifetime rider on this rollercoaster. I assumed it was most pre-massive add/adhd wave overacheivers that grew up in the 80’s. They had a sitcom about a girl like that in the 90s called Wonderfalls, but fox promptly canceled it (probably because all of us watching were avoiding the reality of the character!)

    and in true form, I’m going to NOT do anything about it for the time being. not yet.

  10. Julie
    Twitter: jjlogs

    OMG I have a VIP pass on the perfectionism/avoidance rollercoaster. This makes so much sense to me.

    If I screw it up by not preparing then I don’t have to be disappointed when things don’t come out perfectly. There’s no choking when you don’t try. But then I get sick of feeling stressed over every little thing because there was no preparation or maintenance on things I had already prepared. I have a lot of processing to do on this idea. Thank you for posting this!! :)

  11. eydie
    Twitter: eydie.wattsgmail.com

    OMG–this morning at 2am I finally hit “send” on a letter and email I’ve been writing for TWO WEEKS! This post is perfect timing…

    My newly discovered mechanism for the perfection/avoidance cycle came with

    1) my cousin observing that there are “high achievers” and “low achievers” and neither one is better than the other. I reframe it to “high tangible output” and “high non-tangible output” .
    2) As a “high non-tangible output” person, I realize I spend a lot of time in the “void” which is where “stuff” doesn’t get done–which is a good thing for me because it enables me to do what I do best.
    3) Writing takes me a long time and that’s okay so there’s no avoidance
    4) Every day I do “just one thing” (apart from teaching or meetings) which has actually increased my tangible output and keeps me from running around in my head like a crazed chicken…I love chickens BTW.

    Sparklepoints all around….

  12. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    @Rose – yay. I need a wall chart too!

    @mari – crazy, right?

    @Char – thanks sweetie!

    @R – I love your dream. Beautiful. I feel so peaceful reading about it.

    @Lisa – hewa hewa hewa. Thank you for that word.

    @Leni – totally. How terrifying. We definitely need to re-metaphor that so there’s no leaping and no roller-coasters. Hmmm. :)

    @Gadgetgirl – awesome. I hadn’t even thought of using these questions for preparing for a Thing, but of course. That’s perfect. Straight to the Book of Me to make a note.

    @kim – yes to everything you said! :)

    @becky – right on. I will join you in the not doing yet.

    @Julie – VIP Pass! VIP Pass! Yes.

  13. flip says:

    Yes, I agree a fave post. I have only recently realised/owned up to the slacker/perfectionist duality, by realising where my perfectionism shows up. Things like filing. I am not comfortable with imperfect filing. But things don’t fit neatly in all the boxes. Durn imperfect world, it’s a tricky place for a perfectionist.

  14. eydie
    Twitter: eydie.wattsgmail.com

    Arrgh…my twitter handle is not my gmail address.

  15. Jennifer
    Twitter: unchartedworlds

    Ooo that is so wise. I vote for this post being one of the ones on the big list of favourite excellent useful posts!

  16. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    About ten years ago I borrowed a book called Procrastinate Later… Never did get around to finishing it, or (to reference yesterdays post) doing any of the exercises…

    I am too hilarious. In a sad kind of way…

    Yep, because ESPECIALLY when it comes to self work does my mighty perfectionist streak kick in…

    I don’t even know what direction my makey-creative outlet might be in thanks to the wonderfully helpful and encouraging commentary I would receive like “James Joyce could write a better sentence than that”, “pfffft you know the naivist artists could actually draw and then chose not to right?”, “uneven, too big, mistake, too small, mistake, mistake”….

    Oh forget it!! Just go and watch telly and let my anxiety continue to rise but so much less CONSCIOUSLY! Pheeewww!!!

    (PS I am older now and have actually read some Joyce so my owning-the-anti-impenetrable-art opinions have changed a little, also I know that he took FOREVER to write stuff and was really tortured etc… I use this example because, at the age of fifteen, it was one of the first and clearest moments I realise that maybe I was a leeeeetle hard on myself…..)

    As for self-work (yoga, shiva nata, journalling, asking myself useful questions, doing exercises from books (or blogs!), unless it’s in multiple choice format, I reeeeallly struggle.

    Elements of loving it so much that I can’t bring myself to do just five minutes, or put down my notebook and come back to it, or give it less than what I deem it ‘deserves’…..

    That is my favourite procrastination trick there. I am ignoring the shit out of what you said BECAUSE I RESPECT YOU SO MUCH!!

    I definitely know the rollercoaster… I think this comment has more to do with yesterday’s post than today’s but becuase this is a safe place to make a mistake I am going to put someone else at the head of the V and submit anyway even though Helpful Critic is screeching like mad….. (eeeep!!)

  17. Holly
    Twitter: HollyMarieHill

    Yes. This post. Exactly.

    I mean, why bother doing anything unless you’re going to do it exactly correctly? There are days when something as simple as loading the dishwasher is completely beyond me, because I have to get them arranged in exactly the right way, and pre-wash the ones that “need” to be, and really those shouldn’t go in the dishwasher at all, and and and… dirty dishes on the counter for weeks until we run out of things to eat off, and just can’t stand eating out again.

    And then it’s, what the hell is wrong with me, other people don’t have these problems, I seriously must be the laziest person on the face of the planet. And since my dad & sister are the more traditional model of perfectionist (Type A hard-driving get-more-done-in-an-afternoon-then-I-do-in-a-month) they don’t believe me when I say that I am a perfectionist too. Sigh.

    Maybe I should just get this post tattooed on my forehead? But first I have to pick the perfect font, and make sure I always have access to a mirror so I can read it, and I should get it done in stages, and and and… ;)

  18. Jadelyn says:

    Omg that conversation! I had almost that exact conversation with friends and family when I did a workshop on personality and found out I’m apparently a Type A. I was like, “Holy shit, really?” And everyone who knew me was like “Well, yeah. How are you just now figuring this out?” >.<

    Anyway. Super-mega-sparklepoints for surviving many meetings! And yes, so much yes to finding a middle ground between planning-to-doom and seat-of-the-pants-flying. Letting my days be "whatever strikes my fancy gets done" left me doing very little or nothing, but "a weekly rotation of scheduled tasks" left me drowning in shoulds and avoiding everything. I'm trying to find the space between now. I'm fairly sure it involves gwishes. ^_^

  19. jilliankay says:

    “Me: I hate you all, you perceptive sons of bitches.”

    This made me laugh SO HARD. Mostly because it is soooo true. :-)

    I tend to avoid anything that I don’t know how to do. Because I’m afraid that I’ll never figure it out. Or, more accurately, I’m afraid to find out that I’m not smart-enough-good-enough-fast-enough-talented-enough-liked-enough.

    Eventually, I’ll just do it. By myself. All of a sudden, one day. Mainly due to obligation, a kick of courage, and/or a sugar high. And suddenly? “Oh! Evidently I’m capable of that.”

    That was precisely the process for such little things as: public speaking, building my own computer, wedding photography, moving cross country alone, or buying large pieces of furniture and figuring out how to get them upstairs (alone).

    Sometimes I’ll cram on the preparation, sometimes not at all. And that usually depends on whether I can prepare in secret, without anyone knowing in case I decide to chicken out.

    It’s that little mental hurdle, a tiny little boolean switch that has to go from FALSE to TRUE. It’s kinda a form of perfectionism – it’s difficult for me try things if I think I have a high probability of permanent failure.

    I’m not worried about finding out that it will be hard or that I’ll have to try several times or that I’ll have to learn or not be perfect. I have a dread fear of finding out what the ceiling is on my potential. Which, of course, keeps me from finding out just how much potential I actually have.

  20. fairbetty
    Twitter: fairbetty

    “it was always obvious that you only do nothing because of the paralyzing fear that doing something might involve not getting it right”

    This is so me… bummer…

  21. Mara Rose
    Twitter: Mararose10

    OMG! You have NO idea… Cosmic timing here, BTW. Love it :-).

  22. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    “…that I don’t have to do anything to embody the qualities I’m asking for other than remember them.”

    Ohhh, thank you, Hiro, and thank you, Havi, for passing that wisdom along! The days when I can remember that, and believe it — those are good days.

    One of my little snarky remarks about myself is, “But I can’t be a perfectionist! I’m nowhere near perfect!”

    Avoidance mouse. Yep, yep, yep. I know how to be avoidance mouse. I do it very well. And then it gets hard to come out of my hidey-hole. I would love to get better and better at doing it gently, without the feeling that I’m having to push myself — which is, of course, one of the many reasons I love hanging out here, absorbing and reflecting. Because there is so much permission here, and so much kindness.

    I have a lot of stuff around planning and preparation issues — over-preparing, under-preparing, and the anxious and often impossible-seeming hunger to feel ready before having to do a scary thing. It comes up for me a lot. I’m grateful for this post, which I’ll be re-visiting often, I suspect.

    And then! Minutes after reading this post, I stumbled across this quote from Marianne Williamson: “Fear, being the absence of love, is a call for love.” Click! Meeting my fear with love — meeting the fear of others with love, with sovereignty and love, instead of allowing their fears to infect me — yes. That’s something I want.

    Wow. I am a rambling river and a babbling brook today!

    Anyway, a gazillion sparklepoints to you, Havi, and to everyone else who wants them. And that includes me, of course. I’ve been quite brave today, on a number of fronts. Sparklepoints!

  23. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Nice quote @Kathleen… Writing that one down…

  24. Miss P.
    Twitter: chemieemma

    @Claire P “or give it less than what I deem it ‘deserves’…..” Oh I sooooo get that. It’s my approach to everything important.

    I have so much stuff around perfectionism: I was in an amateur theatre group for seven years that was full of perfectionists that would drive each other to the brink of burnout and each time once the show was over we would all agree not to do it again… Then there was my family that continually rewarded perfectionism and my best friends mom who continually made me into the shining example to show her perfectionist daughter how lazy she was. Working on a project that I knew could never be perfect caused the break down, which is good because I now get to work on my patterns, but yeah, the pain is not so fun.

    I’ll copy the questions down too, to answer each time I start a new project, which is kind of like a meeting too, even if it is just you and the project.

    Ten thousand Sparklepoints to you, havi, and much love :)

  25. Caroline
    Twitter: Cazzylina

    Climbing Frame!

    It’s a structure, it has form and stability and lots and lots of space and flexibility. Everyone playing on it gets to choose whether to stick a leg through that hole, or try and get their head through this one, whether to clamber round in spirals or race to the top, whether to play on the swing in the middle or just dangle upside down from one of the cross-bars.

    OK, now the jumping up and down has subsided, I’ll go back and read the comments. Most likely someone has metaphormoused a better thing, but the climbing frame idea was demanding voice. Whee!

  26. Caroline
    Twitter: Cazzylina

    AHA! I espy a stealthed monster… in the bit about “someone has metaphormoused a better thing”. It’s that one that says someone everyone else is better at doing A Thing so why even bother trying.

    Sparklepoints for meetings and monster observations and everyone getting all excited and sharing energy. I want to bake cakes with glitter on now.

  27. judy says:

    I’ll never forget the moment when I realized that my inner critic was the strongest voice in my mind AND that I’d been trusting it all these years. Ping!

    The voice was so relentless made my body so tight inside that the sometimes the only choice was to collapse, avoid, and pretend that I was loosey goosey, “went with the flow,” just to get away from it. I thought that meant I was lazy, spacey , but certainly NOT a perfectionist.
    Other times I tried to satisfy it and worked non-stop and then I even felt proud of my perfectionism, finally NOT lazy: but, as we all have said, it’s never enough.

    The confusing part is that although this pattern is soooo uncomfortable, the outside world (many work places and family) gave me props for my self-negating behavior.And, I became addicted to the anxiety, because I thought it meant that I was about to finally succeed – yow.

    The glimmer of hope that there is another way to “be” that has a feeling of freedom and ease is what keeps me going. The questions are awesome and I will use them as I venture into this next series of big changes that are coming. As I ask them, I look for a body sense of what the answers are for me. This process helps me recognize whether I am “intellectualizing” my answer, or knowing it in my whole self.

    Thanks Havi

  28. Anna Barnett
    Twitter: annabarnett

    Brilliant. Brilliant!

    I have the perfectionism-avoidance thing.

    I was just thinking yesterday that my preparation process for auditions does not do a good job of making auditions more fun. Because of all the tight little perfectionism loops. Winging it would feel more creative.

    I so want to try this. Now I just need to convince the urgency department that there’s enough time…

  29. Melissa says:

    This is totally me too! I do great with deadlines though because they give me a reason to go – oh forget it. It has to be good enough the way it is. And you know what, usually what I think is super-rotten, needs a million hours of work to make it presentable does pretty good on it’s own. So I’m like a slacker perfectionist procrastinator.

  30. Caroline aka Sweet Louise
    Twitter: sweetlouisekc

    I’m printing this list of questions for myself! What a great way to explore the possibilities of a situation and maximizing authenticity while minimizing anxiety! Wonderful!

    I’m often a slacker perfectionist, opting to not do b/c it won’t be perfect.

    Two things that have really helped me:

    “I can do anything for 15 min.” A principle borrowed from Flylady.com

    And from a book called “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamont – “Start the $hitty First Draft. (SFD)” Even if it’s utterly awful – START.

    Giving myself permission to work on what ever IT is for only 15 minutes and for it to be a SFD has meant that things actually *gasp* get started…and finished.

    I love your list, and it’ll be a great way to spend 15 minutes getting rolling on or re-evaluating a project!

  31. Dave
    Twitter: asmallfield

    “Me: I hate you all, you perceptive sons of bitches.”

    That little bit made my whole day!

  32. mere
    Twitter: meredevachon

    Your posts always seem to come at just the right time for me. Although as I’ve been on the perfectionist-avoidance rollercoaster pretty much my whole life, I guess any time is the right time, huh? Thank you for this.

    I probably wouldn’t have commented (too comfortable being a lurker mouse!) but today’s Rose is Rose comic strip seemed like such a Havi & Selma/Playground/Fluent Self message I wanted to share: http://comics.com/rose_is_rose/2011-03-23/

  33. Dawn says:

    Hm, being surprised by being a perfectionist — who knew so many birds of a feather?

    I like what you say here: “What I’m preparing is the situation in which I am most in my me-ness, and least in my stuff.” I know that if I just relax and be in my me-ness, the control freakery will slip away. I have no idea if that’s what you’re saying here, but it resonated for me.

    It’s occurred to me recently how many expectations I place on myself. It’s absurd. I know you’ve talked a lot about “shoulds” here, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how many I insist upon. I really just want to give myself a break without feeling like a slouch.

  34. Walter Hawn says:

    I just discovered this truth about myself a couple of days ago as I contemplated that other people never do things (as well as) (the way) I would do them.

    As I ruminated, this thought occurred:

    “I don’t do things because I probably won’t do them as well as I would if I were the one doing them.”

    And it made sense. Now, what do I do with it?


  35. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    Oh my goodness @Walter, YES that makes perfect sense!

    I may not have started the renovation/garden/journal/project/filing/whatever that I’ve been wanting to do for aaaaages… But dammit if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it PROPERLY!!

    Of course ‘properly’ requires a level of skill, time, money, knowledge, andandand… The elusive state of ‘enoughness’. Especially for things that really mean a lot to me.

    Much safer to use up all my time, energy and other resources on washing the dishes ‘properly’ (every tine of every fork), folding the washing ‘properly’ (down the midline, then crossways by three, not to mention sock sorting…). Things I feel confident that I can do ‘properly’…..

    Errrgh the rollercoaster…

  36. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel


    I am definitely a perfectionist. And I don’t think I do avoidance TOO much, but I definitely struggle with finding the right level of planning and preparation. This is especially hard because, of course, you can’t really plan too much in advance. You don’t know what will happen in the future.

    I think that I like the idea of preparing and not planning. I’ve given birth twice, and I found that making preparations was helpful. Giving birth is kind of a Big Deal. But you also can’t really plan it, it just happens when it happens, in its own way. So for me, that may hold an answer for the rest of life, and dealing with my own desire for Total Control.

  37. Cal Dunn
    Twitter: drownedforest

    I’m such a perfectionist it’s taken me three days to write this comment because it was NEVER GOOD ENOUGH to post.


    Sparklepoints for anyone who’s still reading this thread! Hey, at least late comments mean more sparklepoints.

    (And thank you, Havi, for linking to your Encroachers post – I hadn’t seen it before and it was exactly what I needed to read.)

  38. claire
    Twitter: claireofRA

    Oh yeah, all over the perfectionism-avoidance rollercoasters.

    Actually just wrote a bit about my relationship to preparation, i.e. the permission I’ve started giving myself to do completely superficial ridiculous things that do nonetheless put me more at ease. Because if it helps, why wouldn’t I do it, right?
    claire recently posted… Permission

  39. Ilana says:

    Thank you, Synchonicity. This post. Exactly when it was needed.

    Definitely perfectionist-avoider. Avoiding is such good protection from failing.

    International trip to a Big City. Meetings with strangers. Have lots of responsibility thrust upon me. Feel that it must be perfect. Comparing myself to the top of the top. Cannot avoid.

    So I had a mini-anxiety attack that I talked myself out of. I imagined myself being capable, professional, hilarious and charming (g-d forbid I should “visualize the outcome” – ick!). And I imagined myself having a good time. I also reminded myself that afterwards I’m going to think about what happened and realize that it was better than I could have possibly expected. Because the truth is that I have everything I need to be an amazing success, I just keep forgetting that I do.

    And then you said “planning without planning” and I said, yeah, that’s exactly what I’m doing. And, you know, what? It’s going to be OK.

  40. Tilla
    Twitter: TheBestBitYet

    Hooray, hooray for the questions. I was going to an event on Saturday and I so didn’t want to go. And I knew that my values made it important that I did. So, I took your wonderful questions to the shower with me – stuck them on the outside of the cubicle so I could read them whilst lashings of hot water did their stuff.

    Great move! I found out lots of things this reminded me of and all about how I’ve changed and grown since that time. I went, I stayed with me, I remembered what and who was important and I came home. Made re-connections with people who mattered and found out who didn’t matter any more.

    Job done! Thank you for creating such a wonderful framework.

  41. Cindy Morefield
    Twitter: CindyMorefield

    Preparation instead of planning. I love this so much, and so excited to experiment with it. Thanks, Havi!

    @eydie: “high non-tangible output” is brilliant. Right there withyou.
    Cindy Morefield recently posted… a word for 2011

  42. […] But a large part of this is not about now. […]

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