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How to Be Successful: Overcome Perfectionism and Procrastination – Two Sides of the Same Coin

How to Be Successful: Overcome Perfectionism and Procrastination – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Perfectionism and procrastination are usually considered separate, unrelated topics. However, when examined closely, they are more like kissing cousins than casual friends.

Procrastination is an obvious block to success and accomplishment; while the other, perfectionism appears as one’s desire to present quality and accuracy. More often than not, they both serve the same purpose… preventing you from achieving your goals and dreams. Let’s take a closer look to see what I mean.

Perfectionism… the power play of the ego! I’ve had my own issues and experiences with perfectionism. One thing I’ve learned about it is that viewing something as ‘perfect’ is relative to where we are at a particular time in our growth and awareness.

I’m still working on totally overcoming it, but now I’m much better at realizing when I’m giving into it. It was an obstacle to being and presenting my best self for a long time. When I learned to let go of it and allow my inner self to express ‘me’ as I am, things began flowing much better, and I accomplished a lot more.

When I look back at some of the work I once thought was ‘perfect’, well… it doesn’t look so perfect now. I’ve grown and evolved; and my beliefs and perceptions have changed.

While most of my work still makes me proud, other projects appear under-developed or unpolished. And, some of it makes me say to myself… ‘what was I thinking when I wrote or did that!’

For example, I started writing a book a few years after losing my son. It seemed so enlightened and powerful at the time. I spent years re-writing, revising and trying to ‘make it perfect’.

I had so much to say and I wanted it to be just right. In the end, I never published it. I worked on it for years, but it was never completed. To me, it was never the shining example of perfection I wanted it to be.

Now when I look at the manuscript, I regret that I didn’t complete it and let it be published. I had a message that was never delivered. Those I wanted to help, never got to read what I was offering, which means we all lost the benefit of that missed opportunity.

Now let’s take a look at procrastination. Simply put, this is the one habit that will stop you in your tracks. We all do it, even successful people procrastinate. The difference is they’ve learned to recognize it and have developed techniques to control and overcome it.

Procrastination shows up in many ways. When it comes time to work on our projects and tasks, we subconsciously look for, and find every excuse in the world to avoid doing them.

In the office, we take bathroom breaks, visit with fellow employees, get coffee, make phone calls, maybe surf the net! At home, we play with the kids, walk the dog, do house work, water the plants, make phone calls, and yes, surf the net… do you see where I’m going with this?

Now, it’s okay if you procrastinate occasionally; and don’t beat yourself up about it. But, you must recognize the signs when you’re doing it and take steps to stop it before it stops you.

While perfectionism appears to be a positive attribute and is perceived as something to be admired, procrastination is widely recognized for what it really is… an obstacle to your success.

The bottom line is whether you’re a perfectionist or a procrastinator the end result is the same… you miss deadlines, fail to complete projects and achieve your goals and dreams.

If these time-wasting, energy-consuming behaviors are allowed to continue unchecked, you’ll end up feeling frustrated and defeated at every turn.

No matter how talented and capable you are, you’ll never realize your full potential until you master and control these behaviors.

So, what’s the answer? It’s simple, though not necessarily easy. First, learn to identify which behavior you’re exhibiting, and when.

Are you continually re-working, re-writing, and revising projects which cause you to miss or postpone deadlines? That could be a sign of perfectionism.

Instead, put your best effort into completing your project, make reasonable revisions and release it as complete… on time. When you’ve done your best, you know it and the feelings of success and accomplishment are your rewards.

When you’re procrastinating, you have difficulty even starting a project. You get knots in your stomach, feel anxious, restless and even guilty.

But, once you move through the procrastination and complete a milestone or a task, you feel relaxed, satisfied and motivated. This gives you a sense of success and accomplishment and raises your self-confidence.

Now that you know how to recognize which behavior you’re exhibiting you’ll be able to decide which actions to take. I said the answer was simple, but not necessarily easy.

The truth is you are the solution. And how you handle these challenges is up to you.

Taking action requires will power, focus and self-discipline. Make the decision to change the self-defeating behaviors of perfectionism and procrastination and choose to experience success and accomplishment instead.

Make a plan. The next time you start to procrastinate, stop yourself; take 3 deep breaths and do something related to your project or work.

When you see perfectionism rising, set a deadline for completing a phase or milestone, and stick to it. Give it your best, then allow it to be complete and move on to the next phase or project.

As with all things in life, it comes down to making choices. You can choose to continue experiencing the limitations and resistance of perfectionism and procrastination, or embrace the freedom and exhilaration that comes with achievement and success.

Procrastination and perfectionism, or success and achievement; which of these two kissing cousins would you rather have in your family? Choose wisely… you’ll be spending the rest of your life with them. Perfect!