September can feel like the start of a new calendar year. We have returned from holidays, kids are starting school, on the horizon new projects or maybe that new job. It is a time where we instinctively look back over the year so far in an attempt to gain a clearer perspective on what we have achieved, on how we are on track (or not) on our goals. With 3 months to go to the end of the year we might start panicking and looking for answers everywhere spurred on by the sense that the precious year is slipping away from us as the seasons change.
You might find yourself stuck and not knowing where to start. In some cases you might be paralysed by perfectionism and despite your best intentions you’re doing nothing. Doing nothing and feeling ashamed or guilty considering yourself lazy while preaching your ambitions.
That is a trap! The trap of perfectionism, the mother of procrastination.
It makes us so worried about getting things wrong that then we do not get them done. If you are a perfectionist artist, like I am, I do not have good news for you. Your job will end up being criticised no matter what you do or not do.
Rilke said in his “Letter to a young poet”: “Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself.“ Rilke invites the young aspiring poet Kappus to find out deep inside himself if “whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write”.
We can truly start working when the fear of not doing anything finally exceeds the fear of doing it badly. When our fear of doing it wrong or being criticised supersedes the fear of doing it we won’t even start and find million of excuses.
The paradox is that this procrastination won’t prevent us to feel miserable. This misery is far more heartbreaking than being criticised. It is the misery of not fulfilling our potential and not making what we are called to make.
With a book coming out soon I find myself thinking over and over again how it will be received. Just few days ago, I got caught by the anxiety and wanted to re-edit everything. I doubted myself. A sneaky way of the perfectionist self-sabotaging mechanism.
We all want to be seen and when we choose to express ourselves by making art we expose ourselves with high vulnerability. This is in part the result of our metric of success based only on economic outcomes. If for a moment we stop thinking about how many copies or how many workshops we will sell, can we free ourselves from inaction and procrastination? If we add into our metrics of success the inspiration we can provide can we free ourselves from the fear of failing and start creating something?
Think about it next time you tell yourself that what you make, your art, isn’t good enough or, next time you get a panic attack because your art isn’t perfect enough and hence it shouldn’t be released to the public.
To loosen the paralysing grip of perfectionism – and liberate your creative energy start using these tools:
- self-reflection: is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence (Wikipedia). The answers are already within you, do not seek them outside unless you want to live by somebody else’s standards. Having a place to record your thoughts can help you make a ritual of reflection, it can help you keep a closer focus on your most important priorities and get passed the paralysis of perfectionism.
- Take actions: let your self-reflection guide you to take inspired actions. Those actions belong to you. They are not what somebody else did to become successful or achieve a goal. Do not believe in the lies of the 5 steps to success. Believe in yourself and your own path.
- Do not hang out with outcomes. Do not let outcomes drive you away from what you know being your path. Be instead bold, learn from the unexpected outcomes and do incremental 1% improvements.
Overcoming procrastination is a practice that requests all your commitment to get rid-off perfectionism and embrace a bit more progress.
Learn to bring more FREEDOM, LOVE and r-EVOLUTION in your life becoming more PRESENT & WHOLENESS. Self-reflection when practiced regularly it busts resilience and improves your wellbeing. Click here to receive guidance on how to build the self-reflection practice in your life through journaling.
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