Fighting Perfect Paralysis

pile of covered books

This blog is written by a good friend of Grace’s who has a heart of gold and has continually been a person to lift her up whenever she needs it. She loves the Lord and is a light for all…

Hear what she has to say…

From the desk of Grace Klassen,

As a journalist, I look at the world around me as a potential story. Everything could become my next story. Once a chose a topic to write about, it takes me ages to actually sit down and write about it….

I get paralyzed by the potential and paralyzed by the perfection I am striving for. In a world of deadlines and ever-changing headlines I have realized that this paralysis needs to go. 

woman sitting in front of the laptop computer in shallow photo
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

Most of my procrastination comes from my desire for perfection. I value my work, I see the great potential of my work, and I want it to be done well. These values may sound like good motivators but after a while, they have become a cause of anxiety. Research has shown that perfectionism and anxiety have a strong correlation. The fruit of this relationship is procrastination. 

Perfectionism is a personal and fixed expectation. It does not take contextual factors into account, and it varies from person to person.

It is almost impossible to satiate this standard. This creates burnout, lowered self-esteem levels, and unhappy people. It is a hard expectation to drop and many people find themselves stuck – just like me.

They have Perfect Paralysis.

After looking at my writing process, and my general approach to work I have found some helpful ways to fight back against my Perfect Paralysis. 

  1. Move!

The first step might make the most sense. When fighting paralysis, try and move.

Put words on the paper. Even if they aren’t going to make the final draft, stop staring at the blank piece of paper.

Move, write, act!

photo of person writing on notebook
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

I start every piece by writing my name at the top. It’s not groundbreaking composition but seeing two words on the paper gives me just enough momentum to stop my anxiety from overwhelming me. 

Take a look at the work you have been procrastinating.

What is the first thing you can do to get started?

Do you need to create a new spreadsheet, open a new tab, or just open your laptop? Take the first, very small step. Move before the paralysis sets it.

  1. Bite Sized Pieces

So you have started your work, you have taken a tiny bite out of your project. What other small things can you do that will help get your work done?

Once you have started, don’t let little things stop you. If the task will take you two minutes or less, do it right away. That means sending that email you’ve been avoiding, citing your sources, or making that quick phone call.

For me it usually looks like writing the introduction paragraph of an article.

Bite down on the task and work for two minutes, give it your all. After those two minutes take a deep breath and tackle the next two minutes. If you are working in small chunks, you can trick your brain into finishing an entire project.

  1. Be Messy

Thoughts about perfection will start to creep in. “Oh that email response isn’t good enough or, delete the entire project”.

When you start hearing this little voice you can fight back.

Your bite sized work can be messy. In these moments I like to remind myself that this is only two minutes’ worth of work, it is easily fixable. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

When writing a piece, I save my editing for the end. I let myself get the words on the paper before I start deleting them. If a perfectionist deletes as they go, they might never get past the first sentence.

Give yourself permission to be messy. Give yourself permission to make edits. Do not let your editing process hinder your progress. 

white open book and blue ceramic mug
Photo by Viktoria Alipatova on Pexels.com

Perfectionism is not easy. It can feel overwhelming, and cause a lot of anxiety. Those feelings often leave us feeling paralyzed, unable to get to work and achieve our goals. By starting small, creating bite sized pieces of work, and giving ourselves permission to be messy we can fight back against perfect paralysis. 

This fight is not won overnight. I would love to hear how you fight back against paralysis and perfectionism. Connect with me: www.linkedin.com/in/graceklassen

I also know that we can work through perfectionism by talking with others who have battled against it too…

What better way than joining a peer group and learning from a group of other high achieving women?!

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