perfectionism, procrastination and making progress

Today I want to talk about perfectionism, procrastination, and actually making progress.  Now that sentence makes me happy….nothing like a good dose of alliteration!

I think this post is timely, as during the holiday season we often get caught up in the perfectionism trap.  The desire for the perfect tree, family photo cards, and shopping for that just right present are real and create stress.  Unfortunately, this mentality decreases the joy of the season and has us forgetting about what is really important.

My belief is that perfectionism is a trap that we all get caught in far too often.  It is human nature to want to put your best foot forward and present well.  We tend to care about what others think of us.  This can be hard to break.  I’ve been there, and the feeling still takes hold of me from time to time.

For example, I had a birthday party for myself and the week of the party I had a strong desire to get my home a little more together.  You see, my house is a work in progress with my furniture and decor.  I left all of my furniture and belongings behind when I left my marriage, so when I moved into my own place friends and family generously gave me practically everything I needed for a comfortable home.  Some pieces I love, but others aren’t quite my taste.  So I started making trips to HomeGoods in search of that just right hall entry piece, artwork for my blank walls, and curtains to warm up the space.

Did I have to do any of this right now?  No, it was motivated by wanting my place to look a certain way for other people to see.  It caused me to pause and focus on this, when I could have been doing other things.

Here is the definition of perfect: “…having all of the desired elements, qualities, characteristics, as good as it is possible to be.  Free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; flawless…”

When we get caught in the perfectionism of things being “just right”, we pause and we hold back from actually doing.  We procrastinate and don’t move forward in life. 

It becomes an excuse.  The classic, “I can’t do this because x, y, & z.”

We end up using the “perfect condition” syndrome as rationalization for not taking action in life. 

The story we tell ourselves has the potential to limit us or propel us forward.

I have been caught in perfectionism many times in my life, from postponing a business launch to striving to make Martha Stewart-worthy cupcakes.

If the conditions are not just right, I pause.  This is normal.

However, I am aware of the trickster nature of perfectionism and how it limits growth and progress.

Perfectionism holds you back.

Today, I am an advocate of consistency, showing up each day, and taking those baby steps forward (they add up!).

When you show up for your daily workout or meditation, you never regret it.  Even when you aren’t your best or are tired (typical perfectionism excuses) but you show up and take a step forward, you have made progress.

Now that progress might not be visible each and every day, but over time you see the results. 

The goal should be progress, not perfection.

We aren’t going to get it just right or perfect every time, and that’s okay.  Learning from our mistakes is a huge component of progress, growth, and moving forward.  This helps us clarify our goals, and our wants and needs.

“There is no right way, so do it wrong.”

Fear of the unknown kept me stuck in my marriage for a long time.  I had a “perfect storm” that propelled me on this new journey, one that has actually been filled with progress.

My journey has not been perfect.  It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, mistakes, learning, growing, and changing.  Throughout it all, progress happened….even when I didn’t think it was.   

The interesting thing about coaching women through their divorce journey is that this is a journey of progress. 

The path of divorce is not perfect, there are many twists and turns.

There is no way this journey can be perfect, so it teaches you to let go.

Letting go of some expectations and preconceived notions lets you heal and move forward. If you are stuck in perfectionism, in feeling that things ‘have to be a certain way’, try letting it go. 

You might be surprised at how your path begins to feel easy and life starts to flow more in the direction of your dreams.

Do you get stuck in perfectionism?  Have you learned to overcome this?  If so, how has it helped you progress?

Let me know in the comments below.

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