Procrastination and Perfectionism-Are Procrastinators Perfectionists or Perfectionists Procrastinators?

Procrastination and Perfectionism-Are Procrastinators Perfectionists or Perfectionists Procrastinators?

Procrastination and Perfectionism:_To outsiders the procrastinator doesn't seem to care about much, especially trying to be perfect or impress anyone._The truth is that procrastinators are so fearful of making a mistake that they are rarely able to begin or complete tasks._Procrastinators are reluctant to begin projects without a clear path and certainty there will be no errors.  

Procrastinators will unconsciously tell themselves “I can’t start this project until I can see how it will be completed without errors or setbacks.  I need to see the full picture”. 

As discussed in Perfectionism and Anxiety, perfectionists can suffer from severe anxiety and an overwhelming fear of mistakes.  Anxiety is not all that plagues the perfectionist.  Perfectionists are frequently labeled as procrastinators, controlling, or unmotivated.  Colleagues and family members can become frustrated with perfectionists; observing them to be extremely capable, talented or even brilliant, but unable to motivate themselves. 

Perfectionists often refer to themselves as lazy, not recognizing they are perfectionists. Self-labeled procrastinators rarely know they are perfectionists.  

Unmotivated, lazy, and passive aggressive are words familiar to the Procrastinator.  When asked if it is possible that one might be a perfectionist, the answer is nearly always the same “only about things I really care about.”  And yet, the procrastinating perfectionist frequently fails to begin even an enjoyable project unless a perfect path can be laid out.

Doing nothing is frequently the safest choice for the uncertain perfectionist.

Fear of making mistakes is at the core of Perfectionism. Perfectionists will do almost anything not to fail or make a mistake.  The thought is that “if I make a mistake, I will be rejected or unlovable; people will know the truth about me”.  Perfectionism can prevent us from engaging in challenging experiences and realization of one's full potential. The true self can be hidden from discovery and playfulness, creativity and innovation can be stunted. 

The inability to take risks leaves the perfectionist with less opportunity for success in life than individuals with more realistic expectations.

Perfectionists can benefit from learning about perfectionism as it relates to procrastination. Awareness of faulty thought patterns, fears and behaviors associated with perfectionism can help with avoidance and performance anxiety. 

Chronic procrastinators must understand the reasons for procrastinating.  Being a perfectionist may be part of it, but procrastination can become habitual for other reasons as well: fear of success, time management or just being passive aggressive.  

Next time you have difficulty beginning a project or find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself what is the benefit of not getting started?  Is it because you feel overwhelmed with all the details of the unknown or is it just something you don't like to do?  Either way, the best solution is to get honest with yourself and get started.

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