Perfectionist and Procrastinator, Part 1

Anne is a writer. She hit upon a great idea for an article. It would require a lot of interviews, but the idea was brilliant. She posted a segment of the work on her blog and was contacted in four hours by a publisher. Anne could turn the idea into several spin-offs, so there was a great future ahead.


Changing time won’t change deadline

If you are a perfectionist, you know the next part of the story. Anne missed the first deadline. And the next. And the project is still not complete.

Anne is a perfectionist, too. She does excellent work and doesn’t want to turn in anything less than the best.

If Anne follows the road of perfectionism most writers and artists (and office workers, moms, employees, and supervisors) take, she will start a dozen projects and finish none of them, because they are not “finished.” Or “quite right,” or “done editing.”

She will have another great idea, and start it, and never finish it, either. Over her lifetime, she will start a thousand projects, ideas, articles, books, blogs, and relationships. None of them will end satisfactorily; many of them will never be finished at all.

Perfectionism sounds like something everyone would aspire to, but in real life, it is a pitfall to satisfaction. Perfectionism is the enemy of “good.” Or even “great.”

Don’t confuse “excellent” with “perfect.” Perfectionists are not satisfied with excellent, because there may be an  invisible flaw that someone will find. And expose the perfectionist as a fraud.

And being exposed as a fraud takes the identity from a perfectionist. And the images-1power they hold over others. As long as they don’t hand in the project or complete the work, they hang onto their identity.

Perfectionists are driven by fear of inadequacy–and sooner or later, often sooner, they will fail. Perfectionists fear this failure so much, that they begin to control their lives, their work, their employees, their family and friends in an ever-widening circle of perfectionism. By judging other people severely,  perfectionists point to the flaws of others as a distraction from faults growing in their own lives.

They are never happy, always striving, forever hearing the threat of “fraud,” “unworthy” and “failure.”

Continue reading Part 2 of  Perfectionist and Procrastinator on Sunday, Dec. 22. Discover a common cause of perfectionism and a new perspective. The Inner Critic takes the form of perfectionist to make sure you never are satisfied, and don’t get your creative work completed.

-Quinn McDonald is a recovering perfectionist who helps others open the door to being great, if not perfect. See her work at

10 thoughts on “Perfectionist and Procrastinator, Part 1

  1. Is it just me or do we, as a society, take joy in pointing out the flaws in other peoples’ work? Does this start at home and continue into school? What kind of monsters are we?

    Everything I ever worked on and handed in had something “wrong” with it. I think I internalized the message that nothing I ever did would be “good enough”. So now, even though I am driven to create, every time I start a story or a poem, I always get to a place where I get stuck on a word, a phrase or a scene and the project gets left to hang on the creative vine, blowing in the breeze of procrastination, withering.

    • No one does everything perfectly. When you get to that stuck place, it’s natural and normal. My oranges stop growing in summer because it’s too hot. They are the size of ping-pong balls, green and hard. And they stop growing. They start up again in September, and get ripe around now. So those story starts, they aren’t withering, they are waiting. Check in on them again. They may be ready to go agarin.

  2. “They hang on to their identity.”….not “onto their identity”. Does that make me a perfectionist? No…just a nut for correct word usage. lol Loved your article…Lynn

  3. Can you hear me groaning Quinn? To a much lesser extent, I still delay, delay, delay and the voices fight for domination with one saying “who do you think you are?” and “what are you bothering with that for?” or some such nonsense, and the other saying “you can do anything you want.” I tried to ignore the first one but until I started to actually listen closer I didn’t have a chance of resisting. Knowing where it came from, knowing what the purpose was I found resistance futile . . . I’ve started though, albeit late.

    Heroes are found in unlikely places.

  4. Have you been following me around today, listening to my conversations? Wow! Quinn, we are so connected. Looking forward to Part 2.

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