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Putting things off


Many of us struggle with getting things done in a reasonable period of time. We seem to require a deadline, and often work right up to that point, before we can feel we’ve accomplished what’s expected. Procrastination is often a symptom of perfectionism. Why is this?

We perfectionists struggle with the feeling that what we are working on is never quite right, and we can’t call it complete until it is perfect. We worry that if it is not perfect, we will be judged as “less than” and to us perfectionists, this feels like rejection. And rejection means we are loved a little less than we hope to be. So we feel anxious and fearful and have a hard time moving forward, much less completing the task before us.

Ironically, the anxiety that accompanies perfectionism can make it even more difficult to dive in and complete the assigned task. Perfectionism, in addition to promoting procrastination, can be paralyzing. We find it stressful to take on tasks because we cannot handle the possibility that it might not be perfect, So what can we do to get back on track?

As with many sources of anxiety, we can benefit from being more mindful of the sources of our anxiety - the perfectionism that results in procrastination. When we are faced with a project which we know we will have a difficulty completing by a certain deadline, be honest and try to understand what we fear. What will happen if we fail? Will we become unloved or unloveable? Will we be rejected? Do we fear failure, or do we fear success? The fear of success stems from the fear that we will be viewed as different or weird, and therefore rejected by our peers or family. Like most fears and anxieties, this is rooted in irrational thought. So here’s what you can do:

Make a list the things you have been putting off. With holidays approaching, this may be daunting, but don’t let that stop you - it is just a list! Set realistic goals, and try to move forward with one or two each day. Be mindful of the fact that you are still fine, the world is unchanged, and your relationships are intact, no matter how much you complete. (This can be a great journaling opportunity). And as you tick things off your list you may realize that neither the completed nor the unfinished will hurt you. Once you know you are ok, you can move forward with those anxiety producing tasks, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that results!

Yours in health,

John E. Monaco, MD

MONACO Wellness

my cell: (813) 541-6440

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