Two things that could be hurting your business? Perfectionism and procrastination, and the loop the two can create. Let’s go over what this loop is, how it can hurt your business, and how to break it.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism can be seen as a positive trait to have. After all, it can serve us quite well in certain situations, such as taking the time to complete high-level final reports, presentations, and proposals right. But perfectionism isn’t usually necessary in day-to-day life, like when sending your team an email.
This unreasonable striving for perfection stems from a fear of failure and judgment, meaning that those who are perfectionists are their own harshest critics. This is often referred to as “self-abuse of the highest order” because the end goal can’t be reached as perfection doesn’t exist.
Even when perfectionists meet their goals, the feelings of success and accomplishment are temporary. For a perfectionist, there is always more that needs to be accomplished.
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of voluntarily delaying or putting off tasks. It’s not hard to identify, as it can look like doing laundry, surfing the web, or organizing your desk instead of completing what you’re actually supposed to be doing.
It’s important to clarify that procrastination isn’t laziness. It can stem from a variety of factors, including lack of focus, indecisiveness, lack of self-confidence, and fear of imperfection.
Perfectionists are often plagued with procrastination. When someone fears they won’t be able to complete the task perfectly, they’ll likely put it off. Even if the vision is clear and the ideas are well thought out, a perfectionist may repeatedly delay the start of a project.
Perfectionists feel anxiety about not achieving their goals. Procrastination allows perfectionists to not have to face their anxiety. However, procrastination causes its own feelings of shame, only perpetuating the perfectionistic way of thinking.
Enter: the perfectionism-procrastination loop. The loop is:
- You have perfectionist standards
- There’s a fear of failure
- There’s discomfort regarding an unsuccessful outcome
- The discomfort causes fear
- Discomfort and imperfection are avoided by procrastinating
This loop feeds into itself, so it’s easy to get caught up in it. But it can also feel comfortable to stay in it if it’s working.
So why break the loop?
The perfectionism-procrastination loop is a time waster and killer of production. Many entrepreneurs might tell you they haven’t launched their product/service/website yet because they feel it’s not complete. That it isn’t good enough. But by pushing the launch off, they’re hurting their business’s growth. Instead of launching and making money, the entrepreneur is stuck in the same place they’ve been.
The loop also takes its toll on both mental and physical health over time. Perfectionism can lead to dysfunctional thinking, causing discouragement, self-doubt, and mental exhaustion. On the flip side, procrastination can lead to constant stress, which can cause compromised immunity, digestive problems, and insomnia.
Helpful Strategies to Break the Loop
To break the loop, you need to actively change the way you think regarding perfection and procrastination. Here are a few helpful strategies:
The first step is to lower your expectations. Start by understanding the difference between excellence and perfection. Excellence is attainable through practice and expertise, while perfection is unattainable and fosters negative feelings from mistakes.
If we shift our mindset from a fixed one to one of growth, we can see that flaws are opportunities to learn and grow as opposed to catastrophic accidents. This process to shift your mindset and lower expectations won’t be quick. To get started on the right foot, remind your inner critic that it’s okay to make mistakes as you can go back and fix them later. It’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to be human!
And don’t forget that you have to start somewhere. Many successful ventures had humble beginnings. At some point, you need to act. Don’t wait until it’s flawless, because by then it might be too late.
Shrink Task and Goal Sizes
When tasks and goals are overwhelming, break them into smaller bite sizes. Instead of doing everything at once, break tasks into realistic steps and schedule time in advance to do so. This helps in overcoming perfectionism and its all-or-nothing way of thinking.
When you cross something off your to-do list, it can also help instill motivation to get more done. Small victories build momentum! So set your tasks up accordingly.
To mitigate overwhelming thoughts and feelings that lead to procrastination, remove distractions.
Put away anything that can interfere with your focus. That includes phones, tablets, books, and video games. There are great browser extensions and apps that can block distracting websites during your work day so you’re not spending valuable time on social media when you should be working.
Trick Your Mind
This action-based mind trick can help stop procrastination due to a fear of failure.
If you’re putting off the start of a project, prepare to do something instead of actually doing it. For example, instead of creating the presentation, jot down a few ideas of how the presentation will go. Then, you might as well do some web research and write down a few notes.
Once you start the task, it’s usually easier to continue. Eventually, the line will blur between getting ready to do it and actually doing it.
Ready to Take Action?
The perfectionism-procrastination loop is a difficult one to break. But with these tools, you can break the cycle, improve your way of thinking, and work towards growing your business.
We have been assisting small businesses with growth since 2008 and would love to help you out! We’re located in Cave Creek, Arizona, and Montrose, Colorado, but serve nationwide.