Do you keep putting off starting something because you aren’t ready? Do you feel you must have all your ducks in a row before you take that first step? Perhaps preparing to start something helps you feel more in control?
I’m with you. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I have a lot of Virgo in me; it feels good to prepare and get organized before starting something new. But sometimes, that preparation or gets in the way of beginning. Or perhaps your inner critic or Imposter Syndrome are getting in your way?
You don’t know if you can do something or if you will be a success unless you jump in and do it, however scary that seems. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Let go of being perfect to stop procrastinating
Letting go of it being perfect is a lot of work for me, but when I do this work, although it feels uncomfortable at first, it gets me motivated and moving towards whatever I want to get done.
I see this a lot in my clients, too; it’s human nature, after all. Sally wants to start exercising and takes her first step by signing up for the gym, but she wants to lose a little more weight before going.
Amy has plans to change her career; she has been taking classes for a year now and, in reality, is more than ready but feels she needs a little more expertise, just one more class, and then she will take her next step.
Isobel wanted to pick up her paints again after years of them gathering dust in the cupboard, but she couldn’t decide what to paint; her first painting after so long had to be perfect. She couldn’t make that first stroke on the canvas before she had a clear idea of what it should be, so instead, she chose to buy just a few more paints to add to her dusty collection.
When you are overpreparing, it feels like you are moving towards your goal, but actually, you are holding yourself back with your procrastination.
Of course, there is a place for preparation; Sally needed to sign up at the gym. Amy could not have just jumped right into a new career without any training. Isobel needs to buy some material before she starts, but you must ask yourself when it is enough? When does the preparing tip the balance away from being necessary and enhancing your chances of success, and when does it become an excuse not to start at all? When does it become procrastination?
5 steps to stop procrastination
So how do you answer those questions when you are stuck in preparation and not taking action? Here are five steps to help you stop procrastinating and move forward towards reaching your goals.
- Become aware. The first step is to do just that, be aware. When you are tempted to put off starting because you want to sign up for just one more thing or need to buy something else, and then you will be ready, ask yourself if you need it.
- Consider the why. When you ask yourself if you really need it and the answer is no, think about why you are tempted to put off moving forward. Is it because you are fearful of starting a new activity, perhaps you have tried something like it before and have not been successful? Imagine you are starting a new thing; what does that feel like in your body? Do you get that squiggly feeling in your stomach that you can’t quite identify as excitement or anxiety, is that feeling too uncomfortable for you?
- Choose to step forward. Decide that you are going to take the leap anyway. As a visual person, when I am stuck and needing to push myself forward, I imagine I am standing on the edge of a swimming pool and I know that water is going to be cold, but I have to muster all my strength and determination and fearlessly jump in with both feet.
- Remember the rewards are waiting for you. Know that when you have taken the leap, the other side is not as scary as you thought it was going to be. Even if your venture could use some improvement that will happen as you continue your forward momentum. For me the water is not as cold in that pool as I expected, and after a short time I am swimming around comfortably. Remember that things don’t have to be perfect right away.
- Celebrate! Celebrate your bravery in taking the leap, each time you do this it will become easier and easier, and you will realize how amazing you are and what amazing skills and talents you have.
So don’t get stuck in the cycle of preparing too much. Stop procrastinating. Just take the leap with both feet and see how it goes, chances are you are more than ready!