Would you call yourself a Procrastinating Perfectionist?
If you’re unsure of what the term means, allow me to explain, because if you’re here, there’s a good chance this describes you or someone you know.
Recently I was reading Quitter by one of my absolute favorite authors, Jon Acuff, and he tells a story of being a kid and having to clean his room. His mom would ask him to clean his room, but instead of straightening up his room, putting away his things, and tidying up a bit, he would want to go from having a messy room to having it be perfectly clean.
He describes how he would take all of the books from his bookshelf, dust the shelf, and begin to re-stack and organize the books. After spending hours on a two-square-foot area and making very little progress, he would give up. That is when his mom would call him a procrastinating perfectionist.
Instead of cleaning 100% of the room to an acceptable standard, he would give up after trying to clean a small area to a perfect standard.
Does this sound anything like you or someone you know?
Maybe it’s not cleaning your room. Perhaps it’s a blog you’re trying to launch, a business you’re trying to start, a podcast you’re trying to get off the ground, a new professional license you want to earn, or something else entirely.
Do you have that thing in your life that you just can’t seem to get done?
My Struggle with Perfection
I personally struggle with the procrastinating perfectionist problem quite a bit. As you may know from my about page, I had the idea for Daily New Year’s in October of 2017, and I began working on it immediately. However, it wasn’t until June of 2018 that I launched it.
Because I couldn’t seem to get it ready to launch—it was never quite done. But a close friend of mine encouraged me to launch it immediately because, in her words, “a blog can never be done.” So, I went home and launched it the very next day, and the rest is history.
In another example, last year I was working on my new book, Crush Your Goals!, and the problem resurfaced again—The Procrastinating Perfectionist persona was there, keeping me from publishing my book, robbing me from getting done.
I was trying to write, edit, design, and refine the book all at the same time. I couldn’t stand to only look at the book in Google Docs—I felt like I needed to see the final layout and design while I tried to write new chapters. But every time I added new content, I had to rearrange everything else in the book. It was a nightmare!
Again, a group of friends, my mastermind group, helped me overcome this problem. One of my groupmates told me about Self-Publishing School and I bought into the course immediately. From there, I followed the coursework and completed my book in about six months.
For me, the procrastinating perfectionist problem shows up again and again, but now that I know that about myself, I can work towards beating it. Is that something you would like to be able to do? Would you like to conquer procrastination once and for all?
If so, keep digging, and I’ll give you the exact strategies I use to overcome this pesky problem.
Beating the Procrastinating Perfectionist
Knowing that you have a procrastination problem is the first step in winning this particular war. Many people don’t or won’t admit or acknowledge this problem, and therefore, they can’t beat it. But you’re here, and you’re reading this post, so I’m guessing you already know what you’re up against.
Given that, here are three strategies I use to beat my perfectionism:
1. The 90 Percent Perfect Rule
The biggest piece of advice Jon gives in his book, and it’s one that has helped me tremendously, is this: “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”
That quote from Jon’s book forever changed how I looked at my blog posts, my podcasts, my book, and practically everything else that I do.
Spending five years making something perfect is just a stall tactic—a way to procrastinate if you will. If you think about Pareto’s Principle, by striving for perfection, you’re going to spend 80% of your energy trying to make something only 20% better.
Instead, why not spend 20% of your energy getting your project 80% done, and then release it to the world? From there, you can allow it to evolve based on feedback, iterate, and work towards making it better.
At the end of the day, delaying your project for weeks, months, or even years is only going to diminish the idea and make it weaker. Who knows, as time passes, someone else may even beat you to the punch. No matter how perfect you think you might be able to make something, you have to realize that there is no such thing as perfect, no matter how much time you take.
2. Acknowledge That There’s No Such Thing as Perfect
How would you describe the perfect vacation, piece of art, dinner, or career? As you can imagine, for every single person that reads this post, the idea of perfect for each of those things is going to be wildly different. Why? Because perfection lies within the eye of the beholder.
For me, the perfect dinner is a thick, juicy, medium-rare filet with mashed potatoes, but for you, it might be tofu, sushi, a PB&J, or any number of things. For my wife and me, the perfect vacation involves a lot of food, alcohol, and beaches. For you, it might be Disney Land or a quiet cabin in the woods. We’re all different, and perfect is different for everyone.
One of the quickest ways to ditch the procrastinating perfectionist mindset is to acknowledge and admit (out loud) that there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection isn’t real. Perfection isn’t real. Keep saying it with me.
You can spend five more hours, or even five more years on your project, trying to make it perfect, and I guarantee you that someone is going to hate it. Someone else is going to think it was a good idea but could have been done better. And then there are going to be the people who love it.
You might think if I had just a little more time, that maybe it could have been perfect. But no—no matter how long you spend, perfection is impossible, and shooting for it is only going to delay your future fans from seeing it. Instead, you have to employ the GETMO Technique.
3. Practice Craig Groeschel’s GETMO Technique
Every year I attend the Global Leadership Summit, a two-day leadership summit based in Chicago. It’s one of my favorite events to attend.
Just like Jon’s quote above, this was a massive game-changer in my life. In his talk, he reminded the audience that perfection is often the thief of progress, and the quest for perfection will limit what we’re able to achieve in life.
Do you want to spend your life doing five nearly perfect things, or doing a thousand really awesome, yet imperfect things?
As you strive to conquer the procrastinating perfectionist inside of you, remember, progress over perfection always wins the day, and you have to know when something is good enough to move on; otherwise you’re always going to be stuck spinning your wheels forever.
You’re going to dream up some big things for your life. Maybe you want to start a new business or non-profit, or perhaps you want to master a new skill such as cooking or writing poetry. No matter which goals you decide to pursue in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, try to remember that nothing is going to be perfect, especially at first.In fact, as you struggle through starting something new, what you produce might be pretty imperfect at first (maybe even bad), but the only way to improve is to keep trying.
If you want to start a business or a non-profit, remember that a business that isn’t open isn’t making money, and a non-profit that isn’t operating isn’t helping people.
I’m not suggesting that you rush into something without thinking it through, but your new business or non-profit won’t be anywhere near close to perfect on day one, and you won’t have nearly everything figured out, but at some point, what you have will have to be good enough to move on.
If you want to become a master chef, cooking for people and requesting honest feedback are going to be essential to your growth. Take classes, practice at home, but at some point, share your progress with friends and family or enter into some cooking competitions.
If you want to become a published poet, write as often as you can and share your work with other writers, professors, or poetry fans. Not everyone will enjoy or appreciate your work, but don’t wait for it to be perfect before you decide to share it with the world.
As you’re reading this blog post, even despite being a major Grammarly fan, I’m sure you’ll find that it’s far from perfect. I’m sure I’ve missed a thing or two or could have included some additional strategies, quotes, inspiring stories, and so on, but at the end of the day, I wanted to release a blog post that would help people just like you to crush their procrastination problem.
If it weren’t for my friends and family and people like Jon Acuff and Craig Groeschel, I would still be writing, editing, and rewriting my book. Instead, they helped me embrace the GETMO technique, and my book is now published. Woohoo!
The Struggle is Real, but You Can Beat It
My innate need for things to be perfect is something I struggle against every day, but I’m always trying (with help) to improve upon my mindset and overcome my hangups, and you can too.
The three strategies I’ve outlined above have helped me overcome several stalled projects in the past, and they continue to help me move beyond the procrastinating perfectionist problem almost daily.
It can be frustrating, but the last thing I’ll tell you here is that nothing can be perfect, especially our mindsets. There will always be room for growth and improvement, but we can’t let that keep us from progressing.
So remember, 90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head, there’s no such thing as perfect, and progress over perfection always wins the day.
So with that in mind, I’ll say GETMO and wrap this post up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I hope it helps you Crush Your Goals!
Until next time, take care!