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AUTHOR: Elle TITLE: Is perfectionism just an excuse not to finish anything? STATUS: Publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 CATEGORY: Perfectionism CATEGORY: Overcoming the procrastination habit CATEGORY: Breaking the procrastination habit DATE: 07/10/2006 07:03:21 AM ----- BODY:

Are you the kind of person who puts off doing things because:

OK, first things first:

Standards and expectations are subjective. What you might consider easy, someone else may find difficult and vice versa. Brain surgery is not considered difficult for a brain surgeon.

So the next question is - if the item is well within your capabilities - why aren't you doing it and doing it to the best of your abililty? Are you waiting for something or someone to jolt you out of your miserable way of thinking? Or are you waiting for some unseen point in the future? I'll wait until the kids leave home before I...; I'll go on that diet once I've eaten all the "bad"  food we have in the fridge; I'll wait until i've won a million on the lottery before I... or until great aunt dorothy dies and leaves me that house in the 'burbs! Put it like this - you might be waiting an awful long time.

If the item(s) are outside your normal zone of comfort - the next question has to be asked - why aren't you willing to challenge yourself and your thinking? If you are not willing to challenge yourself you might as well go and buy a long box and go and sit in it. The effects are about the same.

It seems to me - that perfectionism is just an excuse - either not to finish anything that you start, or not to bother starting anything in the first place. So what happens? You burn the midnight oil to get whatever it is completed, because you failed to start "it" at a reasonable time. You probably justified your actions by finding other more "important" things to do. And because you managed to get something finished and handed in - OK it wasn't your best effort, well you didn't have time did feel justified in deluding yourself that it is OK to keep on delaying and putting things off, until you can do so no longer. In the real world - extensions just don't happen. Does this form of procrastination serve you any better than standing in a corner with your arms folded across your chest, saying - no, I'm not going to do that - because I don't want there!!

Probably not, at least you would be less stressed (out of work perhaps) but less stressed, but at least you'd be honest with yourself and everyone around you.

So stop dotting the i's and crossing the t's !! and just get on with it. Now is all the time there is, so stop wasting it. It might be a cliche, but it is also true that you only have one shot at today and every day at your life - do you want to get to the end of it, sitting in your long box wondering what might have been.

----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Pissed off!!! EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 05/04/2007 12:35:37 PM Your insinuation is that people with perfectionist related procrastination should just get over it and change shows nothing but your ignorance and arrogance. YOU change a lifelong behavior by someone telling you to 'get over it'. Maybe you should stop being so arrogant because i said so. How bout some useful advice, like how to deal with the paralyzing fear and depression that comes with being a perfectionist! Maybe it is easy for you to espouse this crap when you don't realize the large part perfectionism has in mental health problems such as anxiety and major depression, not to mention suicide. Or do you just need to criticized others to make yourself feel better in you pathetic little life. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: June Beckons EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 05/05/2007 08:14:24 AM I would admit to being a perfectionist, and also confess that it's a self-defeating behaviour rather than a 'quality'. Some people wear it as a Badge of Honor. I have an associate - an author - who has for ten years been 'perfecting' her series of books. Just when it's close to finishing, she insists on re-editing to make it (her words) perfect. I wonder whether this is just putting off judgement day, because no publisher will judge (or even read) a half finished manuscript. Elle is posing questions rather than being prescriptive. When she gets around to voicing an opinion, she prefaces the statement 'it seems to me ...' Obviously prescription follows diagnosis. If a pathology suggests that perfectionism is symptomatic of a form of depression, then clearly no amount of advice in itself will have an effect. For those of us who admit to hiding behind perfectionism to put off judgement day, the first step is just that: admission. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: concerned EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 05/05/2007 09:31:09 AM interesting discussion going on here.

The thing that bothers me is the medical professions over prescription of prozac and zoloft for everything and anything related to depression and anxiety. surely there has to be some sort a middle ground. What happened before these things were "invented"?

Did people go abd buy their long boxes and sit in them as Elle suggests....sick Elle, totally sick....or what????

lets keep the discussion going folks, Elle - comments please????? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: June Beckons EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 05/05/2007 10:41:21 AM There's a statistic that 40% of women in CA are on anti-depressants. The Test to determine 'depression' seems to be very subjective and it's no wonder that so many folks 'qualify' for treatment. While of course there are many many genuine cases of clinical depression, I have to wonder whether drugs are the answer for so many marginal cases. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Elle DATE: 05/06/2007 01:44:56 PM I must confess that I have never come across a link between chronic perfectionism and suicide. But I do feel that it would make an interesting thesis for someone qualified to undertake. I am not that person.

I will be speaking to beyondblue ( this week to see if they can help shed some light on this topic.

As I have mentioned within the pages of this site, I am a reforming procrastinator, and the suggestions given - are exactly that. Suggestions. However I will qualify that - some of my suggestions work for me, and some times they don't. Just as I know that what works for one person will not work for another.

What I had hoped this website would do do is provoke discussion on what can be (and has for many people been) a debilitating condition.
Best regards
Elle ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Elle DATE: 05/07/2007 01:49:32 AM Prozac for pets....carrying on from previous comments made by readers concerning the over prescribing of drugs to treat depression. A piece in Saturday's West Australian (p56) has shed light on yet another major concern. Vets are now prescribing (have they always???) prozac for pets with separation anxiety. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Nicole Highet EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 05/14/2007 03:07:26 AM Dear Elle,

Thanks for your email questioning the possible link between perfectionism, paralysing fear and suicide. In short, yes there is a link, though obviously not the only one between these three conditions. Your reader does make a very valid point that perfectionism can result from anxiety (especially OCD, generalised anxiety), and when this is severe and prevents daily functioning it can result in isolation, low self esteem and greater risk of depression. Please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.
Kind regards,
Nicole ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: demotivated soul EMAIL: [email protected] IP: URL: DATE: 09/17/2007 02:43:22 PM Regarding: Prozac for pets,

5 years ago, my friend’s mother was depressed and the doctor prescribed antidepressants for her. One morning when she was taking her tablets, she decided that her cat didn’t look too “happy” so she started to share her tablets with the poor unfortunate cat.

This never came to light until my friend watched the cat make a jump for the kitchen side and misjudge the distance by a good 8 inches. Picking the cat off the floor he quizzed his mother why the cat couldn’t walk in a straight line!!

It took 3 months to wean the poor cat off the tablets.

True story

----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Donald EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 06/04/2009 12:54:40 PM This is another impressive post. I have read it quickly, but I am one that is known as a perfectionist. However, you would not know it by looking at my living conditions (which is not dirty, just very very cluttered). Also my office is a complete mess at my Church and home. I need to get busy. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: jenny EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 10/28/2010 11:19:15 PM I am not a perfectionist. I have anxiety and depression and just didnt feel i could do the mowing outside and just thought and would try and get someone to motivate me.

It has worked and i will get off my but and get outside. Many Thanks!!! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Elle DATE: 10/29/2010 03:56:18 AM Hi Jenny, glad it did help you ... all the best - Elle ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Kari EMAIL: IP: URL: DATE: 04/06/2011 11:14:08 PM I was having this precise conversation with my mom the other day! She has always claimed to be a "perfectionist". I have also described myself as having perfectionistic tendencies. More and more I'm convinced that the term "perfection" is a mask that many hide behind. I think the truth is that fear naturally occurs in life. The correct response to fear is not to overthink things, as "perfectionists" do. Sometimes you just have to DO, as Elle is saying. Just get on with it. The incorrect response to fear is to hide, bide your time in a "pine box", and do nothing. I'm saying this as someone who took five years to finish an associate's degree and has still not gotten a job in that field because of fear of failure. Someone who has gone through panic attacks and extreme anxiety along with life-changing medical diagnoses. While perfectionism is scary and can be debilitating, there comes a point where you have to accept that no amount of medications or therapy can force you to overcome your fears. You have to choose to change. =) Baby steps. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Elle DATE: 04/11/2011 12:08:14 PM Hi Kari, I am a great believer in baby steps. Anything in fact that moves us forward and I don't care by how much at any one time. As you mention, degrees do take time to complete. Mine took 5 years part time, granted I was also working full time and bringing up my daughter during my final year... then consider weight loss. Baby steps are so important - try and do too much at any one time and you will quickly fall off the dieting wagon (been there). Never be afraid of moving forwards slowly, be more afraid of staying still.
Elle ----- --------