This post is part of my eBook How to Kill Procrastination One Excuse at a Time.
If you’re procrastinating on something, then you’re most probably coming up with some kind of excuses as to why you don’t need to take action right away.
And if you take a close look at them, you’ll understand the main reason why you procrastinate, can then find out what underlying motive causes it, and can do something about it.
Some people think that now’s not the best time to start a project, or that they need to do this or that in order to actually begin, or to wait for something to change so that the situation can be perfect.
If that sounds familiar, then you’re a bit of a perfectionist.
Not the positive version, where you’d always want to improve yourself and thus get closer to your goals and dream bigger, but the negative one. Where you’re using perfectionism as an excuse not to get things done in the present moment, think the conditions will be better later or that you’ll be better prepared and it will be easier and smarter to take action then.
And you procrastinate.
The Problem with Perfectionism Explained
This too is connected to fearing that you might fail, but this time it’s even worse. Everything may seem fine, but you doubt your abilities and think you won’t succeed. And if you can’t complete the task perfectly, then there’s no point in doing it at all.
Sadly, after such self-doubt you feel even worse about yourself, are disappointed and lower your self-esteem. That prevents you from taking action when a future opportunity presents itself to you.
This problem comes in different forms:
Waiting for the right moment.
I know people who not only procrastinate on working on something they care about, but a lifetime isn’t enough for them to get moving.
So much potential has been wasted and goals weren’t achieved simply because of that.
If you fall into the trap of waiting for the right time to act upon your goals or just start a new project or take up a hobby, life will become a waiting room and you may never get out of it.
Later becomes never. Put things off for next week, and you’ll find yourself having forgotten about the whole thing after a month or two.
But the desire deep within won’t be dead. Even if it’s a little daily task you’ve procrastinated on, it’s a key part of the big picture. And without such elements, your overall success in life won’t be possible.
Waiting for the perfect conditions.
In this case, the person would be expecting or hoping for things to be better after some time. But, in reality, it’s finding comfort in this excuse and even blaming other people and life itself for not giving you the best conditions.
It’s easier to just let things be this way, without the need for you to take any action in the present. You feel good knowing you may try again in the near future.
Unfortunately, that rarely ends well.
Waiting for yourself to be ready.
Preparation can be a bad thing sometimes, as it turns into overthinking.
‘Not being ready’ is another excuse procrastinators use and it lets them put things off for later when they will be a better version of themselves, more experienced, more confident and better prepared.
But all this takes time, dedication and effort. And people don’t usually invest such finite resources without having a strong reason behind it.
All this waiting leads to procrastination, to wasting your time right now. It also results in missed opportunities.
Most of the times, the answer to all these is to just act now.
But let’s see what the solution is:
The Solution for Each of These Perfectionism Mindsets
1. Now is the perfect time.
Any other moment other than this one will be later, often too late.
So instead of wishing for the next one to offer you more opportunities, work with what you’ve got and make the best of it.
Life isn’t about ideas, it’s about acting upon at least one of them and turning it into reality.
You can change the course of your life right now by catching this brief moment and making it last forever.
By experiencing it, being aware of it and appreciating it. By being right here, right now, and realizing it’s the best place to be and that you don’t need anything else.
Now is where you’re supposed to be and thinking about the past or future prevents you from living this moment, which is the only thing you truly have.
If you can’t live this one, you’ll miss out on many more. And having in mind that life is made of moments like that, you don’t live at all.
But if you take control and focus on your current activity, on the people around you, on how you feel right now, if you look around and breathe deeply, you might just feel like the happiest person in the world.
And no one is able to take that from you. Because this moment is your present.
This moment is yours and no other will be more perfect. So take action.
2. Don’t rely on outer factors.
You must take responsibility for anything that happens or doesn’t happen in your life. It’s what purpose- and action-oriented individuals are doing all the time. It becomes you mindset after you practice this way of thinking for some time.
Relying on other people to give you support or advice isn’t necessary. You’re more than enough and have all it takes to get things done.
And waiting for life to bring you the perfect conditions is ridiculous. As perfection is subjective, if you think about it. What looks bad to you may be ideal for someone else who sees things differently.
So try to expand your horizons, be more open-minded and focus on how perfect things are already, instead of waiting for them to improve.
3. You’re ready.
Be more confident in yourself. Breathe deeply and admit your past successes, the things you’re good at. Also, keep in mind that you can only get better from here on. But for now, be initiative, take action, do something to get things done.
Once you ponder these ideas and develop them as your habits on a mental level, perfectionism won’t be an issue anymore.
Over to you now. How do you manage the perfectionist in you, and what can you do about understanding perfectionism today and stop using it as an excuse to procrastinate?