How perfectionism compounds procrastination.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” ~ Voltaire

I haven’t blogged in a while.  At first, it was a simple lapse in discipline (not writing is super easy and amazingly fun), but then I started feeling guilty, and then and shame compounded my non-writery.  Then, worst of all, I started getting lofty.  As I’d been away for a while, I wanted to produce something that justified all the time I hadn’t been writing.  Surely, I thought, my sloth can be mitigated if I emerge from the desert with an absolutely brilliant idea that changes everything.

Nope.

I spent the last week doing preliminary notes  for an e-book on a marvelous theory of everything, but it got too lofty, and it collapsed under its own weight.  It now exists in a little folder on my hard drive with all the other lofty projects that I’m honestly never going to review.  I saw this disaster coming.  Subconsciously, I could smell the looming scent of total failure, but all the while, I said to myself “surely I’ll finish this!  Only greatness can forgive my lamentable lack of action.”

Nope.

So let’s turn my failure into a teachable moment:  I lapsed in discipline and felt bad, but the guilt of perfectionism prevented more writing than simple laziness alone.   To paraphrase Bill Clinton, I let the ‘perfect’ become the enemy of the ‘good enough,’ and my output suffered for it.  The moral here is that everyone will lapse in their discipline.  The important thing is to forgive yourself and move on, don’t let the pain of one missed day turn into the agony of an entire missed month.

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2 thoughts on “How perfectionism compounds procrastination.

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  1. The important lesson is to be realistic -hopeful, but realistic- in your expectations. Nobody writes a screenplay in a week without serious pharmaceutical help and it usually sucks. I tell my students: How do you eat a building? One bite at a time.

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