Procrastination vs Perfectionism

Procrastination and Perfectionism are two sides of the same coin!

Both these phenomenon are largely subconscious. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to detect procrastination and perfectionism in us. And it can get even more elusive to see the link between the two.

Well, to put it simply, it can be very hard for us to get anything done if it HAS to be done perfectly! Perfectionism has this uncanny tendency of telling your mind that the outcome needs to be better than 100%. This becomes the starting point of the procrastination.

Have you ever attended a talk or a meeting and come out absolutely inspired to do something about it? And you might have had a rush of energy and ideas about the end result. But as you decide to take the first step to implementing your ideas, something happens. Your mind starts telling you that you need to make it absolutely fantastic and flawless. And then you tell yourself that you need to plan more…you need to make it the best that was ever done…you need to let it ‘brew’ a while longer.

Before you know it, all the energy and excitement that you had in the beginning, has slowly started to convert itself into a weight on your shoulders and mind. And this marks the beginning of your tryst with procrastination.

Psychologists call it the ‘3-P Cycle’. 
Perfectionism – Procrastination – Paralysis.

We have all heard that Procrastination is unhealthy. But not many of us are told that Perfectionism is unhealthy too.

The thing with perfectionism is that it never allows us to settle with results. 100% is just not good enough. It keeps the mind driven to constantly make things ‘better’. Therefore, there is no sense of satisfaction whatsoever. Constant Self-Criticism prevails. A constant ‘Fear of Failure’ prevails because perfectionists often consider ‘non-perfection’ as failure.
All of this starts a complex loop that is very unconscious and quite unnerving. And when the mind is overwhelmed with all of this internal pressure, it just shuts off and decides to get to it another day. Procrastination is just your mind’s way of staying out of the pressure-zone within.

I have seen people who often get things done in the very last minute, have an unconscious mechanism of justifying to their perfectionist-self. They have an internal dialogue that says that they were not able to do their best only because they were out of time. Sometimes, this is the only way they know how to deal with their perfectionist self – by justifying to themselves about the lack of time. 

Author Anne Wilson Schaef said in one of her books, “Perfectionism is Self-Abuse of the highest order”

“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
~ Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

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I think I agree! Procrastination isn’t the problem. Perfectionism is.


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