Goblin Mode: The Antidote for Perfectionism

So the Word of the Year is goblin mode. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the selection is “a word or expression reflecting the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months, one that has potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.” Yikes. Lasting cultural significance. Goblin mode is here to stay.

Goblin mode is defined as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” Here is how to use it in a sentence (and in life):

“Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines. It’s about a complete lack of aesthetic. Because why would a goblin care what they look like? Why would a goblin care about presentation?”

— Kari Paul, The Guardian

In a nutshell, goblin mode is letting it all hang out. It’s the opposite of immaculate self-presentation, perfectionism, and self-improvement. In many ways, goblin mode is exactly what we all need sometimes. While “self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy” may not be a state of being to aspire to, that is precisely the point. I think of goblin mode as the antidote for the exhausting and relentless messaging of the self-help industrial complex that is constantly telling us that we are not good enough. “Ugly coping” — a close friend of goblin mode — may not boost your productivity but it may be the boost you need.

According to Twitter, when people say “goblin mode” this is what they mean:

Sometimes it’s okay to embrace our inner feral cat. Rather than something to be avoided, lean into goblin mode when necessary. Think of it as a superpower that can help recharge and revitalize you. Remember, it’s a mode and not a permanent state. As explained in The Guardian, it’s not a fixed identity but a frame of mind.

I am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions but for those intent on making one, instead of making a radical change or setting an ambitious goal, consider making a few simple changes that enhance rather than punish:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Mobilize your strengths and values
  • Be kinder

Whatever you do, go easy on yourself if you’re having trouble sticking to it. Setbacks are part of the process. New Year’s isn’t the only time to initiate a change.

Bottom Line: If goblin mode is what you need on occasion, so be it. It may be just what the doctor ordered.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman