Ep. 61: Perfectionist Procrastination

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I’ve always loved learning. In high school, I would even leave my friends while we were partying to do homework as they shouted out “stoner nerd!” In college, I’d bring my books with me to the beach and spend most of the day reading with occasional dips in the ocean. I went on to go to graduate school (not just once!), including getting my doctorate. As a mom, I don’t dig playing with dolls with my kid, but I’ll spend a whole day exploring nature and taking field notes with her – easily. 


You could say I’m a bit of a nerd.


My obsession with learning was also accompanied by a desperate need to be perfect. To get all A’s. To be the best.


And while I enjoy learning (can you say FOUR graduate degrees?), it can be seriously exhausting to feel the need to be perfect about it at the same time. My nerdiness, along with a dollop of perfectionism, was actually the perfect recipe that kept me from learning and experiencing everything I had to do in my life to the fullest. 


I didn’t do anything unless I was virtually guaranteed not to fail, whether it was adventure sports, academics, careers, or which lover I pursued. 


And just some hard truth here – perfectionism is for people who are scared. And I was scared. Of failing. 


This contributes to classic perfectionist procrastination. When we think we have to hold back until something is perfect, we get an (often) unconscious bonus: If we “have” to wait for it to be perfect, to guarantee success, we never “have” to take action. 


And therefore, we don’t have to risk failing. 


But living like this is ultimately exhausting and unsustainable. And it keeps us from growth and learning which – for us nerdy rebels, at least – is a major part of what makes life fun and meaningful. 


So what are our options, rebels?


Well, if we don’t want to let go of perfectionism, in my opinion, then we need to change our definition of perfection. When we can see the imperfection as just part of the deal of being human – an inevitable part of the deal – then we can continue. We can keep moving towards our goals. 


It’s also important to remember that when we are creating in the world, what is important is that we are putting our gifts out there – not that it is perfect or that we were gloriously busy doing it. 


So, rebel, this week, what is that thing you’ve been putting off? 


Pick a timeframe to create a result. 


Then, be ok with it being perfectly imperfect. It ALL is anyway. 


If shit isn’t perfect (spoiler alert: it won’t be), ask, “What did I learn? What will I do differently next time?” 


Then move on to the next thing. 


In this episode, you’ll learn: 

// Accepting our perfectly imperfect nature 

// Shifting from temporary external motivation, (instant results/praise from others) to internal motivation and inspiration (kind of like what my mom was saying about the $20 for an A) 

// Seeing failure as a chance to learn – and not a signal to give up (like J.K. Rowling and my friend who couldn’t get into medical school…the first four times) 

// Realizing that imperfection and failure are part of the deal of being human 

// Waking up to the fact that nobody cares how hard you worked or how long or how much you stressed over it…they just care that what you’ve done is out there!

// Tips for being productive while being ok with the B work 



// Check out my blogpost on How to Get Shit Done 

// If you’re new to the squad, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll get access to the private Facebook group and my free weekly live class called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.

// If you’re interested in finding out more about how to free your mind and free your life, join Freedom School. Enrollment is open, and we are diving DEEP into ways to cultivate clarity and courage so you can create your best life. There are also some sweet bonus courses for you there. It will set you up to live the best version of you in the year to come. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com