Yesss! That is so true. And I used to be the queen of perfectionism. I would love to tell myself, that even though I had been a perfectionist, I wasn’t a procrastinator (perhaps the world may not perceive me to be, but I was). I used to get a lot of things done easily. I think I still have the knack to do it but I am slowing myself down.
I’m truly a perfectionist at heart. What better example than this very post. I procrastinated it the whole week and kept pushing it to Saturday, because, I felt that I wasn’t ready yet with my best story to put to the world. Had I pushed for my PERFECT story, a bit longer, I would’ve never been able to produce this post at all. That’s the power of “perfectionism based procrastination” as I call it.
Till today, I love making tweaks and changes to my doctoral work, my blogs, my workshop materials, my home decor, my cooking, my emails, my social media posts etc. etc. The list is long. But then, guess what… I still end up finding some proofing mistakes, or spelling mistakes, language errors or something or the other goes wrong, which I could’ve done better. So, what am I really chasing in the name of perfectionism? NOTHING. It is just procrastination. If I ever procrastinated to keep checking in, again and again, I would end up making more mistakes. The human mind is designed like that.
When our brains are wired in survival mode, so much so, we forget to take small courageous steps, every single day, in our lives. Whether the courage is required to speak our mind (gently and politely) or produce the work that we want to. If I ever procrastinated my writing, I’d just keep checking in, again and again. Ultimately, I’d end up making more mistakes or simply give up. Perhaps, I’d get into the mode where I’d think I’m a perfectionist and if I can’t get it “perfect” why just do it?
At no point, do I mean that I am trying to just get ANYTHING out in the world. Quality is not compromised. I am still the perfectionist at heart, who wants to produce the best of the best in the world. But I have a better realization now, through trial and error, that the only way I will ever be able to perfect anything is through practice: by actually doing the work. After being the perfectionist for so long, and not getting much done, I did few checks and found that here are the few things that could help:
- Get up and get working: The only way you can ever beat perfectionism and consequently your procrastination is to get crackalacking. Whether it is lack of focus holding you up in the form of perfectionism, or lack of confidence, or even indecision… The only way to get rid of it is to actually do the work. Get to work and just start! Because that’s the only way you can perfect something. Chances are high, if you’re stuck in your perfectionism mode, you’ll never get started… Never get your work/service out in the world.
- Prioritize and embrace your moment as it is: When we think of perfectionism, we are largely fearful that our work, or our creativity, or our service, may not be recognized by the world. This fear-fuelled procrastination is seen in students, teachers, professionals, homemakers… anyone and everyone. The only way to ease into it is through tough schedules, where you know you can prioritize tasks that are most important to you. After this, you just do the work required in the moment and simply give your best.
- Stop over-evaluating your reason for the delay: People who are perfectionists or claim that they are perfectionists, set higher goals for themselves. They may overcommit to themselves and set very high expectations, which sometimes can be tough to meet or even accept as reality. Eventually, what happens is that one starts making reasons that either one isn’t good enough or saying things like “I am lazy.” Or even “If things are gonna be done, they gotta be done “right”.” and that right is never truly understood. It is best to stop over-evaluating the reasons and just get to work.
- Become your own boss at deadlines: Oh! This one really works. When you become your own boss and set extremely strict and non-negotiable deadlines for yourself, you get things done, regardless of the fact that you’re a perfectionist or you simply procrastinate. For instance, I have special days dedicated for my business writing. I have specific and strict deadlines set for workout routine, my meal prep, my doctoral work and for fun too.
- Give yourself some more love and less criticism: Most of the time, perfectionism is rooted in self-criticism. We are so overly cricial of ourselves, we always tell ourselves we can do better. Of course, we cal always make anything and everything better. It’s like reaching a limitless horizon. The more we criticize ourselves the less likely we are to produce quality work in time. And of course, we will always be fearful of failure and ridicule. Isn’t that the perfect recipe for procrastination then? Save yourselves, and provide yourself with a little more self-love. Know that you can do it and do it well, each and every time you set your mind on something.
Now you tell me about your perfectionist attitude. What stops you from doing the good work you’ve been meaning to in your professional or personal life. Will any of these strategies work for you? I look forward to seeing you in the comments sections.
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