Maybe you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist.
Your house isn’t spotless. You don’t make your bed every morning, or iron every piece of clothing you wear. And you didn’t have a perfect GPA in school. Isn’t that what being a perfectionist is all about?
Nope. Being a perfectionist simply means that you have very high, probably unrealistic, standards. And these unrealistic standards might be subconscious, so you don’t even know you have them.
Now, having high standards might not seem like a bad thing. However, perfectionism has a side effect that can keep you from getting things done and reaching your goals.
That side effect is procrastination.
Is Perfectionism Causing You to Procrastinate?
“If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.”
If perfectionism has a motto, that’s it.
And it’s true that you want to try to do things well. But to a perfectionist, doing something “well” actually means doing it “perfectly.” In fact, perfectionists see anything less than perfection as a failure.
If you’re like most of us, you don’t like to fail. So if some part of you sees anything less than perfection as a failure, and you’re afraid you won’t be able to do something perfectly, you just might put off doing that something rather than risk failing.
In other words, you’ll procrastinate.
One way to deal with procrastination is to deal with your perfectionism. And here are three ways you can do just that.
Three Ways to Overcome Perfectionism
1. Set a time limit. What are you procrastinating on? Cleaning the kitchen? Writing a report? Balancing your bank account?
You can spend time trying to figure out what high expectations are causing you to procrastinate. But here’s an easier approach.
Basically, don’t worry about trying to do something perfectly. Just focus on doing it for 30 minutes.
2. Celebrate Your Accomplishments. To a perfectionist, every glass is half empty. So make a habit of seeing those glasses as half full. Don’t say, “I only got two pages of that report written today.” Say, “Hey, I wrote 2 pages of that report today!” And take a moment to truly feel good about your accomplishment. Feeling good about the progress you’ve made will motivate you to do more.
3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. How do you react when you make a mistake? Do you call yourself stupid or clumsy? Do you say things like, “I’m such a loser,” or “I can’t do anything right!”? Well all of this reinforces the idea that anything less than perfection is unacceptable.
So get into the habit of forgiving yourself for your mistakes. If you drop a glass, for example, don’t criticize and berate yourself. Just say, “Oh, well, these things happen,” and move on.
If you struggle with procrastination, perfectionism might be the cause. And once you get a handle on your perfectionism, you’ll find that you procrastinate less and get more done.
Remember, continue to take steps of excellency and you will leave behind a trail of greatness!