A good headline makes all the difference in a blog post. And this one got me: “How to Stop Procrastination.” *CLICK!*
I don’t know what I expected from the eloquent Ann Voskamp, but it sure wasn’t the slap in the face that I got.
So I know you’re curious. How DO you stop procrastination?
Here’s the answer: Stop trying to be perfect. Perfectionism leads to procrastination.
What a light-bulb moment for me.
If we only start something when we know we could do it perfectly, we wouldn’t be able to speak, walk, play a sport … nothing.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited to start writing until I have the perfect article crafted in my head or put off working out because I didn’t have the right routine laid out. I’ve put off healthy eating more times than I can count because I only had enough on-plan food for one day.
Why wait? Even starting imperfectly is a start.
I gave a series of talks last weekend at a women’s retreat. One of the group activities was painting. We all got a canvas and a sample painting to try to replicate. This is not my thing. I am not an artist. So I stared at the canvas, not sure if the color I chose was the right one. Not sure if I could make mine look just like the sample. Not sure where to paint the first line. So as the ladies around me laughed and brushed, I just stood in front of the blank whiteness and held my brush.
I was frozen by my perfectionism. Frozen. What beautiful art (or mediocre art that is at least an attempt!) have you been putting off creating out of fear that it won’t be perfect?
So now here I am saying, OK, I need to work on this perfectionism thing. God, help me out. And he did, in a quiet moment on a bridge with a friend.
On the final morning of the retreat I slept in and missed the golf cart that would’ve been super helpful in getting my bags to the car. So I had to make two trips. On the way back, I walked from the parking lot, over the bridge to our cottage with an old friend. In conversation I mentioned my recent revelation about perfectionism.
She is one of those people who seems to choose her words carefully and prayerfully, so I listened closely while she spoke. She looked at me and said, “Abby, I don’t want the people I love to be perfect. I love their imperfections.”
I have thought a lot about this and realized I feel the same way. I want my family to be flawed, cracked and beautiful. I want my friends to mess up so we can have a good laugh, and I’m thinking they feel the same way about me. Working in Christian radio we hear a lot that what listeners are looking for is authenticity. The days of the jocks presenting a perfect life and telling others this is how they should live … those are in the past. Or at least they should be.
I am not perfect. My work is not perfect. Every article I write and every on-air bit I do – not perfect. But the one who created me, He is perfect and he loves me perfectly. Nothing I do can change my value. Or as Ann Voskamp put it, “[He] accepts you 100% before you perform even 1%.”
What freedom! Whatever canvas you are waiting to paint, book you’re waiting to write, or leap you’re waiting to take: Say a prayer and go.
Copyright 2019 Abby Watts
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