Don’t mistake procrastination for perfectionism

I’ve hinted before at how painfully long it took me to write my first post. I threw every idea I had out the window, because I wanted this little site of mine to be perfect.

Hiding behind perfectionism
Through each stage of the process, I never felt as though I was gaining momentum. When I crossed one milestone, I got stuck in the next phase. WheIdeasn I finally decided what I wanted to write about, I couldn’t determine what my name should be. When I got a name on lockdown, the domain wasn’t available. When I swiped the credit card on the domain, I couldn’t decide what WordPress theme I wanted.

How exhausting is that?

I agonized over each decision, from the title of my first post to the color and fonts I should use. I did this even when everyone around me said, “Don’t worry about the details, because in a few months you’ll change your mind and rebrand anyway anyway.”

In other words: just.write.the.damn.thing.

I attributed my indecisiveness and delays to my being a perfectionist, when really this was a label I was hiding behind. What I was really doing was procrastinating.

I recently read an article that pinned procrastination on impulsiveness—that those who have a harder time focusing on the long-term procrastinate, because it’s another way to sacrifice delayed gratification for short-term gain. This summarizes me to a T. I have always been an impulsive person. I love this about myself. It does me no favors, however, when I’m setting out to accomplish something that has multiple milestones, mini projects, and steps tied in to it.

I recently moved back to D.C., which is just my favorite city in the whole damn world. I moved here straight after college, met an amazing group of friends who are my mini-East-coast-family, and when I returned all they said was, “It was like you never left.”

Friends

The only problem with returning to a city where I already have a network of great friends (who I would not trade the world for, mind you) is that it has made me extremely placid in forming new relationships. Why would I go to happy hour with ten strangers, pay for overpriced drinks, talk to people who I probably won’t have anything in common with anyway; when I have a perfectly good set of friends waiting for me?

Recently, I told myself I needed to man the F up and expand my network of friends. This instantly gave me anxiety, as though I had completely forgotten how to initiate a conversation. I can remember asking my friend Derrick, “But how do I just talk to a total stranger? How do I start that conversation? Do you just walk up and interrupt their current conversation? What if they think I’m a total weirdo???”

His response: Girl, it’s not like you’re not going to be batting 500.

Amen to that.

I love this quote by Gretchen Rubin which says, “There is nothing more exhausting than the task that is never started.” I wasn’t going to become best friends with every person I was introduced to at happy hour—but, I wouldn’t have the friends I have now if I hadn’t gone to those outings in the first place. I wasn’t going to have the next-Steve-Jobs-worthy-idea—but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had always thrown my ideas away. I might hate 90 percent of all the posts I write—but I would never post that one article I was dying to share if I never hit publish on WordPress.

I don’t know where this mindset came from, or how I became such a frequent offender of it:

  • That if we can’t fit a 10 mile run into our day, we would rather not run at all than compromise with a quick 5k.
  • That if we can’t publish an entire cookbook, we don’t start with just one recipe.
  • Or, that if we can’t have an award-winning podcast or blog, we don’t start with that one article.

Never misinterpret perfectionism for procrastination, or for fear of doing something. You’re not going to bat 500 all the time, but that one home run will never be possible if you don’t take the first swing.

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For All the F Words
You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.