Having a rigid mindset, a strict mindset, seems to be sold sometimes as an advantage in our post-industrial society. The factory line and the worker mentality; I do this job at this time and only one way. This type of thinking applies itself to industry, whether it was a boon to humanity is based on your opinion of industrialisation. Regardless, I have managed to inherit such a mindset with regards to my studies and my work. Against first impressions, it has caused much more overwhelm than it has productivity for myself. It paralyses me from beginning a new project, as I am worried that I won't be able to do everything exactly the way I want, the way I am used to. Furthermore, it paralyses me from continuing a big project as it requires so much effort to keep fighting the natural deviations from the exact path that inevitable occur. It is a very high maintenance mindset.
I feel this mentality has come from a very narrow view of learning, it is only done by book, in silence and you keep going until you understand every sentence (perfectionism plays its own role here and I feel like writing about it later, but I would recommend this video for a starter). This is clearly false and it amazes me that it took me nearly three decades on this planet to figure it out but hey! better late than never.
On the other hand, flexibility is crucial for learning without driving yourself nuts. One has to be flexible in understanding that not everything is urgently important to know or memorise, and that you will never learn everything anyway. The higher level understanding is more important and as long as the concepts are linked in your head, more likely than not you can recreate the smaller details if you really need to. Flexibility in types of learning is also key, some people learn with books the best, some with videos, some by doing, but a mix of many types is certainly beneficial to a lot of people. However, the most important flexibility may be found in giving yourself some slack. I don't mean slack off but I mean regulating or cutting back on negative self-talk that inevitably arises from being rigid. “How can you have not finished those two extra pages today?” “How can you be 30 mins late on your self-study for fun? Catch up!” (to what?) and so on. These can be useful for strict deadlines and taking yourself straight to stress rehab. Especially, in these times, if you find yourself being very strict with yourself, just be a bit less serious. Top up that glass of wine, have that extra chocolate – your mind and thus your body (rather counterintuitively) will thank you. I thank you too, for your time and for being you! Keep on keeping on.