Perfectionism plagues most people on a daily basis. For example, a lot of us place a heavy emphasis on making the “right” decision to avoid being wrong. Making that “right” decision even appears in the mundane moments of our daily lives, be it selecting that right photo of the million identical photos in our library before posting it, finding that right movie on Netflix, checking online reviews for that right restaurant, etc. And what’s funny is we invest so much time in making that right decision that we may not ever end up posting that picture, watching that movie or visiting that restaurant due to feeling frustrated, exhausted or just postponing it for another day. And collecting information on a topic is great, I’m all here for it, but I’m addressing the issue of continually researching and analyzing due to fear of making the “wrong” choice. In other words, paralysis by analysis.
You can view your choices as having consequences or opportunities. And yes, all choices have consequences, but I use the word opportunity to create a contrast for the negative connotations associated with the word consequence. In this case, I use the word opportunity in the sense that it is a positive consequence. Most importantly, how you view an outcome is completely up to you. What if there is more than one “right” answer, or dare I say, what if there is no “right” answer? Life is not this linear equation that exists within the binary of right or wrong. We as people change, careers change, situations change — and there is nothing wrong about that. We may hesitate on a decision due to gathering more information to avoid making a mistake — such as ending up in a major or industry that we absolutely hate — but if you hate it you can change it, meaning you can redirect yourself toward a new goal, view it as a lesson and do better next time, and however else you can twist a “mistake” into something positive. There may be a lot of pressure on you to get it right, but trust that you will as long as you keep trying while giving yourself time. Keep gathering information, but at some point we all have to be willing to learn from taking action instead of always being right. One of my favorite quotes is: “Successful people don’t make the right decisions, they make their decisions right.” So alleviate yourself of making the right decision, take action today and focus more on making the best of your decisions.
Ideas to keep in mind:
- Get over yourself. Being right all the time feels good to the ego, but doesn’t represent a mindset that is strong or mature enough to grow. Be brave enough to be challenged and come back even stronger.
- No shame. Alternatively, being wrong or making a mistake hurts the ego and some people may try to make it worse by shaming you. You cannot let the opinions of others have that much of an influence over how you view yourself and your journey. Learn to self-affirm. People that usually shame others are weak and need to create emotional hierarchy in order to position themselves as above to aid their insecurities. And some people just suck. You don’t have to be like them, live your life.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to know all of the answers at once. Asking for help can be scary, but you miss every shot you don’t take.
- Learn stress management. Meditate, do yoga, learn kickboxing, journal, run, make art, do something that relaxes/comforts you. If you’re open to guidance in this area, then UNC Charlotte’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services offers a variety of workshops on stress management. Failing (though I prefer to say learning) takes a lot of emotional stability, and you can’t flake out after a few losses (or lessons). Get knocked down and get back up.
Definitely give the University Career Center a visit for assistance in effectively gathering information and resources related to your current interests. The career center offers a variety of assessments that aid in self-awareness which helps finding majors/careers that are best suited for you. And if you already consider yourself highly self-aware, then great, the UCC will assist you in understanding the process of actualizing your goals. Schedule a few appointments with an advisor to assist you in taking effective action.