“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” -Winston Churchill
One of the other things that many procrastinators have in common is the fantasy of perfection, and perfectionist tendencies. Many procrastinators believe that if they cannot do something perfectly, then there’s no point in doing it at all. And that if they cannot do something right the very first time they try, then there’s no point in sticking with it, improving, and honing a new skill. This mindset is actually rooted in deep-seated trauma. Somewhere in this person’s childhood, they made a mistake, and rather than receive comfort and/or encouragement to try again, they received criticism, hostility, and perhaps even physical punishment. For many people, this was a constant occurrence any time they made a mistake, big or small. As a result, they grew up with an intense fear of criticism, and simultaneously became their own biggest critic, and are so afraid of making a mistake and being judged, that they often do nothing at all.
I was this person, for the bulk of my life. I was so afraid of doing, saying, or being the wrong thing. I felt as if all eyes were on me, as if I were on a stage, and everyone was waiting to see me fail. Fear of making mistakes, more than just a fear of criticism, is also rooted in the distorted belief that other people are more concerned with what you’re doing than they are with their own lives. Spoiler alert: They’re not. Yeah, you might have some secret haters here and there, and you probably have even more secret supporters than that, but for the most part, other people are not thinking about you. Stop for a minute to consider how little you concern yourself with people who do not reside with you. Now image the amount of ego that it takes to believe that other people, rather than think of themselves, are somehow preoccupied with you. Once you understand that most people simply don’t care one way or the other what you do if it doesn’t involve them, you free yourself to learn, grow, and yes, make mistakes in peace.