The Role Perfection Plays in Hindering Progress and Promoting Procrastination

Welcome to Week 4. Can you believe it?! You have been here for 22 days and your should be seeing progress if you’ve been doing the challenges. Let’s build on it this week by going a little deeper with actions you can take that will help you stop procrastinating. But first…let’s talk about the elephant in the room and what makes many of us procrastinate: being perfectionists.

Perfection Makes Us Stagnant

When we want to be perfect, we stop ourselves from moving forward. We fear letting others down. We fear not being good enough. We fear that if we can’t do our absolute best without a single flaw in the process, it’s not worth submitting the project or doing the work. So we don’t do anything.

We don’t have time to write so we don’t show up for ourselves to make progress on the books in our mind. Instead, we could have written a chapter here and there as we find a few moments. Over time they would become a book and we could hire a great editor to make it flow well.

We can’t find the perfect quote for our blog so we push it off until we do and then we end up not being able to finish it by the time we needed to post so it sits unfinished on our hard drives or in our drafts. Instead, we could have found another quote and written a blog that was just as good since no one else knew the quote we couldn’t find. (See below for how something similar almost derailed this post toward a garbage.)

We can’t workout five times a week for 30 minutes a day so we don’t do it at all because it doesn’t feel good enough. Except that even 3 10-minute workouts would be better than what you are doing and would help you begin to to see change.

You get the point. We stop ourselves from being perfect in areas where perfection isn’t required.

The perfection trap makes us feel like if it can’t be perfect it shouldn’t be done, but the truth is that perfection isn’t required. You read that right. Your best is what is required. Excellence in all you do (Col 3:23-24). Show up fully and do all that you can and you’ve done it perfectly.

A Real-Life Example

For this blog, I have always wanted to show up like I do for my clients: prepared, well thought out, and ready to get to the point so we can get things done. But because I earn money from the services I provide, it’s felt like marketing myself instead of writing to share information so I stopped sharing that kind of content. It was always easier to write for The Essential Creative, my passion project and creative-lifestyle blog. I would took the time I could have spent to write a helpful post here and would instead have fun writing a post there for the creative audience, who I knew wouldn’t care about a typo or a post being too long. I saw this as work because it represents my business and shows me in a different light. In other words: I way overthought everything about showing up here because I knew I didn’t have the time to be perfect.

If you read The Essential Creative, or even some of these, you KNOW that I am not a proofreader or good editor of my own work. I overthink and overedit and end up with something that is VERY long and doesn’t convey what I want it to when I try to do any editing to my own work. So for years, this blog has sat pretty much unattended to. I have just posted random posts here and there and not really shown up to educate you all on all things voice discovery or even really shared my writing until recently.

For this blog, I have wasted so much money and time on tools and resources that could help me help you because I want every detail to be perfect. This series scares me because I am sitting each day, combing through notes the team made for me, and then adding my touches to expand on the content or write an entirely new post when I am not happy with the foundation they’ve done for me. And it is scary because none of it is the way I like to show up professionally.

Instead of writing, I overthink. Instead of letting my thoughts flow, I overedit. Instead of just trusting my gut, I am following a script (and if you’ve read my book, you know I let those go a year ago!)

I’ve done exactly what I tell my clients NOT TO DO!

“Just write and let it flow,” I tell them. “Don’t worry about being perfect, just get something onto the paper and then you’ll see where you are going,” I tell them. “It’s better to show up consistently than to show up perfectly,” I tell them. And then I have done the very opposite for myself.

So this has been a hard series for me because it forces me to be like my own client and use tools, resources, and a place within myself that is very uncomfortable. But it’s also been exhilarating because I am doing it. I am showing up and I am keeping my commitment to myself and to you to post a challenge regardless of how many people do it or come to read it.

Perfection Promotes Laziness

When we start to put things off and refuse to make progress, we become so overwhelmed with how much there is to do that we end up binging television or diverting our attention to tasks that don’t require brainpower. As one of my clients tells me:

I sit down to write the blog post and suddenly I realize I have to organize my closet and the Tupperware.

Anonymous to protect the guilty and oved

When we put things off too much, we become lazy. We start to live an existence where every accomplishment is something that we could accomplish before we are fully awake. We have to stop doing that to ourselves. The key is to stop expecting perfection from ourselves when no one around us does. Even overbearing bosses can be tamed when we just show up and do our best.

Today, let’s stop striving for perfect, accept that our best IS good enough, and show up in ways that may surprise us when we realize how much we’ve accomplished by the end of this year. It’s time to stop playing ourselves small and start reaching within to do all that we have been created to do. It starts with letting go of perfection and embracing progess.

Challenge

Note the areas where you are focusing on perfection versus making progress. In at least one of those areas or tasks, STOP! Today. Make progress this week.

Bonus: Why I Almost Didn’t Post This Blog

I was trying to find a sermon series from a couple years ago in which there was a perfect message about the importance of progress over progression. I couldn’t find it so I almost scrapped this entire topic since I didn’t like what the team presented to me as an outline for today. However, I started writing and I realized I did have a full post within me even without the sermon as a reference.

In my search, I found this message from Pastor Michael Todd that was really good about the importance of striding versus striving. Progress, to me, is about striding and taking our time, being purposeful with every action. Taking an intentional step. If you enjoy sermons, watch this one, as the message is still relevant today.

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