So many perfectionists and recovering perfectionists -- myself most certainly included -- find ourselves struggling with perfectionism’s mirror image: procrastination. Although it may seem counterintuitive, procrastination can serve as a means to manage our perfectionistic impulses and the paralysis that often results from them. The less time we give ourselves to complete a task -- whether it’s getting ready for a party or date or Oh, I don’t know writing a blog post, for example -- the less time we’ll have to drive ourselves crazy obsessing over the details and trying to get everything just so. Perfect. We find ourselves completely unable to summon the necessary motivation until we’re under the gun in a serious time crunch.
Not only does this cycle of procrastinate-scramble-procrastinate cause massive amounts of undue stress, it often leaves us with a serious guilt hangover.
As perfectionists, we’re often especially skilled at beating ourselves up about any perceived failure or shortcoming, particularly when we feel like we’re disappointing someone else. Just this week, with this very blog post, I got caught up in the vicious procrastination-guilt cycle.
Ashley and I share the task of writing for the Eff Perfect blog, and this week was my turn to post. I was feeling totally unmotivated and just kept putting it off and putting it off, procrastinating the week away, all the while feeling super guilty about it. I didn’t really want to tell Ashley about my struggles because (1) that would require me to admit them out loud and (2) I didn’t want to let her down. When I finally told her how I was feeling, she (of course) responded with the empathy and understanding that I would’ve shown to anyone else but couldn’t manage to give myself.
This experience was a reminder for me of how far I’ve come in my journey with perfectionism + procrastination but also of the fact that it is a journey and a process. I was reminded that I don’t want to cause myself unnecessary guilt by holding myself to a “perfect” standard I would never apply to anyone else. That’s not who I want to be or how I want to live my life -- and it’s not the example I want to set.
So, the moral of this imperfectly perfect story? Eff perfect, eff procrastination, and most of all, eff the guilt that goes along with it. Instead, let’s focus on awareness and compassion. Increasing our awareness of the times when we get stuck in perfectionism + procrastination and choosing compassion for those processes over guilt. Let’s meet our perfectionistic struggles with the same compassion and empathy that we would show our best friend, our partner, or our child. We deserve it just as much as anyone else.
Middle fingers up! We’re in this together.
Show yourself some compassion by taking the Eff Perfect Pledge today.