The truth is, I’m not in the mood to write this morning. Not only is the sun out, but I have just come through a rather stressful couple of days, battling giants.
I mean real giants; Bank of America, Sprint, Comcast, you name ‘em. But what I see this morning is that I am creating a giant out of my own preference to do anything but buckle down and get this written before my end of month deadline.
I extend thanks, therefore, to my friend F. Highbottom, for the link to an article by Bill Kraus about the perfectionism-procrastination cycle and how to break it.
Kraus defines 7 steps in the cycle:
- I have high standards
- I have no guarantee I will measure up.
- I believe less than the best will not do.
- Now I am getting uncomfortable.
- I ignore that.
- By doing something else that I know will succeed.
- Until I realize that I am stuck.
So far I have emptied my in-box again, paid several bills and had a cup of iced tea. What I am supposed to realize is that demanding perfection has become a load on my system, which not only causes the wear and tear of stress, but perpetuates the cycle of frustration.
I just realized this minute that I am trying to paraphrase a complicated part of this article perfectly, and I keep wanting to go outside for a walk. My own “contingent worth trap” says that I must do this or not be a fluent and effective writer.
Kraus suggests that instead I might remember that I have many skills, and expecting perfection from all of them is unrealistic. Taking a more pluralistic view can help me set more reasonable goals. Rather than torture myself I am going to simply cut and paste part of his article right here:
“Let’s look at Judy’s procrastination-perfectionism situation and a cognitive incongruity intervention she used to change her contingent-worth outlook.
Judy attended a procrastination workshop that I led. She spoke up and said her problem was procrastinating on moving to a larger apartment. An obvious question was why did she want to move?
She told the workshop group that she needed a larger apartment because she was running out of space. Why? Her answer was surprising. Her apartment was filled with yellowing New York Times newspapers and magazines. She needed more space. How did she explain the collection?
Judy wanted to date a highly intelligent man. She expected to find him at a sophisticated Manhattan cocktail party. Here is the rub. She convinced herself that if an intelligent man spoke to her about a New York Times editorial, she’d look like a fool if she hadn’t read it.
So she daily purchased the Times and stacked each new one on top of the others. Reading and understanding the editorials was her precondition to appear smart, which was her precondition for dating an intelligent Manhattan man.
Anxious over the thought that she couldn’t develop a perfect understanding of the editorials, she put off reading them until she could research the topics. Her preconditions were self-protective and diversionary and self-defeating.
Judy’s precondition for success, in finding a mate, was a red herring. But first things first. Before tackling her procrastination, we needed to rule out a hoarding compulsion. Several group members helped her start ditching her New York Times collection. Judy reported feeling better with less paper.”
Wow, that wasn’t so hard after all! I hope you can all forgive me for taking the easy way out this month.
Now that I am finished, I hope everyone is able to stop thinking they have to be perfect and can get rid of those newspapers, or whatever is holding things up!
She’s on fire, now!