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How to refuse perfectionism and stop procrastinating: the shock therapy

I had to experience a global health crisis to find the courage to hit the “publish” button


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Margherita Amici

3 years ago | 4 min read

I had to experience a global health crisis to find the courage to hit the “publish” button

I was planning to publish on Medium for months now. I read hundreds of articles on there since 2017, finding a lot of inspiration for my job and my personal life. It’s a great platform, and I was impressed by all the exciting contents published on it.

I soon started a daily routine based on hitting my mornings with some easy posts, then something more topical in my lunch break and I voted most of my evenings to technical articles related to my job.

At a certain point, the idea of starting my publications came to me. It was something more like a tickle, at the beginning. I’ve found myself wondering about it many times, but I’ve never trusted myself enough. We, insecure people, can get the feeling.

Fortunately, I have a few close friends who believe I can achieve more than I dare to dream. They encouraged me to express my opinion on some topics.

They urged me to stop just talking about them and start writing. Now that I’m analyzing the events, it’s possible that my friends were tired of my articulated monologues. Just kidding. They are really supportive, and I have to thank them for being such enthusiastic about my ideas.

Stuck in a vicious circle

So, I started writing. I followed a rigorous method since I wanted to create strong contents, use a proper language and find the right authoritative references that could support my opinion, from a scientific and technical point of view. I religiously followed all the rules for the perfect article.

But striving for perfection trapped me in a vicious cycle.

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

I tried to achieve the perfect writing routine, the perfect editing plan, the perfect moment to hit the publish button. I was consuming all my energy in these unproductive efforts that I arrived at a point I had several articles ready for being published (including pictures, meticulously picked after hours of strenuous research).

Still, I was afraid to find out that maybe my work wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was necessary for my public debut. Yep, I love drama. But, seriously, I was frozen in fear.

The root-analysis aka my mind has always tricked me

I slowly became aware that my perfectionism could be a problem if I wanted to do something significant in my life. So, I started analyzing it, to understand if it was a struggle related only to writing for an audience, or if it was something deep-rooted. No surprise: it was the latter.

Photo by Danielle Barnes on Unsplash

All my life, I’ve been too afraid to try new things only because I thought I needed an intense preparation to measure up. And this happened in every activity I engaged since I was a child.

I’ve spent months practicing the perfect back-hand technique, but more I worked out on it, less I felt ready to play a real tennis match. Guess what? I’ve never joined a real tennis competition, no matter what my instructor told me. I’ve been sabotaged me with my bare hands.

On the brink of thirty years, I learnt that planning for everything to be on point before taking action is not the way to achieve a result. But, you know what’s funny? Once I realized it, I started to plan the perfect method to get rid of my perfectionism. I know that it doesn’t make sense, but that’s it: I was trapped in a mental habit harder to eradicate than I could imagine.

The shock therapy: something far away from the ultimate solution

But something was intended to happen, sooner or later. It came out to be the global health crisis due to Coronavirus plague. It took a world event of such extent to make me realize that all the energies employed to try to achieve perfection was utterly vain.

This global event was so unpredictable that suddenly the fear of depriving myself of my dreams became more powerful than the fear of not being perfect.

When the world as you know it is falling apart and you don’t know what to expect when everything will be over, then taking action becomes urgent.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

You realize how many missed opportunities you’ve left behind and how much time you’ve wasted on meaningless thoughts, like perfectionism. This was my shock therapy.

I’m sure that once it will be over, the perfectionism will pop up again, in other subtle forms. It is not something you can get rid off from one day to another. There is no magic wand that frees us from the pitfalls of our mind: it’s a bumpy ride.

But I have a message for all the over-thinkers out there: if you understand that the real prison is your mind, eventually you will find the key to unlock it.

Originally published on medium.

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