Perfectionism and Procrastination - 
A Deadly Duo to Inspired Life Change


The deadly duo of perfectionism and procrastination are two more mind habits to master. It's ironic but true that the very drive to better yourself and excel at your endeavors - can also work against you if you're not careful. Aiming for an unattainable ideal of perfection, for example, is demotivating. It's a moving target that keeps on receding as you draw near. Not very motivating is it? Procrastination sets in. On the road to inspired life change watch out for procrastination and perfectionism - you'll often see them walking hand-in-hand. 

When Striving for Perfect Is Flawed

“Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect. It makes you feel inadequate.”

~Maria Shriver

Striving to excel and perfect is admirable. That is...

... until it isn't.

You want to improve things, making them even better than they were before. You want to discover or invent better methods - you find easier, more efficient ways of doing things. You search for effectiveness by stripping away non-essentials. You push the envelope. You grow and evolve - inspired life change is constantly on its way.

How perfect is that?

If only we could stop there.

Striving for excellence is one thing. Allowing yourself to be satisfied with nothing short of attaining the ideal is quite another. Resistance immediately rears its ugly head. Friction and pressure mount. Struggle ensues. 'Analysis paralysis' may even set in - causing you to fall into the chasm between your need to take the next step, and your desire for that next step to be the 'perfect' one.

Perfectionism and procrastination have just caused you to shoot yourself in the foot half way up the mountain of ideals. Excellence - though striven for - gets pushed further and further away. 'Perfect' has just devolved into anything but.

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A Different Take on Achieving Your Ideals

What I'm about to say next may not sound very politically correct, but here goes...

You're probably better off regarding your ideals as something never to be achieved. Your ideals lead you to your achievements; but the ideal itself can never become one those achievements. An ideal is never meant to be achieved.

Ideals are bait, a mirage. They aren't the fish, the real thing. Next time you're struggling to complete a project or an assignment due to the deadly combo of perfectionism and procrastination, remember this. Your ideal isn't the goal. The goal is what happens along the way, so get moving!

Beat Perfectionism and Procrastination With 'Perfectly Fine'

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."


Aristotle was definitely on to something with the quote above - the road under your feet is where perfection and excellence is to be found. It's in the 'here', not 'there'. It's in the 'now', not 'later'. Perfectionism and procrastination can only enter the picture when you get way ahead of yourself.

When you look down at your 'feet' what do you see? When you avert your gaze from the tantalizing ideals and images populating the future, what are you left with? Being asked to step out of the mind in this way - you encounter the body. How does it feel? How do you feel?

Are you feeling perfectly fine, or is perfection still imparted to a future yet to be defined?

Put distracting thoughts about the future aside - and you can feel where you stand. Are you feeling perfectly fine or are you postponing that feeling for another - more perfect time? Excellence isn't only something you repeatedly do; it must be something you repeatedly feel too.

What if you regarded perfection of feeling right here and now? Would that draw you closer or take you further away from your ideal and how? Strive for perfectly fine to keep perfectionism and procrastination at bay. Work skillfully with your subconscious mind to master your feelings and the rest of your day.

How Do You Know You're Mastering Perfectionism and Procrastination

You know you're being dominated by the perfectionist and procrastinator within when... 

  • You feel resistant in approaching projects or tasks you consider important. The level of perfection you know you'll be demanding of yourself to complete them, scares you. 

  • You experience 'analysis paralysis' more often than you care to admit or think about. You go deep, but end up feeling increasingly ineffective in your efforts. 

  • Your fear of making mistakes keeps you from making progress. Making mistakes as a way of learning and moving forward doesn't really register as a viable option.

  • You experience significant stress, tension and struggle in your work. You feel largely dissatisfied with the way things are going.

  • Your anxious, even rigid, in approaching new things and situations in life. You get overwhelmed quite easily due to the perceived enormity and sheer variety of details.

You know you're beginning to master the perfectionist and procrastinator within when...

  • You look forward to hunkering down and tackling the task at hand. You're confident in your ability to let things flow. You know you can always go back and revise again if you have the time and really want to. 

  • You've learned to balance depth with breadth. You pride yourself not only on plumbing vertically, but in making horizontal progress as well. You step out of the mind to take measurable actions that show results.

  • You've come to regard mistakes as stepping stones to look forward to. You don't intentionally aim to fail, but mistakes are no longer something to dread or avoid at the cost of progress. 

  • More and more of your work is characterized by effortless flow. You fret less about the details and really come to enjoy the process so much more than you ever used to. 

  • You approach new things and situations in life with greater ease and fluidity. You trust you'll respond with what the situation calls for. You don't feel the pressure to live up to an 'ideal' rigidly held by the mind.

The Imperfection of Ideals

The challenge of perfectionism and procrastination comes from confusing ideals with achievements. The former is meant to lead to the latter, but they aren't one and the same.

After all, what is perfect? How is it to be measured? How do you decide when an ideal has become an achievement? Idealistic perfection, it seems, is a target constantly on the move.

The mind doesn't like moving targets. In search of the 'perfect solution', the 'perfect plan' or the 'perfect next step' - the mind freezes. Analysis paralysis sets in - the mind gets itself into a bind. 

The trap of perfectionism is that it gets you so intently focused on results that you end up psyching yourself out of taking the necessary steps to completion. Instead of feeling perfectly fine in the present, you feel deeply disheartened.

Frustration and dissatisfaction set in. Mastering perfectionism and procrastination is to step out of the mind - returning to the reality of the moment, the only place perfection and excellence can truly be won.

Other Mind Habits You May Do Very Well to Master...

Clinging to your comfort zone 

The fear of fear 

Comparing yourself to others 


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