AKA: overcoming paralysis by analysis
Lately, I had been feeling overwhelmed with starting some new projects, both personal and professional. So overwhelmed that I found I hadn’t started anything, much less made any progress or finished, even though I could have easily been close to finished by now if I could have just gotten started.
Reflecting on this behaviour, I tried to understand why I was doing, or not doing in this case, what I wanted to do. Through this reflection, I realised that for some reason I wanted to do things perfectly the first time. Scared that I couldn’t produce perfection straight out of the gate, I was not doing anything at all. Except for procrastinating tactics – those I did, completed, and even perfected!
So what to do about it?
Well, I came up with a mantra to help me overcome this incredibly ridiculous, but real nonetheless fear:
Everything’s a draft until it’s not
With this mantra I allowed myself to make mistakes. I knew I would make mistakes. I even welcomed making mistakes because what I was working on was only a draft. So I could use my mistakes as learning experiences. This shift in attitude could continue as long as it took until I felt my draft was good enough to be my final.
Lo and behold, I actually had quite a few wins right away. I freed myself up to make a mistake and then I didn’t. It’s like the story of the workmen who built the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Several men fell off the bridge to their deaths until someone put up some safety nets. After which no one fell. Once I had my safety net/ mantra, I didn’t need it!
Everybody at every level at some time goes through this kind of perceived pressure to do or be ‘perfect’. Sometimes you can naturally overcome it and sometimes it paralysis you.
What do you do to overcome this type of procrastination and start doing the things you want to do?