How perfectionism can be a procrastination excuse

Perfectionism can become your greatest procrastination barrier, without you really realizing it. When left to ruminate over time, the “good” traits of perfectionism, which seem to serve us so well on a daily basis, can start to sour as the days, weeks, months and even years, slip by. The subtle feelings of frustration start to rise, as you can’t quite pinpoint why things aren’t shifting, changing or moving as much as you’d have liked or as quickly as you thought.

‘What could possibly be happening?’ you think to yourself.

You’re an organized being who prides themselves on their processes and you’re not one to shy away from hard work. But this is the problem with procrastination when it’s linked to perfectionism, it’s a little sneaky and not easy to see.

Hiding behind the perfectionism flag, you can’t quite see past it flapping gallantly in the wind, because everything you’ve been doing and working towards, is useful. It’s needed. It’s just not quite there yet. Because it’s not perfect.

These are the thoughts we tell ourselves to help justify the lack of movement and progress – but how long can that really go on for before we realize that this is just a different way of labeling our excuses and stopping ourselves from achieving?

I know this feeling all too well. Take this beautiful website for example. It’s been a year in the making, and not because it actually took a year to develop. It took a year because, until last month, I didn’t realize…ok I probably didn’t want to admit...that I had been making excuses and holding myself back.

I put out into the Universe, via Instagram, that I was going to launch my website in February 2018. My wonderfully supportive coaching school, the Beautiful You Coaching Academy, featured my exciting new website launch in one of their posts, which I thought would help keep me accountable. It did not.

I just felt guiltier and guiltier as time slipped by and I sat there waiting. Doing nothing. I had already done the hard work as my website content, design and photos were waiting for their new home.

I was waiting for the right developer that never seemed to come.

I was waiting for the friend who owed me a favour that I could never pin down.

I was waiting for the perfect time, the perfect person and the perfect cost to get this baby off the ground.

And you know what? It didn’t happen that way.

After working with 2 coaches on tapping into my intuition, increasing my confidence and creating more space in my life, it finally dawned on me.

My website didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to be live.

This was my “ah-ha” moment. I breathed a sigh of relief and I made a plan. With a decade of digital marketing and basic website development experience under my belt, I knew I had the skills to create something that was close to the “perfect” website for my brand. And that was enough right now. It was hurting me more not having a website to direct people to and it was waaayy overdue!

Looking back at these moments, it seems funny to me now how I just couldn’t see that my perfectionism was my procrastination excuse and that was just stopping me from doing anything at all.

When we think about procrastination, we often think about doing lots of different things to avoid the bigger thing that we actually need to be focussing on. This is usually swapped out with doing chores (isn’t is amazing how important cleaning can be when you’re trying to avoid something?!) or doing something fun like walking the dog, sorting out old magazines, researching on Pinterest, finally catching up on your social admin or undertaking another online course.

We don’t usually think of our perfectionism as being the barrier, because it’s often masked as being productive. Think about all those “productive” hours you’ve spent cleaning, organizing, tidying, sorting etc.

How much of those were absolutely needed in that moment? How many times do you think you were actually trying to avoid doing something else?

When we recognize our perfectionist traits, we can finally see them for what they are – barriers to success.

Then we can review what absolutely has to be done versus what we would like to have in a perfect world.

When you’re ok with the bare minimum or the minimum viable product (MVP), you’ll start to see things shift and change in a way that is aligned with your vision and it won’t seem difficult, overwhelming or a barrier anymore.

And then you’ll laugh at how easy it all was! (and perhaps cry a little too!).

I’d love to hear about your perfectionism procrastination barrier stories in the comments below.

With love,

Heather Currie