When Pursuing Perfection Becomes Procrastination

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Does pursing perfection become procrastination in your life? If you tell yourself that there’s no point in even starting if you’re not going to get it done “right,” it just may.

This is true in my life, and through interacting with others about this very topic, I am finding out that this is actually quite common.


In my house, my office becomes the dumping grounds for things that get thrown all over the kitchen counter. Mail, school papers, ripped books, and even toys like legos and polly pockets along with what must be hundreds of pens and pencils all thoughtlessly litter my kitchen counters every day. Since my office is just one doorway over, my office is often the “go-to” place when these things are required to move from the kitchen.

I have been cringing as I push the collected treasures to one side of my desk for the past couple of weeks, or, I have just been setting up camp someplace different altogether to avoid having to look at my office at all.

In all reality, since my office is also where all the paper, craft supplies, and extra school supplies are, it has been in need of an overhaul for quite some time, but because of the busy season of life I am in as a working full-time and going to school full-time widow, there has been no time to worry about it.

A complete overhaul means a larger time commitment to get it done right so the only lengths I have been going to when it comes to solving this problem is closing the door to my office as I walk past.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s not your office, but do you have something that you have been avoiding doing simply because you lack the time or ability to tackle the job according to your own expectations?

If so, I think you can agree with me that this is really quite silly. Certainly doing something is better than doing nothing.

We can also probably agree that if we were willing to just do what we can when we can, the project would get done eventually – and we’d probably even be happy with it!

The same happiness would also be ours if we came up with any kind of solution to our problem, even if it was just a temporary fix until we were able to deal with whatever it was completely.

So, if we are thinking in this vein, for those of us who are getting held up because we are pursuing perfection, what are we to do? How can we unravel our desire for perfection to avoid procrastination?

I find these steps to be the solution to our perfection/procrastination predicament.

Recognize that there is such a thing as imperfect progress

When discussing this topic briefly with others on Periscope, Laura quoted the FlyLady saying, “Progress not perfection.” Such wisdom there. The only way we can accomplish anything at all is by doing something – doing anything, in fact.

Be certain that your overall goal is set up for success

Check to see that your goal is: Set in real life, determine whether it is an Urgent goal or long term, Congruent with your values and beliefs, Close-ended, Easy to measure, Specific, and Sustainable for the long haul. You can read more about setting goals that spell SUCCESS in this post.

Third, develop your basic plan of execution, leaving room for detours and derailments

Try as hard as we may, these things are just a part of life.


Next, just start

You know where you’re headed. You have a basic idea of how you are going to get there. The only thing left to do is to jump in with both feet and start working toward your goal, even if your ending point is not your ideal goal.

Fifth, keep looking forward as the detours and derailments set you off course

Didn’t get as much done as you planned? That’s ok, you’ll get there. As Dory in Finding Nemo would say, “Just keep swimming!”

Next, remain aware of the wind direction

If you know anything about sailing, you know that the best sailors anticipate what the wind is going to do next because it is almost always changing ever so slightly. I took some sailing classes once. Let’s just say that I wasn’t very good at it.

Remaining aware of the wind direction as it pertains to working toward accomplishing our goals means anticipating detours before we actually get to them. Anticipating issues ahead of time means that we won’t be shaken by them when they occur. Did you have a child who became sick? Most likely, that will keep you from getting to your plans for the day. Recognize it, accept it, and move on.

Adjust your sails to account for the change of wind direction

Come up with a new way, a new plan, a new time, or a new method.

Remain focused on where you’re going

Even if it takes you twice as long to get there as you had planned, you will get there, eventually, and that is all that matters in the end.

Finish strong

Whenever and however you get there, celebrate the fact that you are there. You arrived, and you accomplished your goal. This will give you the momentum to move on to the next thing that you’ve been avoiding.

The interesting thing about procrastination in the pursuit of perfection is this:


Sometimes it can be so hard to take on something that we know we don’t have the time, the resources, the energy, or the ability to do well. Most times, however, it is still necessary to take that something on. Don’t let perfection be your excuse for doing nothing at all.

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