• Gill Reed

How to Recover From A Bad Day As A Perfectionist

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

If you're OCD like me, the smallest parts of your day can be hard to overcome.

Photo by Jason Barone on Unsplash

“If you’ve had a bad day, look at it as a good day and you’ll never have a bad day again.” — Charles Robert Simmons II

If you’re like me, you read that quote and thought, Yeah, right, let me just pretend my day, which went nowhere near as planned, was actually a great day, and I’m not totally pissed off about it.

I like to think of myself as a perfectionist. So when one event puts a dent in my perfectly, well-thought-out day, I feel like a failure.

I’m not a perfectionist, though. I have OCD.

But perfectionist sounds better than OCD — so we’re going to roll with it anyways.

From Productive to Failure In Seconds

I had a productive day planned. There were a few things on my to-do list from the weekend I didn’t attend to because it was freezing cold outside, I had a headache, and I felt exhausted.

I was looking forward to starting my Monday off studying for my certified personal trainer exam, finishing a book, starting a new book, and a myriad of other tasks.

I crawled out of bed and shuffled around as I got ready for the gym. I threw my bright red leggings on (it was leg day so colorful leggings were a must), slid my sweatshirt on, and stormed outside, ready to get my day going.

I hopped in my car, pushed start, and…

*click click click* Hmmm, I thought. Let me try again. *click click click*

I frantically called my boyfriend before he turned off our street and asked him if I could catch a ride to the gym with him.

I figured my poor little Volvo was just struggling to start in the cold. Surely it would turn on when we got back.

To my dismay, it did not turn on.

I tried to jump it, and nothing happened. I had to call a tow truck and send my poor baby off to the mechanic to get fixed.

This grueling process took my entire day. Literally. I didn’t get home until 4:00 P.M.

I. Was. Pissed.

But — I decided that even at 4:00 P.M. with my to-do list still missing all my beautiful check marks, my day more than half gone, the sun almost setting, and my attitude about ready to snap, I was not going to let this get in my way.

I’ll tell you how.

There's Still Time

All things considered, there were plenty of hours left in the day.

I refused to let myself lose more precious time by sulking in sadness about the $300 I just spent to fix my car. (New batteries and tow trucks are not cheap, especially on an intern salary.)

Too often we take a small mishap in our day which explodes into thoughts like, Well, now my whole day is ruined, or, Well, now I’m mad so everything else will have to wait until tomorrow because my couch and my favorite Netflix show are waiting for me.

It Doesn't Have to Be Like That

I’m sure there are plenty of people who have had something much worse than a dead car battery ruin their day.

Still, when you are as OCD as I am, I mean — when you’re as much of a perfectionist as I am (remember, perfectionist, sounds better than OCD), then the one crappy bump in your day is going to seem like your world is ending.

The world is not ending. It is still spinning, quite rapidly, I might add.

There is still time to make it better.

I know I put too much pressure on myself to accomplish every little thing I write down.

I’m sure others do as well. Why let the one bad thing impact all the other amazing things?

Failure is inevitable.

It’s normal to fear it. Psychology Today wrote in an article that one of the ways to make sure failure isn’t getting in your way is by focusing on what you can control.

Why not just say, Hey, you know what? That freaking sucked. I’m super pissed off and irritated right now. I have more than one thing on my to-do list, and I’ll be damned if I don’t at least accomplish a couple of them.

Could I control what happened to my car?


What did I control? How I chose to react and the ways I worked to make it better.

I know it’s hard to prevent the bad from overthrowing the good.

I also know how easy it is to let Netflix and a date with your couch inhibit your goals for the day after you’ve been upset.

For The Future

Instead of closing your blinds shut and crawling into the dark abyss of your living room to hide from your bad day — try starting over.

Try starting over, even if it’s at 4:00 P.M. on a Monday. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

I know you want to tell yourself you deserve that pizza and Netflix date for the rest of your evening. I’m not here to tell you that you don’t deserve it.

Instead, I’m here to push you to the conviction to still strive to accomplish your goals — even if you wanted to cry like I did. (Thankfully, I couldn’t cry because I just got my lashes done or else I would have been spouting tears like a water park.)

You’d be surprised what can happen in a few hours.

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