Perfectionism and Procrastination

By Teri Breier on Mar 29, 2011 at 09:00 AM in Muse-ings

So far today, I've brewed and quaffed my morning tea (rooibos chai vanilla soy latte), fried up some eggs, wrote several business emails, caught up with colleagues on Facebook and read a few pages of the novel on my nightstand. What I haven't done yet is finish this blog post, which I started 3 hours ago. Yes, even writing goddesses procrastinate their marketing efforts. In fact, until last week, I spent 8 years stressing out about my non-existent website—even as I created compelling online content for dozens of clients!

One of my clients recently admitted that the moment she thinks about her website, she is overcome by tremendous resistance. Another professional hired me more than a year ago to build her marketing strategy from the ground up, then slammed on the brakes after my first round of taglines (which she loved).

Does this sound familiar? What's going on here?

In her best-selling book Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Strategies for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, my dear sister-goddess, business coach and author Eli Davidson bemoans our society's modern-day epidemic of "Perfectionitis." She points out that many of us strive for the impossible goal of Perfection rather than the realistic aim of Excellence. And that approach can literally bring us to a standstill.

"Perfectionitis sets you up for procrastination," says Eli. "Why? Some people are paralyzed by not wanting to make a mistake, get it wrong, look stupid, or, heaven forbid...fail. You postpone starting because you don't want to risk not meeting your own impossibly high standards. If you can never do it well enough, why do it anyway?"

Yep, she's got my number. Since everything I write—whether it's website content, newspaper ads, magazine articles, blog posts or Facebook status updates—reflects directly on my business as a writer, I get hung up on making every sentence exquisite. I agonize over each paragraph and sweat blood over my word choices. This is why my lovely content management system sat empty for months, patiently waiting for my brilliant, non-existing content.

Something had to change. So I took this simple, valuable advice about overcoming procrastination from another friend, John Seeley, author of Get Unstuck! The Simple Guide to Restart Your Life:

"Set a specific goal that you know you can achieve and break down each task into doable pieces. As you begin to complete these smaller tasks, your subconscious mind will begin to work with you to follow through on the rest. Don't beat yourself up if you don't complete something perfectly. It's best to just do it any way you can, to make some progress."

Several weeks ago, starting very small, I decided to spend one hour uploading several client testimonials to my website. After years of inactivity, that hour was like a rainstorm in the desert. I was astounded at how much energy I had after that tiny action...I got more accomplished that day than I had in months! Just because I took one little step forward on a long-stalled project.

Encouraged by my success, I was finally able to launch my business website last week. It's still not finished...it's not even close to perfect and isn't likely to be. But I realized that "good enough" really IS enough—and so very much better than nothing.

*****

Is there a marketing project you've been postponing forever? Share about it in the Comments section below and get a FREE consultation with The Writing Goddess. You'll also be entered in a drawing to win a signed, hardcover copy of Funky to Fabulous!

 

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