Perfectionism, Impatience, and Anxiety

I am anxious.

I have been quite anxious for the past three days.

Interestingly, I had been doing very well for several weeks, even months, prior to this bout of anxiety. Right now I am doing all I can to keep it from progressing to depression and so far I have succeeded, although the worry remains.

I have some theories as to why my anxiety started. At first, I could not fathom why my anxiety would suddenly appear (this is a classic symptom of emotional brain disconnect from rational brain). As hard as it is to admit it, though, I have come to believe it came because of my desire to start this blog.

My Goals Stressed Me Out

Ever since getting the idea last week to write this blog, I have been so excited to write that I feel quite resentful I don’t have more time to write. And when everyday tasks got in the way of writing, I became stressed and anxious.

Initially, I began with a goal to write two posts every morning before work. So, every morning I would do my best to get up early and get out the door to get some writing done. Despite my fervent efforts, I didn’t manage to even get one post out per day. I had placed all this pressure on myself and then became deflated. It is now apparent that my goal was too ambitious, leading to stress and anxiety.

Perhaps after some blogging practice and establishing a good writing routine, two posts a day may not be so far-fetched, but trying to write two posts a day from the beginning is like trying to sprint out of the gate when you’re just starting a marathon.

This is a classic case of:

  1. Setting my aim too high
  2. Stressing when I don’t reach my goals, and
  3. Getting down on myself for it.

Just because blogging stressed me out doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it, or that blogging is bad for me (I may have thought this if I jumped to conclusions too quickly), but it just means that I was placing too much pressure on myself and expecting too much. Perfectionism is an old old habit of mine I am trying to get rid of.

The Real Cause of My Stress and Anxiety

My real problem is a lack of patience.  I want this blog, and I want it NOW. I don’t want to wait for months to develop a blog. I want it now: looking nice, with lots of traffic, and some comments from people letting me know it’s helping them. The bottom line is, I am not having patience in the journey. My impatience to have a developed blog is the very reason I set such high expectations in the first place. But setting unreasonable expectations for myself actually tripped me up and sabotaged my goals.

So how do I reconcile this? I want something, and I am willing to work for it. But I really don’t want to wait for it.

I will contemplate patience, and try to figure out how I can provide myself with a more measured pace.

About Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS

Nicholas Hundley is a nutritional biochemist and certified nutrition specialist. He is the main author for the MindWhale blog at MindWhale.com. He practices nutrition and can be found at NicholasHundley.com

4 thoughts on “Perfectionism, Impatience, and Anxiety”

  1. Yup that sounds like me. I realized that I suffer from perfectionism as well. Ja!
    I like to set very high goals for myself and then when I don’t reach them on time I get depressed and anxious and frustrated. So what could the source of the problem be? My perfectionism or lack of patience?
    I was at the store today with a friend of mine. She was shopping for wedding stuff. I wanted her to get what she wanted, ASAP. I noticed my self thinking “take what you want and lets pay and go!” I don’t know why I’m in such a hurry to get things done. I give my self too little time to do things or I set time on every task and look at the watch all the time. I think I got all this from my dad..

    Anyways, thinking about what you just wrote that the source of the problem is impatience, I’m starting to think that you are right.

    I set goals that are too high for myself too, I spend all this effort trying to reach my goal that I forget to enjoy the journey to reach them.
    Once I have reached the goal, I get depressed and lose my sense of direction and set new goals.. never really savor the sweet victory of accomplishing my goals.

    I’m glad I read you post. Just have me a good goal to truly work at: INCREASE MY PATIENCE.

    • I like your insight about enjoying the journey to reach goals. That might be the real the key to patience, because whenever I’m impatient it’s because I believe the present moment isn’t good enough. I’m starting to learn that the present moment is good enough, and in fact it’s only my perception of the present moment that is causing discomfort and anxiety, and not the circumstances themselves.

      In fact this reminds me of Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is. I am almost done reading it, and it is very pertinent to this topic of patience and loving the present moment. It has been quite transformational for me, and I am planning on writing my thoughts about it when I get the time.

      I wish you luck on finding more patience! I think I am progressing steadily. I have a lot going on right now (a baby on the way any day) and I am making it a point not to pressure myself about other goals like blogging! haha. Thanks for the comment. I hope to hear from you again.

  2. I feel the same way as you do, and now feel that I don’t have the time to complete this comment to your blog.

    My inner voice is screaming at me “You don’t have time to do this”, when taking the time to complete this comment is one small step toward my goal of cultivating patience.

Leave a Comment