“Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.” – Michael Hyatt
I read this quote today and it really hit home for me. It hit home not only because of what I experience personally, but because of what I see in a lot of friends and students. I will fully admit it: I consider myself a perfectionist, or let’s say: a perfectionist in recovery. I strive for excellence in everything I do. I don’t like to “half ass” anything. That being said, I’m learning to work with doing the best that I can in the moment and then letting it go!
Let me explain. In my striving to be the best at anything I do, I would fall into the habit that if I didn’t achieve the lofty goals I set for myself, I wouldn’t finish whatever it was I was doing. Or worse yet, if I didn’t feel I could do something perfectly, I wouldn’t do it at all. If I did start something, but didn’t reach the pinnacle of perfection, it would get thrown into the pile of “I’ll finish this later.” As life went on, that pile grew and grew; writing projects, BLOGS, courses I was planning, building projects I was working on, and so forth.
I’d start to write something, or create something, but without the proper time to finish it, edit it, re-edit it, and create some magical unicorn profound version of perfection, I’d set it aside to be completed at some future time. My perfectionism then BECAME the reason not to complete things. It became a form of procrastination! I couldn’t make it perfect NOW, so I’d put finish it off for another time. And you know what came with that? Anxiety! Anxiety from all of these uncompleted projects. Grumbling around inside my head were legions of uncompleted projects and ideas, trapped under the weight of my own perfectionism.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Well, it’s been a pattern of mine for a long time, and it’s one I’ve been confronting a lot in recent months and years. One of the things that has helped me is the mantra “svaha“! It literally translates to “so be it” or “well said“. It is often said at the end of a longer mantra, and it is also typically said in the Vedic tradition whenever someone throws an offering into a sacrificial fire. Now, with the hopes that I don’t offend anyone, I kind of compare it to saying “fuck it.” It’s like… once you’ve thrown it into the fire, there’s nothing else you can do. You give it up to the flames, to the world, to the divine. Whatever it was, it’s out there now. There’s nothing left for you to change. You’ve given it to the flames… so what else is there to say other then fuck it? Svaha!
So I wonder, is being a perfectionist ruining the quality of your life? Is it preventing you from completing projects or putting your creations out into the world? Is it just another form of procrastination? I know it was ruining the quality of my life and stifling my offerings out into the world. It had become one of my primary forms of procrastination.
Sometimes, good enough today is better than perfect tomorrow. It’s ok if things aren’t perfect, because, if you’re a perfectionist anyway, perfect NEVER COMES, that idealized tomorrow never comes. There is always more to do. Always more ways you can add on, subtract, refine, make better… it’s a never ending vortex of mental misery. Sure, put your all into everything you do, give it your best, but at the end of the day, be ok with the results. There is always tomorrow. Always next time. That’s part of our process of growth as beings.
So do it! Put your offerings out into the world! Even if it’s not perfect today. Don’t let perfectionism be your procrastination!
As for me, I’ve got a lot of content that’s been piling up that is going to start to make it’s way out into the world.