Tuesday, August 7, 2012

on procrastination and perfectionism (Part 1)

Why do you procrastinate? What does your procrastination look like?

For most of us, most of the time, procrastination is just an avoidance or delay of the discomfort that one will incur by performing the task at hand. I don’t want to wash the dishes because I’m tired. So I procrastinate. I watch TV instead. I don’t want to clean the bathroom because it is nasty, and I get hot every time I clean the bathrooms. I procrastinate. I go swimming instead. I don’t want to struggle anymore with this piece that I’m writing. I procrastinate. I sweep the kitchen floor instead. I don’t want to fix dinner; I don’t even want to think about cooking dinner. I procrastinate. I play sudoku instead.

Let me tell ya’, I am a master procrastinator.

I have been noticing lately all of the unfinished projects that I have and all of the other ones that have not even made it from my brain to something you can actually see, feel or touch. I began to ask myself, what on earth is going on here? Why is it that I find so many things to do and so few of them to finish?

I really didn’t like the answer to my questions. I noticed that sometimes, most of the time, it wasn’t that I was just delaying the discomfort of the task; there was something much deeper that I was running from. Even though I didn’t like my answers, I’m going to share it with you anyway. Perhaps we could all benefit from looking deeper into what makes us procrastinate.

I noticed that when I procrastinate, what I’m really doing is delaying the Imperfect.

One of my many menacing issues in life is a constant struggle with perfectionism. Do I have any sisters out there? (no need for my real sisters to answer that question, we each came by it honestly, and just for the record, they are worse than me. Just kidding.)

My mind is very good at conjuring up all kinds of wonderful masterpieces, or if I can’t come up with any of my own, through pinterest and a plethora of other fabulous creative blogging women I have plenty of marvelous projects in my mind that are just waiting to be tackled.

The problem is, because I tend to be such a perfectionist, once I begin a job, sooner or later I start to notice that the final result is not going to be this perfect thing that I had envisioned. The next logical step then, in my mind, is to stop, drop and roll away.

Accepting the fact that I am imperfect and that everything I ever do is going to be imperfect is really hard. I fight this all of the time. I find that the best defense I have against imperfection is just to leave it incomplete. It is much easier to say, “it isn’t finished” than “it’s not perfect”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in excellence in everything we do and giving the best we possibly can. But if we spend our lives trying to be perfect, we will never be able to enjoy the imperfect, which is pretty much everything, so we can’t enjoy life the way we were supposed to enjoy it. We skip from one unfinished project to another and all we have to show for it is frustration; Or if we do finish, discontentment instead of a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Solomon in the midst of all his toiling wisely discovered this truth in Ecclesiastes 2:24.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

In a small nutshell, our work is a gift from God; our souls are to enjoy our work, not the end result. If the perfect end result is what we are aiming for, since it will always be imperfect we won’t be able to enjoy it.

Do your best; don’t put it off. Enjoy away in your good labor, it is, after all, “from the hand of God.” Offer it up to the Lord.

Then, delight yourself in his perfection.


  1. I am so blessed to read your post... thanks for sharing your story. I am making cupcakes for a client and for first time in my life I made a batch with the wrong amount of flour... I REALLY needed to read this tonight! :D

  2. by the way... when I said the first time in my life, it was specifically related to the flour, I can be so gifted that I have totally mistaken any other ingredient too!