The Fine Line Between Perfectionism & Procrastination

Are you always waiting for the right time to start?

Do you sometimes think you might do a better job tomorrow? Or the day after?

Are you the type of person who never wants to make a mistake?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a perfectionist walking down the path of a procrastinator. Being a perfectionist is not necessarily a bad thing. But frequently, perfectionists tend to put off doing something if they are afraid they won’t be able to do it perfectly. Many perfectionists find playing for others completely outside their comfort zone.

Now, I’m preaching to myself here because, as I’ve mentioned before, I shy away from playing in public too often because I feel I haven’t practiced enough recently and won’t be able to play through a tune without making a mistake. I have an issue with this perfectionist complex, deep down in my bones.

So, if you’re like me, how do you take advantage of your perfectionist tendencies without becoming a habitual procrastinator?

  • Allow yourself to be human. Many times, we hold ourselves to overly high standards which prevents us from doing the things we're actually prepared to do. It’s okay to make mistakes. Learn to laugh at yourself and keep on keepin’ on.

  • Breakdown your to-do list, the tunes and techniques you want to learn. This makes it more manageable and easier to track. The sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing tasks off your list helps you build momentum to do more, and to feel confident in what you have already accomplished.

  • Track your time. Do you know where you spend most of your time? One helpful thing you can do is to set a time frame for any goal you want to achieve … learning to play that new tune, playing with a new tuning, mastering a new technique. Having a time frame gives you a clearer picture of what you should be doing when you have the time to practice.

  • Learn to say “NO!”. I so love this point. I have come to realize that the more “NO” I add to my vocabulary, the more time I have for productive practice time. Is this asking you to be selfish? Well maybe, but it is important to prioritize your time and not live according to other people’s whims.

  • Finally, celebrate your small achievements. The blog I wrote last week is centered on this. As I did then, I challenge you again to pay attention to your small victories and to not forget where you started from … while not losing sight of where you are headed. Small victories are still victories! 

Don't wait for perfection ... it can be a roadblock to action.  Don’t let your fear of making a mistake hold you back.  The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one. If you hide behind self-doubt and fear, no one will ever get to hear the sweet music your dulcimer can make. Think instead about the joy you can give others by sharing your music – whether it’s played perfectly or not.



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