It happens all the time. You have the best intentions. Heck, you may even be excited about the project, task, or goal you want to work on. But you always end up waiting until the last minute or just put it off all-together. You were the girl in college who waited to do that 10-page essay until the night before it was due. And the funny thing is, you were an “A” student! You just happen to be afflicted with procrastination caused by perfectionism.
I’m right there with you sista. I suffer from this too!
I’m a list maker, and a when/then type of girl. Meaning, “When this happens, then I’ll do this”. The problem is, the stars are never perfectly aligned! I hate to say it hon, but you will never be perfect. So what do you do when your desire to be perfect gets in the way of getting things done? You have to be okay with things not being perfect. I know, easier said than done.
How is Procrastination Caused by Perfectionism?
People very rarely procrastinate due to laziness. And when you’re a perfectionist, laziness isn’t even a part of the equation.
The biggest cause of procrastination in perfectionists is fear of failure. The fear that unless everything is done perfectly right it will not be a success. And that is what stops most perfectionists from even completing goals or tasks.
Common Causes of Procrastination in Perfectionists
Can you relate to any of these? Then you might be a perfectionist.
- No Control of the Outcome: Fear of the unknown is a huge source of procrastination in perfectionists. Always feeling unsure if you are creating your best work or if it’s just not good enough. And oh my word, what if you fail?!?
- Timing: Perfectionists always want things to happen at the right time. And honestly, there is never a perfect time for anything. Waiting for everything to be exactly right before starting a task or project is a recipe for disaster.
- Anxiety: This is usually caused by the feedback loop you create in your head when you procrastinate. It’s a lot like confirmation bias. You wait to do something because you want it to be your best, you end up waiting until the last minute because you are now rushed, and then the outcome is definitely not your best work. This causes anxiety throughout the whole process. Which in turn makes you even more anxious every time you have a task or goal.
- Fear: This is the big one! Almost all procrastination is hindered by fear. It’s the root of all the other reasons you may hesitate when doing anything. And almost always there is no reason to be afraid.
Perfect Should Not Be Your End Goal
As hard as it may be to do it, you must accept that nothing you do will ever be perfect. There are no perfect people, times, or situations in this messy world we live in. And that’s okay. I really think we’ve been conditioned to believe in perfection since elementary school. And it needs to STOP!
Why do you think you can be perfect? Do you honestly think you’ll be a better person if you are? Humans are flawed, it’s what makes us interesting. As long as you are trying to improve and learn from your mistakes. You’re good. So just try to be good enough, not perfect. Perfect is damn boring.
Think of it this way. Wouldn’t you rather get more shit done by putting in your 85% best work? Or trying to do things 100% perfect and rarely getting anything done?
Why You Should Be Okay With Being Less Than Perfect
I want you to think really hard about the people you love in your life. Think about why you love them. What traits do they have that make your heart go squish? Is it that they have perfected a skill in their life? That their face and body are perfect? Do they ALWAYS say the most perfect things in any given situation? No? Then why do you expect that from yourself?
Most of us love the people in our lives because of their little quirks. The silly little things that make them unique. The things that make them human. I dare say relatable.
How to End Procrastination Caused by Perfectionism
These are some of the best ways you can deal with procrastination caused by perfection. Check out my workbook to get even more help with overcoming procrastination!
- SET IMPERFECT GOALS! I know just seeing that is probably making you wince.
- Set a firm deadline! Whatever it is; whether it’s something as simple as doing the dishes or something big like a yearly goal, set a deadline and stick to it.
- Step it Out. Write out simple, concise steps to complete the project or task and follow them until you’re done. Break down bigger tasks into bite-sized pieces.
- Work in a clean, distraction-free environment. Turn your phone on vibrate and put it in the other room.
- Reward yourself when you complete a project on time.
- Have an accountability buddy.
- Face your fears! Get to the root of why you’re so afraid to be less than perfect? Often when we face our demons they become a lot less scary. And we usually find out that we were really worried for no good reason at all.
- Just do it! Stop making excuses. The best advice I can give you, as ridiculous as it sounds, is to start at the beginning and finish when it’s done. Just start. Start now. With most activities, you can go back and refine it later. And sometimes you might even be content with the outcome even though it might not be perfect.
Allow Yourself Some Grace
The resounding best-understood way to end procrastination caused by perfectionism is to just give yourself some damn grace. Be kind to yourself. You have to realize that NOBODY in the world is perfect. I don’t care what their Instagram feed looks like. If they say their life is perfect, they’re full of shit.
I always say, “I’m not perfect, but I seek to be perfected”. It’s one of my favorite sayings. And it simply means there is always room for improvement in anything that we do. And we should be excited about the opportunity to grow.
So, get out there! Make mistakes. And don’t be afraid to be less than perfect.
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