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Podcast Profile: The Academic Imperfectionist

podcast imageTwitter: @AcademicImp@rebecca_roache
83 episodes
2020 to present
Average episode: 18 minutes
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Categories: Life Philosophy • Monologue (Non-Course)

Podcaster's summary: The Academic Imperfectionist combines philosophical analysis and coaching insights to help you dump perfectionism and flourish on your own terms. Your host is Dr Rebecca Roache, a coach and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of London.

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List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:08 UTC. Episodes: 83. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2024-Apr-05 • 23 minutes
#83: How to be happy
No, not like that. I'm not talking about how to achieve the ultimate happiness, eudaimonia, or enlightenment. I'm simply talking about how to enjoy your down-time without feeling like you're doing it wrong. If you've ever looked forward to a well-deserved day off and then settled down for some serious relaxation only to find yourself consumed by anxiety about whether you're enjoying yourself enough, this episode is for you.References:Diener, E., Sandvik, E., and Pavot, W. 2009: &apo...
2024-Mar-22 • 20 minutes
#82: Stop policing yourself
How well do you know yourself? Are there feelings that you have, or things that you care about, that you're in complete denial about? Trust me, there probably are - you just haven't noticed. And it's a problem, because until you can acknowledge the things that make you happy (or unhappy) and the things you care about, you can't even begin to build the life you want. Get the kettle on and join your Imperfectionist chum for some self-policing troubleshooting.
2024-Mar-08 • 19 minutes
#81: Are you trying to live a final draft life?
Are you hesitant to make certain changes in your life, like changing careers or ending a relationship, because you don't want the time and energy you've invested in your life so far to be wasted? If so, you're not alone - but you're wrong. Recognising that aspects of your life aren't working for you doesn't mean your efforts have been wasted. Your life isn't an essay draft, where bad choices and wrong turns get cut from the final draft. You're holding yourself back, a...
2024-Feb-23 • 16 minutes
#80: What are you so afraid of?
When you're procrastinating, reluctant to knuckle down and get on with your work, taking way too long to do what ought to be a straightforward task, do you respond with self-compassion and non-judgmental curiosity as you try to work out what the problem is? Thought not. Instead, you tell yourself that you're lazy and disorganised and shouldn't even have been allowed to graduate from primary school, don't you? There's a problem with that, though. You might think you're holding y...
2024-Feb-09 • 28 minutes
#79: My imperfect but adequate working day
I keep getting asked what my working day looks like. You know, as if I've cracked this whole productivity thing. I definitely haven't, but I have managed to make positive changes over the past few years as a result of making the sorts of changes I talk about on this podcast. Let me tell you about how it's all gone - not so that you can do things the way I do them (please don't!), but so you can see that change really is possible. Oh, and I'm also going to tell you about Simba, our c...
2024-Jan-26 • 25 minutes
#78: Fix your self-compassion with the metaphysics of personal identity (and an Aeropress)
Your problem with self-compassion: the one that leads you to be kind and supportive to other people, but nasty and vindictive to yourself. One reason you struggle with the 'self' part of 'self-compassion' is that you view yourself as separate from other people. But what if you aren't? What if the gap between you and others is simply too small and inconsequential to support your difficult-to-shake belief that it's wrong to be nasty to people, unless the person you're being ...
2024-Jan-12 • 17 minutes
#77: Mediocrity is underrated!
Here we are, a third of the way through January. Have you slipped up on your new year resolutions yet? Will you be kind to yourself if you do? Or will you tell yourself that you're a failure, you can't do anything right, you should just do everyone a favour and give up now? The thing is, friend, there's a dark side to positive change. Too many of us are motivated to change for the better because we don't think we're acceptable as we are. We don't feel entitled to ease back and ...
2023-Dec-08 • 23 minutes
#76: This is what positive change feels like
Are you a sucker for self-improvement advice that offers to overhaul your life for the better overnight, even though you know that (unfortunately) it's not that simple? Yeah, same. There's a reason you're attracted to advice like that, and there's a way to get the life you want. It's not instant or magic or even wall-to-wall rewarding, but it is possible, and it is worth doing. Pull up a virtual chair, and let The Academic Imperfectionist explain all.
2023-Nov-24 • 19 minutes
#75: Your progress tunnel vision
Yeah, I know you're diligently working towards that big goal, and that you STILL haven't got there yet. But are you stopping to reflect on your progress along the way, and to celebrate small wins? If the answer is no, then you're sabotaging yourself, chipping away at your motivation, and generally making yourself miserable. Progress tunnel vision can keep you stuck in a loop - but here's the Academic Imperfectionist with a lifeline!For the Progress Temperature Check exercise, go here. Go...
2023-Nov-10 • 17 minutes
#74: When taking on more can energise you
I know. Your life needs an overhaul, but where are you supposed to find the energy to fix it? You're struggling to keep your head above water as it is. The thing is, friend, not all demands on you are equal. The demands that are imposed on you by others exhaust you and send your anxiety skyrocketing - but those that you choose autonomously can energise you. Autonomy is important: just ask Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Isaiah Berlin, and Harry Frankfurt. How do you choose autonomously? I'm glad ...
2023-Oct-27 • 18 minutes
#73: How to practise being instead of doing
Look at you there, always striving, always becoming, always hustling. When do you ever get to pause and just ... be? Do you even know how? Plenty of us don't. We had no problem just chilling and enjoying the moment when we were kids, but somewhere along the way, we lost that ability. We don't know how to enjoy life any more. In which case, what's the point of any of this? Put your existential angst on ice, friend, because The Academic Imperfectionist has you covered.Go here (and thank you!) i...
2023-Oct-13 • 19 minutes
#72: Bend so you don't break: a stress survival guide
Just as trees aren't meant to remain stiff and unyielding in the face of a storm, you aren't meant to remain efficient and relaxed in the face of mounting demands. Bending isn't a weakness; it's what you need to do to survive. But it's only your branches that need to bend - your roots need to stay put. Do you know what your roots are? Snuggle up with a cuppa for some arboreal advice from The Academic Imperfectionist.For the 'Identify Your Core Values' exercise mentioned in...
2023-Sep-29 • 21 minutes
#71: The best time to write is the worst time to write
Do you tell yourself that if only you had a day of uninterrupted time ahead of you (and, of course, the right stationery), you'd finally be able to get some writing done - only to procrastinate your precious writing time away when you do finally get what you need? Thought so. Your problem is that you wouldn't know a good writing opportunity even if it walked up to you and poked you in the eye. Put down that stationery catalogue and let your Imperfectionist friend sort you out.
2023-Sep-15 • 29 minutes
#70: How to write
Writing is why we all do what we do - or at least, a big part of it. But it's also a source of intense anxiety, whether we're new to it or whether we've been at it for years. So, here's another start-of-the-new-academic-year imperfectionist special for you. Your imperfect pal here set out to create a little survival guide for new students who want to get their essay-writing off to a good start - but along the way, it turns out that there are plenty of lessons about writing that are usefu...
2023-Sep-01 • 29 minutes
#69: How to read
Do you ever try to read philosophy (or some other stodgy not-designed-for-entertainment text) and find yourself struggling to understand ... well, any of it? Do you finish reading a paragraph and find that you have absolutely no idea what it was about? Does it take you an entire day just to read one chapter? Of course not - you'd never admit to any of it, anyway. Even five-year-olds can read, so there's no way anyone's blowing the lid off your shameful reading troubles. But don't worry....
2023-Aug-18 • 18 minutes
#68: Plato (and Barbie) on perfection
If you won't accept anything less than perfection from yourself, I have some disappointing news from Ancient Greece. Back in the 4th (ish) century BC, Plato was telling anyone who would listen that perfection doesn't even exist in the material world - so, save your energy and lower your standards. Get the kettle on and then gather round to learn what this means for you, from Plato, Socrates, and ... erm, the Barbie movie.Here's the monologue by American Ferrera (as Gloria) in Barbie:'It ...
2023-Aug-04 • 18 minutes
#67: You owe your success to your flaws
I get it: you want to be less of a perfectionist, more confident and assertive, less of a procrastinator, and all the rest of it. These, after all, are things that hold us back - or so we often think. As it happens, though, things are more complicated than that. Those same traits that stand in your way are the same ones that have enabled you to achieve awesome things. Is there a way to get the 'awesome things' bit without the 'stand in your way' bit? Well, put up a chair, chum - the Acad...
2023-Jul-21 • 21 minutes
#66: The only productivity hack you need
We all love a bit of productivity porn. What could be wrong with learning about how to get better at getting things done? Well, quite a few things, as it happens. Seeking out the latest productivity tools and techniques can be a way to mask the anxieties you have around your work. To avoid the pitfalls, you need to look inward and think about how you go about getting stuff done. Gather round, friends, and let's dive in.
2023-Jul-07 • 19 minutes
#65: Reflections on a recent failure
We all hate failure. We're terrified of it. And so, when I chalked up a big fat failure a few days ago, I knew immediately that I needed to dissect it for you lot. The key lesson here? Our unwillingness to look failure square in the face is holding us back. Read Costica Bradatan's Psyche essay about Emil Cioran here.
2023-Jun-23 • 17 minutes
#64: Reject work/life balance!
We're constantly encouraged to strive for work/life balance. But it's a horrible, victim-blaming, damaging metaphor, and it tricks us into thinking we should take on more than we're able to cope with. And, besides, who wants to spend their entire career balancing stuff?! Your Imperfectionist friend is here with some truth bombs about how you ought to be thinking about how to manage all that stuff you have going on, and how you can view it all in a way that makes it easier to find and enforce ...
2023-Jun-09 • 17 minutes
#63: In defence of your comfort zone
You know that remaining in your comfort zone is basically a psychic crime, right? Like, only losers do that. Successful people are out there pushing boundaries and loving life. Bummer that, by definition, they have to spend their entire time in discomfort, but whatever. Who needs comfort when you've got self-actualisation?Sorry pals, but this is all daft nonsense. Join your Imperfectionist friend for some truth bombs about comfort zones and a guilt-free pass to tossing that stick that you've been ...
2023-May-26 • 16 minutes
#62: Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!
Whatever it is that you're doing and however it is that you're doing it, you're telling yourself that you're doing it wrong and anyway you ought to be doing something else instead. Right? You feel guilty even when you know you're doing the right thing. You feel guilty even before you've decided what you have to feel guilty about. Your entire mind is an immersive, surround-sound, interactive theatre of turbo-charged guilt. Take a break from your hectic schedule of self-flagellat...
2023-May-12 • 21 minutes
#61: Your productivity standards are like a 1980s fad diet
You know better than to vow, after chomping your way through your fifth slice of chocolate cake, that starting tomorrow you're only ever going to eat salad and you're going to run 10 miles before breakfast every single day, forever. After all, nobody could keep that up, right? Be realistic! But plenty of you are setting your sights on productivity goals that are just as unrealistic. Come for a chat with your imperfectionist friend and have some sense lovingly knocked into you.
2023-Apr-28 • 17 minutes
#60: Self-acceptance or self-improvement?
Self-acceptance is overrated, right? I mean, sure, you might feel more at peace if you could manage to accept yourself - but there's so much wrong with you, and accepting yourself would involve giving up on trying to fix all that and accepting that you're never going to be any more assertive, successful, skilled, and confident than you are now. Self-acceptance is just a fancy term for quitting. Right??Oh dear. What if I were to tell you that if you don't already have self-acceptance, you&apos...
2023-Apr-14 • 22 minutes
#59: Hold your nose and do the scary thing
It would be great if we never felt insecure or anxious or scared when we had to do things like ask for money or refuse a request or even just get on with writing what we're supposed to be writing. But this sort of discomfort can be really hard to shift, no matter how much we work on our confidence and how many affirmations we scribble on post-it notes and stick to our monitor. It can be tempting, then, to think that we need to put off doing the hard things until we've got a few more years of thera...
2023-Mar-31 • 20 minutes
#58: When you're doing everything everywhere all at once
You're trying to hold down your job/studies while raising your child/pet/houseplants and maybe also doing a couple of part-time jobs but also volunteering for a handful of committees/projects/whatever. There aren't enough hours in the day to do all this well, or even adequately. How do you avoid feeling like a complete failure? Well, friends, obviously you need to drop the committee and stuff. And then you need to rethink what the problem is here (spoiler: it's not you) and what really matter...
2023-Mar-17 • 21 minutes
#57: Understanding your productivity shame
It's bad enough that you're nowhere near as productive as you ought to be (according to you) - but, to make things worse, you can't ever get any help with this problem, because that would involve fessing up to the shameful truth that you are a terrible human being who doesn't work as hard as they ought to work and therefore deserves to be shunned from civilised society forever. Is there any way out of this hellish situation without revealing your villainous nature? Don't worry, frie...
2023-Mar-03 • 19 minutes
#56: You're not weak-willed, according to Socrates
Your weakness of will is one of your inner critic's favourite topics. She can go on for days about how weak-willed you are. But, did you know that, over the centuries, philosophers have had a tough time making any coherent sense of the idea of weakness of will - and that, according to some philosophical heavy-hitters like Socrates and R. M. Hare, there is no such thing? You don't hit the snooze button or use your writing time to watch cat videos because you're weak, on this view. You do it be...
2023-Feb-17 • 20 minutes
#55: Inertia and your overthinking dick brain
That positive change you need to make, which you're not making. It's because of your perfectionist anxieties, right? It's because of the intimidating hugeness of the task, because of your lack of confidence in your abilities to deal with problems along the way, because of your daddy issues and your need to maintain a work-life balance and your conscientious reluctance to commit to something you might not see through. Sorry, pal, but that's all bollocks. Your amazing brain, which is the v...
2023-Feb-03 • 16 minutes
#54: Soothe the overwhelm with the 1% question
Sometimes, there is such a massive gap between how things are now and how we'd like them to be that there's no point even trying to make changes because any change we make would be so insignificant in the grand scheme of things that it's too depressing even to think about. Better just to ignore the problem, because who has the energy for that shit, right? But also: how the hell are you going to get anywhere with this attitude?Glad you asked, because there is a way. You don't have to give...
2023-Jan-20 • 15 minutes
#53: When happiness tanks your productivity
We all know to expect less of people who are dealing with something difficult like bereavement or job loss or a divorce. But what about when something great happens to us? What if we can't focus because we've just landed the job of our dreams and we're ecstatic about it? Truth bomb, friends: you might not feel entitled to take it easy when everything is going well, but happiness can make it just as hard to focus as misery.The 'Optimize your workspace' episode of the Huberman Lab pod...
2023-Jan-06 • 16 minutes
#52: Hack your fear of failure
Are you supportive and compassionate and generally nice to yourself on those days when you've disappointed yourself? So many of us aren't. We have no idea whether it's even possible. We tell ourselves that either we're flawlessly successful or we're embarrassing failures, and since none of us is flawlessly successful, we all spend far too much time beating ourselves up for being embarrassing failures, which is an incredible waste because there's actually a lot of space between ...
2022-Dec-16 • 15 minutes
#51: Is looking after yourself just another thing to fail at?
You've had 50 episodes of this podcast so far (well, 51 including this one). That's 50 bits of advice for you to absorb, think about, and implement to make yourself feel better about stuff. We've looked at what to do about procrastination, how to feel less anxious about productivity, how to deal with impostor syndrome, FOMO, your inner critic, goalpost-moving, and more. Does all this advice leave you wondering, 'Where do I even start?!'? Do you beat yourself up about not managing to...
2022-Dec-02 • 17 minutes
#50: You hate doing it because you think you're doing it wrong
Have you noticed how much time your inner critic spends looking over your shoulder and telling you how you're doing everything wrong? No, I bet you haven't - instead you're just completely mystified about why you've grown to dread your writing or your reading or your teaching or whatever else it is that you used to enjoy but now don't. It's not doing the thing that's the problem here. It's what you're telling yourself about how you're doing the thing.
2022-Nov-18 • 13 minutes
#49: Say no to FOMO
You know, in theory, that you have too much on your plate and that you really should stop taking on even more - but, seriously, have you seen how great this new opportunity is? It's a once in a lifetime thing! There's no way anyone could turn it down!Friend, you need to end your FOMO before it ends you. The good news is that it's easy to do - you just need to reframe your choices a little. You need to think about not just what you'll miss out on if you don't take this opportunity, b...
2022-Nov-04 • 15 minutes
#48: Stop trying to run a marathon at sprint pace
Do you end every day feeling guilty and ashamed because you haven't done enough? It wouldn't have killed you to send just one more email, or spend just 30 more minutes on your writing, right? Well, sure, you could go flat out. But you wouldn't last long if you did. You need to pace yourself, which means you definitely shouldn't be dialling the effort up to 11 on a daily basis. Your mistake is expecting yourself to sprint for the whole marathon - and that's just bonkers. Crack out th...
2022-Oct-21 • 14 minutes
#47: Is your life story dragging you down?
Do you view your life as a narrative? If you do, you might be holding yourself back in ways you don't even realise. From seeing failures where there aren't any, to restricting your choices to those that fit the story, unhelpful views about what shape a successful life should take are happiness-deleting distractions from what's really important. Join your imperfect friend for the lowdown on how you can change the narrative to one that fits you better - or even reject the life-is-a-story thing ...
2022-Oct-07 • 25 minutes
#46: How to ace job interviews
I've been on more job interview panels over the years than I can remember. I've developed my own insights about what makes for a successful interview, and I've talked to my fellow (often much more experienced) interviewers about their views too. This all comes in helpful when I'm coaching clients who are preparing for an interview - but finally, here I am, offering up the highlights for you to listen to through the comfort of your own headphones! Grab an emotional-support-cuppa and join ...
2022-Sep-23 • 19 minutes
#45: Consistency is important, but what is it?
You know you're supposed to be consistent with your writing routine. But how do you manage this, when so much of what goes into writing is so vague and unquantifiable? How do you factor in things like thinking time and discussing time and skim reading the intros of articles you won't end up using? Here's your imperfect friend to help you out. Consistency, believe it or not, looks nothing like you think it looks like. It doesn't involve willpowering through the hard days. It doesn't ...
2022-Sep-09 • 17 minutes
#44: The idea of 'quiet quitting' is dangerous
Right, that's it - your imperfect friend here can't keep quiet about this any more. This idea of 'quiet quitting' that you've been reading about is bullshit, OK? There we all were, minding our own business and struggling with our usual productivity-related guilt and the idea of a healthy work-life balance, and then along came an avalanche of media articles telling us that unless we're going the extra mile in our jobs (read: doing work for free), we're 'quitting'....
2022-Aug-26 • 18 minutes
#43: You don't know how you're feeling
Do you think that finding out how you're feeling is simply a matter of turning your attention inward? Oh, mate. You're so wrong. Often, we only ever reflect on how we're feeling when we're feeling bad - and when we do reflect on it, we're not genuinely interested in finding out how we feel. Instead, we're standing by ready to pounce on ourselves with nasty judgments if we dare acknowledge that we don't feel that great. We only allow ourselves two possible states: we'r...
2022-Aug-12 • 19 minutes
#42: Are you waiting for permission?
Have you ever said something like, 'If I don't get promoted this year, I'll feel justified in quitting this job', or 'If my partner cheats on me again, I'll feel justified in ending this relationship'? If so, you're guilty of waiting for permission: waiting for something to happen so that you'll feel justified to do the thing you want to do anyway. It's a way of wasting your own time, holding yourself back, standing in your own way. You don't need permi...
2022-Jul-29 • 23 minutes
#41: Dealing with uncool emotions: envy, jealousy, resentment
Do you listen to podcasts like this one and think: But this advice is for people who are much nicer than me, who deserve success; it's not for me, who secretly hopes that their more successful colleague steps on a rake at their earliest convenience? Do you simmer with resentment even while you're doing the heart-reaction-thing on your friend's Facebook post about her new job? Is envy your dirty little secret, and yours alone? This episode is for you.References:Protasi, S. 2018: 'Love you...
2022-Jul-15 • 25 minutes
#40: Why I took SO BLOODY LONG to write my book
I started writing my book, on the philosophy of swearing, in 2015. The original deadline from the publisher was December 2016. I finally submitted it in June 2022, 5-and-a-half years late. Gather round the virtual campfire, friends, and I'll share with you why it took me so long (spoiler: it wasn't because I am lazy, worthless human being) and how I finally got it done (spoiler: it wasn't by being mean to myself).Here's a link to the Goal Contract mentioned in the episode.
2022-Jul-01 • 22 minutes
#39: 'Thick' ethical concepts and your sneaky inner critic
Everything's a judgment with your inner critic, isn't it? It's never 'I'm having trouble focusing today'; instead, it's 'I'm lazy'. And it's never 'I'm prioritising my own goals this morning'; it's 'I'm selfish'. Has it ever occurred to you that not every unhelpful character trait, choice, or behaviour is a moral flaw? You probably haven't noticed this, but your inner critic likes to sneak moral judgment into ever...
2022-Jun-17 • 16 minutes
#38: Freud, sublimation, and your toxic attachment to your inner critic
You're totally on board in theory with the idea of being kinder to yourself - it's just that your self-criticism helps you succeed, right? And while you recognise that overwork is a problem, you can't make time for rest, because then you'd fall behind, wouldn't you? Friend, don't take this the wrong way, but you have no idea what you're on about. The habits and thoughts that you think are helping you aren't doing that at all. They're making you miserable. You nee...
2022-Jun-03 • 18 minutes
#37: You should spend more time thinking about your anxiety
Do you tell yourself that, in order to be a strong, successful, productive human, you need to have zero tolerance for anxiety? I thought so. You think that if you ignore it, it will go away. The problem is, that doesn't work. Ignoring it makes it worse. To stop anxiety holding you back, you need to hit the pause button - yes, including on that thing that you really should have finished last week - and take a long, hard look at your anxiety. Here's your guide on how to do that.Here's some usef...
2022-May-20 • 21 minutes
#36: What if it doesn't need to be so hard?
Are you one of those people who thinks that if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing painfully? Who feels like they must be doing something wrong if it feels too effortless? Me too, friend. There are good reasons why you feel like progress needs to be difficult - but that doesn't mean you're right. Find out how to dial down your anxiety so you can work more peacefully on the stuff you care about.‘How To Achieve Your Goals Effortlessly’: interview with Greg McKeown on Dr Rangan Chatterj...
2022-May-06 • 20 minutes
#35: Why am I putting off doing that ridiculously undemanding thing?
Emails that will take 10 seconds to answer. That little pile of stuff in the corner of the kitchen that you need to take a couple of minutes to sort through. Taking 30 seconds to fill in a form that you're going to have to fill in at some point. You could just do these things, get them out of your head, and make your life a lot easier. Instead, you hide from them and devote far more mental effort to not doing them than it would ever take you to do them. What's going on? Well, friend - it's no...
2022-Apr-22 • 14 minutes
#34: In praise of half heartedness
If you want something, you need to put in 110% to get it, right? Well, sure, if what you want is to turn yourself into an anxious mess. If you really want to achieve your goals, you need to take a smarter approach. You need to relax, stop trying so hard, and aim for just 'good enough'. For the 'good enough' exercise mentioned in the episode, go here.Reference:Haugen, T., Seiler, S., Sandbakk, Ø. et al. The Training and Development of Elite Sprint Performance: an Integration of Scientific...
2022-Apr-01 • 19 minutes
#33: I'm supposed to be doing what I love - what's gone wrong?
Lucky you: you get to spend your time researching that thing you find more interesting than anything else in the whole world! So, why is it that you can't bring yourself to do it these days? Why does the thought of it make you feel anxious and overwhelmed rather than excited and energised?Friend, you've fallen out of love with your research. It happens. And it's not just you. Unfortunately, academia (and, come to think of it, the world in general) is geared to trying to motivate you in ways t...
2022-Mar-18 • 20 minutes
#32: You need a mindset audit
You know 'Believe in Yourself' is an important message - why else would it be emblazoned across so many t-shirts for pre-teen girls? But do you really understand why it's so important, and just how far thinking the right thoughts about who you are and what you do can take you towards where you want to be? Your imperfect pal here just discovered the astonishing work on mindsets by the Stanford psychologist, Professor Alia Crum. Get the kettle on and let's have a chat about what it all me...
2022-Mar-04 • 18 minutes
#31: Hedonism and other paradoxes
According to the 19th century philosopher Henry Sidgwick, ‘The impulse towards pleasure can be self-defeating. We fail to attain pleasures if we deliberately seek them’. Happiness isn't the only good thing that will elude you if you set out to achieve it. Relaxation, avoiding stress, being more productive - all these things slide further away from you the harder you try to reach them. What's going on? The problem, friends, is that it matters how you formulate your goals. Some goals are self-defeat...
2022-Feb-18 • 20 minutes
#30: Rejection stings less when you channel your inner toddler
Rejection stings - literally (kind of). But you can make it sting a bit less. Part of what makes it so hard is that we're so keen on kicking ourselves when we're down. We don't even realise we're doing it, let alone how to stop. Your imperfect friend is here to sort that shit out.You're going to learn:What makes rejection so hardHow we make it even harder for ourselvesWhy toddlers are your new rejection-resistant role modelsA simple mental hack to help stop your inner critic going i...
2022-Feb-04 • 20 minutes
#29: You need to date your career choices, not marry them
Choosing a career is a serious business, right? It's something we do only after a lot of sombre reflection, when we're absolutely certain that we've found the thing we want to do forever. It's certainly not a place for fun, experimentation, curiosity, and frivolity.Except ... no. Deciding that you shouldn't pursue a career unless you're really serious about it and want to do it forever is like deciding that you shouldn't date someone unless you want to marry them. Doing th...
2022-Jan-21 • 17 minutes
#28: Moore's paradox: When what you believe about yourself doesn't make sense
Do you ever have thoughts like, 'It's ok to take breaks, but I don't believe it's ok to take breaks'? Or, 'Nobody will think less of me if my writing isn't great, but I don't believe nobody will think less of me if my writing isn't great'? If so, what on earth can you do about it? There's no point telling yourself that what you believe isn't true - you already know that. If your mental life is this sort of hot mess, then maybe there's no hope ...
2022-Jan-07 • 17 minutes
#27: Your new year resolutions survival guide
Is the new year a good time to make some positive changes in your life? Or are new year resolutions a bit ... you know, cliched? And if you do decide to make some resolutions, how do you choose them? Your imperfect friend is here to hold your hand and guide you through it all. We're going to look at why, psychologically, new year is a pretty good time to make some changes, and why cynicism about new year resolutions is understandable, but overblown. We're also going to look at how you can dig down...
2021-Dec-10 • 21 minutes
#26: Why writing is like sleeping
Not an obvious comparison, I'll admit. But, trust me, you're way better at knowing how to draw boundaries around your sleep (even if you don't always put that into practice) than you are at knowing how to draw boundaries around your writing. Do you schedule meetings in the middle of the night, knowing that you'll need to interrupt your sleep to attend them? Thought not. But I bet you're guilty of scheduling meetings during time that you'd planned to spend writing. You probably ...
2021-Nov-26 • 17 minutes
#25: You don't know what 'success' means until you know who you are
We talk about success and failure all the time. You're probably in the habit of telling yourself that you'll never succeed, or that other people are more successful than you are. But do you actually know what you mean when you say things like this? Unless you have a clear conception of who you are and what you care about, you have no idea. Join The Academic Imperfectionist to cut through the bullshit stories we tell ourselves about success and failure, and find out how to write your own rules. You...
2021-Nov-12 • 14 minutes
#24: Your inner critic is not a videogame boss
You've read the inspirational quotes, you've got uplifting affirmations written on post-it notes and stuck to your fridge, you're fully on board with personal growth and empowerment - so why do you still have the inner critic buzzing away inside your head? It must mean you've failed, right? Well, no, honey. You're completely normal. You've got the inner critic all wrong, that's all. The bad news is that you're stuck with her. The good news is that she's not in ch...
2021-Oct-29 • 16 minutes
#23: The way you're trying to motivate yourself is all wrong
All that beating yourself up about how lazy you are, and about how you're not achieving the things you need to achieve as fast as you need to achieve them - it's just tough love, right? It's what keeps you going and striving to succeed. Well, actually ... lol no, imperfectionists. Your well-meaning self-criticism and self-shaming are serving no purpose whatsoever. Don't argue. It's science.Your imperfect friend is back to show you why beating yourself up not only feels bad - it&apos...
2021-Oct-15 • 20 minutes
#22: Dealing with uncertainty
Do you struggle to cope with uncertainty - about the effects of the pandemic, about your career, about your income, your relationship, and God knows what else? The Academic Imperfectionist is here to break it all down for you. You're going to learn:That it's completely normal to feel stressed and anxious in the face of uncertainty;That the reason uncertainty is stressful is due not only to the possibility of some nasty outcome that you fear, but also to how anticipating it makes you feel;That copi...
2021-Oct-01 • 14 minutes
#21: Let's talk about lists, plans, and goals
Would you rather boil your head than start the day by making a task list? Does the idea of identifying your core values make you feel faint? Are you terrified to make plans because - what if you get them wrong? You're not alone. Your anxiety about writing down what you need to do and what's important to you is understandable, but misplaced. Join The Academic Imperfectionist for the low-down on all the things you have to gain from embracing imperfect planning.Find the 'Identify Your Core Value...
2021-Sep-17 • 18 minutes
#20: Don't just write it - ferment it!
So, you heard the last episode, and you're completely on board with not writing being an essential part of writing. But what sort of not-writing is best? Some not-writing activities allow our best ideas to ferment away in the background, growing in goodness like a good batch of sauerkraut. Other not-writing activities, however, grind the whole mental fermentation process to a halt. The bad news is that, at the moment we decide to take a break from writing, we're especially vulnerable to plumping f...
2021-Sep-03 • 18 minutes
#19: Not writing is an essential part of writing
Yeah, I know - you should be writing. Same here. Not writing enough is one of the worst sins a researcher can commit - and we're all committing it almost all of the time. But what if we've got 'not writing' all wrong? What if those procrastinating hours you spent trying to decide which font to use and what colour to paint your bedroom were actually important parts of your writing process? What if, without plenty of time spent not writing, you wouldn't be a writer at all - at least, ...
2021-Aug-20 • 17 minutes
#18: There is no such thing as self-sabotage
Do you have a battle going on inside every time you try to achieve something important - a battle between the part of you that's trying to do well and your inner saboteur, who is determined to mess things up for you? Have you ever wondered why you work against yourself in this way? I mean, it's exhausting, right?The answer, my imperfect friends, is that your inner saboteur isn't a saboteur at all - at least, not intentionally. She wants you to do well. It's just that she's afraid of...
2021-Aug-06 • 16 minutes
#17: The importance of wasting your time
That productivity you care so much about: what's it for? For too many of us, it's not for anything. It's the ultimate end. Unless we're being productive, we feel like we're wasting our time, like we're being lazy, selfish, immoral, a loser. We can only bear to take a break because we think that not taking a break might harm our productivity.That's not what we tell ourselves, of course. We tell ourselves that being productive is a means to attaining our goals: finishing a t...
2021-Jul-23 • 15 minutes
#16: Stop moving your goalposts
You know what I’m talking about. You set out to achieve something important, you manage to achieve it (because you’re awesome and of course you did) - but instead of celebrating, you tell yourself it was no big deal and that you probably weren’t aiming high enough anyway and omg how are you ever going to get anywhere if you keep chasing such tiny, piddling little goals? Goalpost-moving is one of the main perfectionist weapons we use against ourselves. Doing it means that, by definition, we can never succeed...
2021-Jul-09 • 15 minutes
#15: Help! I have brain fog!
Last week, you were storming it. Hitting your writing targets. Keeping up with emails. Getting everything done (well, more or less). So, why is everything suddenly such a struggle? Why is it that you can barely remember your own name, let alone find anything intelligent to say about ... well, anything?Congratulations, you have brain fog. But also, your reaction to it is probably causing you some problems too. Don't worry, though - The Academic Imperfectionist has fought through her own brain fog to pul...
2021-Jun-25 • 14 minutes
#14: Become your own biggest advocate, with Immanuel Kant
How many times have people told you that you should believe in yourself, and how many times have you responded by thinking, 'Pfft, how can I believe in myself when I see evidence of my inadequacy everywhere I look?'? Sorry, friend, but you see no such thing. Not only are your negative beliefs about yourself doing a great job at holding you back, they're also doing a great job at their own PR - by filtering the way you experience the world so that you think you see evidence for them where the...
2021-Jun-11 • 19 minutes
#13: How to work as efficiently as you procrastinate
Q: Why is it that you manage to find all the focus, enthusiasm, and dedication you need when it comes to explaining why some dude on Reddit is NTA, but you can't bring yourself even to make a start on what you're actually supposed to be doing?A: It's because the way you think about what you're supposed to be doing is not the same as the way you think about what you're doing instead.In this episode, we'll take a look at why your attitude to work is making it difficult for you to...
2021-May-28 • 16 minutes
#12: Delete your scarcity mindset
HURRY! Listen now! This episode will expire in 13 hours, 49 minutes, and 37 seconds! You know that’s nonsense, right? Okay, but do you also realise that it’s nonsense that those other opportunities you’re considering - that not-quite-right project, that far-from-ideal job - are scarce resources that you’d better grab before they’re gone, or regret it forever? Join the Academic Imperfectionist to find out why it’s okay to hold out for what you really want, and for the lowdown on how to tell when your scarcit...
2021-May-14 • 20 minutes
#11: Why you have impostor syndrome, and what to do about it: remembering Katherine Hawley
Your desk is covered with self-affirmations on Post-It notes, you spend 5 minutes every morning visualising yourself as Queen of the Universe, and you try not to stick your fingers in your ears whenever people say nice things about you. So why is it that you still struggle to believe that you're good enough?It's commonly thought that people with impostor syndrome ignore evidence of how great they are. But that's not always true. Katherine Hawley argued that people often have good reasons to b...
2021-Apr-30 • 18 minutes
#10: Dealing with your inner reviewer 2
Does writing make you anxious? Is having any original idea immediately followed by a nagging voice in your head telling you that it's probably rubbish? That's your inner reviewer 2. Here's how to deal with her.In this episode, you're going to learn 4 useful strategies for responding to your inner reviewer 2:Acknowledge that she's there and that she's making things hard for youRecognise that she's actually trying to help - it's just that she's not very good at itR...
2021-Apr-16 • 17 minutes
#9: Cancel your productivity anxiety
We get into a vicious circle when we’re anxious about our productivity. We get anxious about falling behind, our anxiety interferes with our work, and then we worry about falling even further behind. We tell ourselves we’d feel better if only we could work a bit faster - but instead we end up watching cat videos on YouTube. It doesn’t have to be like this. Your wise, imperfect friend is here to tell you how to break the cycle.The blog posts mentioned in the episode, which summarise some of the research on t...
2021-Apr-02 • 13 minutes
#8: The nostalgia illusion
Do you ever find yourself caught up in nostalgia, reliving the past, convinced that nothing the future holds can possibly live up to the good times you've already experienced? There are reasons why it's easy to think fondly about the past and to be fearful about the future. The good news is that it's all an illusion - and it's one you can ditch. Here's how.
2021-Mar-19 • 14 minutes
#7: How can I flourish in an unjust world?
No amount of coaching is going to turn a sexist, racist, ableist society into a just and fair one. So, there's no point in even trying to flourish, right? Wrong, actually. Flourishing is a marathon - an unfair one - in which some of us are carrying heavier burdens than others. You can't make the competition fair, but you can lighten your load. Click here for the Wheel of Life exercise mentioned in this episode.Read Ephrat Livni's Quartz article, 'All career advice for women is a form of ...
2021-Mar-05 • 14 minutes
#6: Live the dream!
So, you've dreamed up your ideal life. What now? You go and get it, that's what now. There's just one problem: there's only one person who knows how to get it, and that person is not talking. Also, that person is you. Here's the strategy you need to get yourself to spill the beans.For the Ideal Life Instruction Manual mentioned in the episode, click here. The research mentioned in the episode is Riis, J., Simmons, J.P., and Goodwin, G.P. 2008: ‘Preferences for psychological enhancem...
2021-Feb-19 • 15 minutes
#5: Bitch, do you even dream?
Suppose that your Academic Imperfectionist Godmother could wave her magic wand and give you the life of your dreams, right now. What would you ask for? If you need to hesitate even for a second before knowing how you’d answer that, you need to stop what you’re doing and listen to this episode. For the Wheel of Life exercise mentioned in the episode, click here.
2021-Feb-05 • 17 minutes
#4: How to hack your assertiveness with Aristotle
You know you need to say no more, right? And you know that, in theory, there must be a way to do it without coming across as the world's most arrogant, selfish, and uncooperative person - but you just don't know how to get there from where you are now. Well, actually, you do know. You prove it every time you think wistfully about how that confident, fearless colleague of yours would never have agreed to that daft commitment that you just said yes to. Assertiveness is easier than you think. To find...
2020-Oct-30 • 16 minutes
#3: Rage against the positivity
Turn that frown upside down! Don't be a Moaning Minnie! Nobody likes a Debbie Downer! Oh, give yourselves a break, my emo friends. All that positivity can be exhausting. You have negative feelings - deal with it. Being in touch with your negative side is an important part of taking care of yourself. And moaning, done right, can help you connect with others and even build motivation to get the life you want. Join The Academic Imperfectionist for some Heaven-Knows-I'm-Miserable-Now insights into the...
2020-Oct-20 • 16 minutes
#2: But I haven't earned a rest!
What do you do when you're ready to collapse but you haven't done enough to earn a rest? Answer: you take a rest, and while you're doing it you have a long, hard think about the crazy idea that rest is something that needs to be earned. Rest is a physiological need - you no more have to earn it than you have to earn the oxygen you breathe. Get the kettle on, put your feet up, and spend your next 16 minutes chilling with The Academic Imperfectionist.
2020-Oct-16 • 14 minutes
#1: Toxic gratitude
It's good to be grateful, right? Well, maybe ... but maybe not. Sometimes our gratitude is toxic: we use it to suppress and ignore negative feelings like anger, resentment, frustration, and dissatisfaction. Those negative feelings can hold the key to making important changes in our lives. You're as entitled to your negative feelings as you are to your gratitude. Put that gratitude journal down, and listen to your anger!