I often procrastinate when it comes to certain things I must do. I get distracted by doing other things, when I know the actual task I should be doing. It’s a very selective process and often related to finishing something I’m writing. Friends have called it writer’s block but I knew it wasn’t. The thoughts I write about come easily to me. I couldn’t figure it out until a very wise person pointed out that because I’m such a perfectionist about my writing, I procrastinate on finishing certain things I’m writing due to my concern about not being perfect.

That got me thinking. I’ve seen it in clients, friends and in myself. Procrastination is often caused by feeling like you can’t do something perfectly, so you put it off.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many other areas I’ve procrastinated in because subconsciously I was concerned about not doing it perfectly. I’ve put off phone calls because I wasn’t sure I had the right words. I’ve procrastinated on finishing a book proposal because this is what gets me the deal and I needed it to be perfect. The more I think about it, the more I realize how tied to perfection a lot of my procrastination has been over the years.

Recognizing that you’re procrastinating because you’re scared of not being perfect can help you find ways around it.

Once I understood the root of my procrastination, I felt more empowered. It’s allowed me to take a lot more control of it. I used to wonder what was wrong with me when I just couldn’t do what I knew I should or had to do. Knowing that my desire to do certain things in the most perfect way possible made me realize that I wasn’t a slacker or an unmotivated person. It allowed me to focus on what more I could do to make progress instead of just putting things off and getting disgusted with myself.

Next time you procrastinate, do a check and see what might really be at the root of it. Ask, “Am I scared of not doing it well enough or getting it perfect so I just don’t do it at all?”

This awakening has helped me to get a lot more things done. Striving for that elusive perfection went to doing the best that I can I a reasonable about of time. While I still want to write as well as it can be written or say the most perfect words, I now weigh reaching that perfection against not getting it done. If I want to keep writing books, I must finish my proposals. If I want sponsorship, I must make the calls. This has changed my mindset and allowed me to limit procrastination dramatically.

It’s okay to procrastinate sometimes; we all need to do it. But usually the things that you want done perfectly are what’s most important to get done.

As you recognize that you’re putting off doing stuff because you’re scared you won’t do it perfectly, take control by analyzing what you can do to help the process. Get advice from someone you trust. Run it by a few people. Take a real break with the intention of coming back to it fresh. Accept that you can only do your best, and then do your best! No matter what, make sure you forgive yourself for procrastinating. It’s a very normal human thing to do.

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