DON’T TOUCH THE GIFTS!!!! I WILL DO IT WHEN I CAN SIT DOWN AND DO IT PERFECTLY!!!
By February (!) Jon had had enough. He was sick of walking through our front door to be greeted by a mountain. He was sick of side-stepping presents every time he headed to the kitchen. He took matters into his own hands and moved all the gifts from the dining room into the basement. He opened most of them in transit, disposing of wrapping paper and envelopes at random. He took out a few of the more useful kitchen gadgets and put them in cupboards and drawers. He performed this atrocity without my permission, I might add. And then he went about his day as if he had done nothing wrong.
I was devastated. And paralyzed. He was forcing me to deal with the mountain of wedding gifts, yet I had no idea how to tackle the project if I could not do it perfectly and completely, from start to finish. I honestly did not know how to do anything, if I could not do it perfectly.
This, my friends, was the absolute height of my perfectionism. And probably the most vivid description of how my little dysfunctional-perfectionist-brain worked at the time. Putting off projects indefinitely was the way I approached everything big (hundreds of wedding gifts) and small (a sink full of dishes). If I couldn’t do it perfectly from beginning to end, I couldn’t do it at all.
Most of you perfectionists already know this, but I’ll go ahead and say it out loud: Perfectionism leads to Procrastination.
I don’t know if it’s the most detrimental problem with perfectionism, but I do know it’s highly debilitating. As perfectionists, we fear starting projects we can’t finish or can’t do well. We have piles of this and mounds of that lying around our houses. We put off writing thank you notes and Christmas cards. We delay a phone call if we can’t sit down for a full hour and catch up. And we are acutely aware of each and every untouched pile, unwritten card and un-dialed phone call. So, along with our perfectionism and procrastination, we carry two accessory burdens: stress and guilt.
I still struggle with perfection in many areas of my life, but I am so thankful that I’ve really grown when it comes to procrastination. Though it still is quite unnatural to me, I’ve acquired some tools along the way to help me break the perfection/procrastination/stress/guilt cycle. Not the least of which was marrying a man who has nary a shred of perfectionism in his handsomely athletic body. He’s been a great balance to my dysfunction.
Come back next time, and I’ll share some strategies that work for me, including my most favoritest anti-procrastination tool ever.
What giant project have you avoided/are you avoiding because you can’t find the time to do it perfectly?