Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, you’re not alone. Approximately 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the hope of achieving their goals. But here is the catch. The failure rate of these resolutions is around 91%. This means that only 9% of people feel they are successful in keeping their resolutions. So, what is the reason behind this high failure rate? One of the reasons is setting unrealistic goals. However, there’s another reason that’s often overlooked: our tendency towards procrastination and perfectionism.
Perfectionism is nothing but fear manifesting itself as a mental block. We’re afraid of change, and our subconscious is wired to favor the status quo. It believes that your choices so far have led to your survival, and any changes will be risky. Procrastination is just another manifestation of fear of change and attachment to the status quo.
If you consider yourself a perfectionist, what do you mean? Do you mean you won’t stop working on something until you have achieved perfection? Or do you mean you won’t embark on an endeavor until you are confident that the outcome will be perfect? If you belong to the latter group, you might want to consider that this perfectionism-procrastination loop is nothing but an excuse to avoid change and avoid stepping out of your comfort zone.
To prevent this procrastination-perfectionism loop, you must recognize it. Recognize the fear behind your claims of perfectionism and be honest with yourself. Don’t introduce judgment and overly harsh self-criticism in the equation, as they are equally debilitating as your subconscious fear of change. Consider yourself an impartial observer and witness what’s going on within you.
Next, you must learn how to set intentions properly. If you are always making vague goals, it’s time you ask yourself why you keep setting such unclear targets. Would a perfectionist set out to make “more money” this year and leave it at that? Or would they set a clear, specific, and measurable goal for themselves? Setting out with an ill-defined destination will make it difficult to set an accurate course towards it. Without a clear and measurable goal, you’ll be wandering around in the wilderness.
You need to connect to your goal purposefully and subconsciously, just like we do daily mundane activities such as grocery shopping. If you take grocery shopping as an example, it’s not just a task on your to-do list but something that you do for survival. You know what you need to get and why, and you’ve already achieved your goal in your mind. All that’s left is physically going through the process without even thinking much about what you’re doing.
Reaching out for help and mentorship is another effective way to break the procrastination-perfectionism loop. You cannot expand in a vacuum, and you need others to support your journey and provide you with objective feedback. By understanding what the wider community and market consider to be the ideal outcome for something, you’ll get a much more realistic idea of what you need to be aiming for. From there, you can identify what you’re lacking and plug those gaps.
Try to be conscious of the language you’re using when you talk to others and with the internal monologue. What are you telling yourself? If you consistently find yourself using language like “I must be perfect” or “I have to slim down significantly,” then try replacing them with more measured and specific language like “I will aim for the best possible outcome” or “I will aim to lose 10 pounds in two months, starting today.”
Perfectionism doesn’t provoke an irrational delay of tasks, but a desire to continue taking action long after the point of an acceptable outcome. Recognize that you are human and accept that mistakes and setbacks are part of the journey. Don’t beat yourself up for your flaws, and instead, shift the stories or belief systems that you have been running on to overcome them.
In conclusion, don’t let the fear of change hold you back and prevent you from achieving what you set out to do. Learn to recognize your perfectionism-procrastination loop, set clear and measurable intentions, and seek help and mentorship. Don’t be too hard on yourself, accept your flaws as part of the journey, and be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone.