How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise

Notes & HighlightsEdit

Brief Summary

This book breaks down the symptoms of perfectionism, how practising being imperfect improves happiness, increases productivity and solves indecisiveness.

Why I Read This Book

As many of you know I’m currently creating ArchiRhino which is a course for architecture students who want to learn how to use Rhino in university and practice. After successfully compeleting few trial videos I decided to give myself a break, gather some feedback, before continuing filming more footage. Surprise surprise a week went by and I couldn’t make myself start. I didn’t even want to think about work and couldn’t figure out what was the cause until I read this book. Perfectionism.

My Top Aha Moments

If you truly believe that you’re worse than other people, it only makes sense to act like a threatened puffer fish (intimidate) or turtle (hide).

If you are a perfectionist of the paralysed sort, it’s almost guaranteed that you watch a lot of TV. Perfectionist and procrastinators love TV because nobody watches TV incorrectly. Its a mistake-free win.

If you are not confident in an area or in general, ask yourself, “Where is my benchmark set?”

Those who are overdriven struggle the most with unrealistic expectations and rumination. Those who are paralysed struggle the most with concern over mistakes and doubts about actions.


  1. 🟨 Nearly everyone is unknowingly trained to be perfectionists by copying the goal size of the people around them.
  2. 🟨 The less you think of yourself, the more likely you are to overcompensate.
  3. 🟨 The more we want something, the more afraid we are not to get it.
  4. 🟨 Perfectionists tend to be overdriven or paralysed and sometimes both.
  5. 🟨 It’s best to begin where things are, not where you wish they were.
  6. 🟨 Most people are perfectionists.
  7. 🟨 If your perfectionist mindset makes you want to procrastinate and escape your life, TV is going to be hard to resist.
  8. 🟨 Perfectionism, not lack of ideas is the one only cause of writers block.
  9. 🟨 A relaxed mind is more effective and useful than a test mind because to can focus more easily.
  10. 🟨 The road to excellence begins unimpressively.
  11. 🟨 It’s possible to be motivated to write a book but not be motivated to write in your book. Your general reason might be motivating but the moment-by-moment motivation varies greatly.
  12. 🟨 Care less about timing care more about the task.
  13. 🟨 When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.
  14. 🟨 Perfectionism frequently leads to people being depressed.
  15. 🟨 It’s best to have high general expectations (for confidence) and low specific expectations (for resilience and confidence).
  16. 🟨 “Never enough” comes with anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness. “Not quite enough” comes with eagerness, excitement and hope.
  17. 🟨 Whatever you want to do in life lower the bar for doing it.
  18. 🟨 Anything you do habitually is not a special occasion.
  19. 🟨 Rumination is a form of perfectionism in which a person focuses obsessively on their problems and/or the events that caused them.
  20. 🟨 Confident people don’t ask permission.
  21. 🟨 Perfectionists strive for their ideal image, which makes any and all success seem like trash.
  22. 🟨 One problem people have with perfectionism is that they like the idea of perfection.
  23. 🟨 Projection is the primary reason why people have doubts about actions.

Actionable Implemantation

  1. Focus on benchmark adjustment.

Everything can become overwhelming when you have a big goal or task. Lowering your expectations of a result will help you increase productivity because you no longer need to meet the unrealistic future expectation. This doesn’t mean that you lower your standards but the opposite, you become relaxed because you focus on the micro tasks each day with out thinking about the overwhelming standards you held yourself accountable. Setting a lower benchmark means that you are happy doing 1 push up a day because that is a success for you now. Eventually you 1 push up will turn into 30 as it becomes easier and you can adjust your benchmark each time you hit a micro goal.

2. Create binary tasks to simplify your objective.

The point of binary tasks is to turn the focus from how well you’ve done a task to if the task is done and not. An example of a binary task is flipping a switch and turning on the light. You cannot do the task incorrectly thereby you can measure the task in whether you done it (1) or you didn’t (0).

If I do it = 1
If I don’t it = 0

The same thing can be applied to every goal you want to accomplish. When you measure you success to whether you done it or not you end up appreciating your work, skills and the fact that you tried doing a task. If your goal is to do 1 push up a day and you measure your success whether you done it (1) or not (0) suddenly you can accomplish a goal perfectly.

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