Procrastination and personality III: The perfectionist

Procrastination and personality III: The perfectionist

In the previous posts I talked about two types of procrastinators, and I mentioned that there were four that were common; and this is important to know because so many times we look for solutions that fit one type of personality but will not work for the other types of personalities. We need to understand what type of personality trait is behind our procrastination in order to apply a personalized and tailor fit solution. Click here if you would like  to know what kind of procrastinator you are. Let me tell you, the results might surprise you. You will also find my guide to understanding and overcoming procrastination and shiny object syndrome.      

Going back to our topic, today I am going to talk about the perfectionist. Oh yes, the perfectionist. It’s a type of procrastinator that cannot complete a project until it looks and feels perfect. When this type of procrastinator does not  meet deadlines usually -100% of the time- he will give you an excuse that sounds like: “if I only had more time”. Basically, they claim they needed more time in order to create the perfect project. 

You can see another sign of this type of procrastinator when he has a project, but will not move forward with it unless he has the equipment, environment, and  resources to make it perfect. For instance, you want to start a podcast, or a YouTube channel but you want to find the perfect lights, microphones, equipment and so on and until you have those, until it doesn’t look “professional enough” (meaning, perfect, to avoid rejection) you refuse to move forward. 


We can include here the extremely analytical person who falls into analysis paralysis. Once, I have heard of someone who took more than a year just to decide what piece of equipment he was going to use! Sometimes they will come up with the excuse that they need to plan very well. Which is true. You have to think and create a good plan, but plans in paper or -worse- just in mind- are just mere wishes, fantasies.


Also this kind of procrastinator, like the dreamer, sets up unrealistic goals, like hitting 20K in a month. Big goals can be attainable. But, you need to consider the resources you have and other factors before you go. Unattainable goals can trap you in procrastination because you feel like “oh I am not going there, hmmm better stop, I need to reconsider, how is it going is not perfect”. 


Finally this type of procrastinator usually sees the world in black or white; i.e. Sine Qua Non. If this is not done, or not present, then the project can not be completed. “If it is not perfect, good enough, then it is not worthy, it is  not ok”. But let us be honest, what is the perfect business? What is the perfect career? What is the perfect relationship? Do such standards really exist? Think about it.

So how do we move forward when we are perfectionists?

First of all, change your mindset and make this your daily motto: “PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.” It is in the process where we grow. It is in the process that we become a better version of ourselves. It is the level of engagement that we have in the process that will let us enjoy the results. You want to have great results? You want to do a great job? Engage in the process. Practice. The results are attached to your performance and this will not improve unless you take action. You can make things better while you go. 

Stop comparing yourself with others. An example in my own life is  when I used to play the guitar, most of my time, I did not  want to record because I did not think I was  as good as Yngwie Malmsteen, or Eddie Van Halen. But, let’s face it, those dudes have been playing for a long time! I was never going to play like them. I had to play like me. I had to invest in practice and enjoy the process. So it is the same with a career, a business, or a family. Do not expect to be Tony Robbins, or Warren Buffet when you are just starting. Just be you and accept failure as a valuable lesson that God is giving you to improve, in order to achieve your goal. 


Other practical steps that will help you are:


Once you are aware of your perfectionism problem -when you start a project- ask questions like: What are the basics this project needs to work? Truly, what do I really need to make it work? 

Set realistic expectations regarding a project. Let’s say you want to create an online course., define your topic. Do not try to talk about everything in the matter so you feel you have it well done. It is the same idea if you need to prepare a sales presentation or an article. 

Make a list of the required tasks to accomplish your goals or projects. From that list, which ones are the most important? Apply 80/20. I guarantee that usually two or three tasks from that list will be the ones that put your projects on the run. In doing so you will avoid trying to make things more complicated, or adding more tasks to make the project “perfect.”

This does not  mean you do not do anything else, but the other tasks could be things you can delegate, or get help from someone else. And do not  try to micromanage. Set the results you want. Communicate clearly, but let your team work for you. Because very often, perfectionists want to micromanage every part of the process and the team. Avoid this temptation. In fact, when you do this, you can make other people work in a less effective way.

Remember again: PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Peace to you! God bless!

Ricardo Pinedo

Co-Funder and NeuroCoach

If you prefer to watch the video, here it is:

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