Maybe you’re tired of your inner “shoulda-woulda-coulda” voice, but you’d never call yourself a perfectionist because you tend to procrastinate. Guess what? Perfectionism (trying too hard to make it just right) and procrastination (deciding to do something and then not doing it) are like first cousins who pretend they aren’t related.
As a procrastinating perfectionist, you may not finish a job application, take that vacation, or organize your closet. You may avoid creating new friendships, singing in the choir, or calling a counselor, because you’re afraid of making a mistake, being laughed at, failing others—or yourself. Delaying decisions becomes a habit. Although it may seem like a laid-back approach to life, it’s often painful and limiting.
You can change your procrastinating tendencies. Just starting is a step out of the procrastination trap.
1. Instead of expecting to be the best (employee, parent, musician, you fill in the blank ________) in comparison to everyone else, commit to become the best version of yourself.
2. Limit all-or-nothing thinking. Choose your favorite color (deep red, ocean blue, sunshine yellow?) and the next time you feel stuck and start to procrastinate, brainstorm your options in that color instead of mere black and white. You do have choices.
3. When you’re tempted to procrastinate and postpone another task because it seems too hard or time-consuming, set the timer for 20 minutes. When the alarm sounds you can walk away or re-set for another 20.
4. Find a caring accountability partner who’ll listen to your frustrations without judging or trying to fix you and your procrastinating ways and then who will celebrate with you when you succeed.
5. Stand up to the shoulda-woulda-coulda tyrant in your head. Tell him to sit down and hush because you can make progress without him!
Just as you develop physical muscle by consistently exercising your body, you can develop mental/emotional muscle by consistently practicing these and other anti-procrastination exercises. Freedom, here you come.
You really love this, don’t you? You’re so animated when you’re busy working. Although my client meant this as a compliment, I gagged when I heard her words. To me, they represented a lifestyle I’d tried to ditch. Anything that reminded me of my excessive behavior felt like a punch in the gut. I get a high when rushing, working and finding solutions.
I am an adrenaline junkie. What do I mean?
What helps you become friends with tranquility again?
“I know I’m late. But I don’t feel like I’m being productive or that I’ve achieved my goals unless I’m rushing and at least a half-hour late for each appointment,” said my client as he burst through the door and sprinted past me toward our conference room.
My internal reaction was: Well, Vic, you must feel a great sense of accomplishment today! He had arrived one and a half hours past our scheduled appointment time. Although I didn’t share his philosophy, something in his behavior rang a bell with me. Perhaps I was in awareness-mode, because several weeks later I admitted my own workaholic lifestyle. I was burned-out and wanted to change.
Slowly I began to understand that the narrower definition of a workaholic is someone who is addicted to action. An action addict (like Vic and me) is driven to do too much, expect too much, rush too much and prove too much. Some refer to it as the “hurry sickness.” It can happen to either gender, yet Dr. Brent W. Bost, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Beaumont, Texas estimates that there are 30 million women in America who are so over-scheduled and over-stressed that it negatively affects their physical health, sex life, jobs, and relationships.
The next time someone gives you the ultimate compliment for an action-addict: “You’re so busy. How do you do it all?” consider letting that be a signal to STOP. The antidote to action-addiction is to cease doing for a while. Be quiet. Rest. It will feel wrong. Your body, mind and emotions tell you that you must keep going.
This advice to cease doing for a while reminds me of Psalm 46:10 in The Message: “[Stop!] Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
Experts insist that this is a vital step, just as it is important for the alcoholic-addicted person to stop drinking. Your body needs to detox from the chemicals aroused by your constant action. It will be quite difficult--and so worth it. For more information about action-addiction watch for next week's blog “Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?”
What would it take for you to STOP for a while?
Yesterday was "Fight Procrastination Day" and I procrastinated in posting this blog to my site. Does that mean I put the "PRO" in procrastination?
The dictionary indicates that to procrastinate means to defer action, to delay until an opportunity is lost. Dr. Ellis, a counselor who specializes in the issue of procrastination, defines procrastination as deciding to do something and then not doing it.
Now, I want to clarify something. Delay and procrastination are not the same thing. There may be a legitimate reason for a delay. Procrastination is "to delay until it is too late."
For example, say you received the brochure for a conference related to your field of interest. You read it, the workshops looked beneficial to you and you made the decision to go. But then you set the info aside and put off following through by calling to ask your questions, checking your calendar and registering...until it was too late. Then the day of the conference arrived and the opportunity was gone. You missed it.
If this is your modus operandi and you really want to do it differently, there is hope. You can change.
And here are 10 practical tips for ceasing to put the "PRO" in procrastination. (Not in order of importance)
Which tip will you try this week?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.