My name is Sean Callahan and I……… am a perfectionist!
What does being a perfectionist have to do with being a procrastinator? Well I believe that the desire to be “perfect” is one of the 3 reasons why we procrastinate.
Allow me to explain….
I am part of a men’s group, The 5% Club, that meets every other Saturday morning at 6:30am. During these meetings we discuss the 5% of “stuff” that we wouldn’t normally talk about anywhere else. The agenda for this coming Saturday posed the question among others, “what are things that I’m motivated to do but am currently not? Why?”
The question really shook up the 13 beans I have bouncing around in my skull. It wasn’t so much making the list of the things I’m putting off that was impactful. What shook me was the follow up, the “why?”
This is my attempt to answer “the why” and hopefully in turn provide to you a resource that will help you understand fundamentally “the why” of your procrastination.
Why We Procrastinate-
I think it’s important to first note that procrastination is not a character defect. Procrastination is simply an attempt to preserve our own self-worth. Procrastination is a neurotic form of self-defense behavior. We procrastinate when we fear a threat to our own sense of worth or independence. We only act lazy when our natural drive for fruitful activity is threatened or suppressed. People don’t procrastinate to feel bad, they/we/I do it to temporarily relieve deep inner fears.
As I led with in the opening line, I am a perfectionist. The fear of being imperfect causes me to procrastinate many of the things that I am interested in doing and to also procrastinate things that I am actually very good and skilled at. Dr. Theodore Rubin in his book Compassion and Self-Hate notes that this fear of being imperfect, along with the fear of failure, and the fear of impossible expectations are the deep fears that prevent us from obtaining our goals and desired outcomes.
If this makes sense to you and if you will give yourself a little time to consider the instances when you procrastinate and the circumstances that surround your behavior, you will find that procrastination is not the problem as we are often led to believe. With careful consideration you will find that procrastination is just a symptom of a deeper problem(s).
If you have struggled with procrastination in the past or like me struggle with it now and you and others keep saying that you should “just do it” or that ”you just need to try harder” or “getting organized is what you need” you are simply just treating the symptom and not the cause.
Procrastination is something that we learn and with that understanding we are granted the personal power and opportunity to unlearn it as well.
Stay tuned for the coming pieces as we take a deeper dive into the why, how, and what of procrastination.
Sean Z. Callahan