WASHINGTON, February 11, 2017 – Are you the kind of person who tends to delay or endlessly put off launching new activities or projects? Once you’ve finally gotten around to starting something, do you ever manage to finish it or bring it to closure or conclusion?
If this sounds like you, consider this: You could be trapped in the vise-like grip of a debilitating syndrome known as perfectionism.
A little research in my own personal memory banks dredged up the thoughts of Plato on precisely this topic, and what better company can you have when it comes to a discussion on perfectionism?
Plato had thoughts not only about love (the Platonic variety), but also seems to have been the first philosopher we know to write at length about the notion of perfection (the Platonic ideal). In fact, he wrote quite a bit on the topic in his “Dialogues,” which are records of conversations he carried on with his phenomenally bright friends and associates, including a fellow named Socrates, whom you might have heard about. In a way, you could call Plato’s “Dialogues” the first examples of creative nonfiction.
Interestingly enough, they couldn’t have been perfect dialogues, because people still discuss them today—and even debate them.
One of Plato’s central points is that things in the material world, which changes constantly, are less “real” than they are in the ideal world of pure thought.
In other words, what you think about—or how you want things to be—is better than such thoughts, aims and desires actually are in real life.
Relating this to our original topic, consider this: If you have a project that’s not yet started or completed, your “ideas” about what it should look like or how it should be when it’s done will likely be considerably more “perfect” than what you actually end up with when the project is completed.
Essentially, you’re now among the damned—damned if you complete the project (it won’t be perfect) and damned if you don’t (it will never exist); at which point, we encounter perfectionism’s evil twin: procrastination.
Pondering such weighty matters is actually what got me around to writing this article about procrastination and perfectionism, which I regard as Dangerous and truly Evil Twins. Curious about these concepts and wondering if anyone else had written anything on it, it was time to search online.
Googling “procrastination,” “perfectionism,” and “dangerous twins” drew a blank. The only “dangerous twins” anyone mentions are hypocrisy and jealousy.
Pinching in on “dangerous twins” in more detail, it turns out something called “The Dangerous Twins” was actually a movie, dubbed on one site as “one of the best Nollywood (Nigerian Film Industry) films of 2004.”
Plot summary: twin brothers swap their lives to fix a family problem. Subsequently, the same film company released “Dangerous Twins 2” and “Dangerous Twins 3.” Should I watch all three of them before I begin this new article?
And what’s this about “Nollywood”? My ever-extending search-along provides interesting new information: Nigeria is the world’s third-largest producer of feature films. What have all of us been missing for the past ten years?
Should I watch “Dangerous Twins” 1, 2, and 3 to ensure my references are appropriate? Perhaps a mandatory rereading of Plato’s Dialogues to make sure I’m not missing any nuances?
Hmmmm. It suddenly dawns on me that I’m trying to write an article about procrastination and perfectionism, but going about it in a way that clearly demonstrates precisely how both of these work in tandem. Sound familiar?
Here’s the equation:
Perfectionism + Procrastination = Paralysis
Do you, too, find yourself perfect in your procrastination? If the answer is yes, plan to get nothing done.
Better yet, break out of the miasma and focus. And if you need professional help to break through, seek it out, or risk professional and personal failure.
Fran Ponick, MA, is certified in P-ESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language). Fran’s company, Leadership English®, offers full-service business communication skills, training, and coaching for executive and entrepreneurial non-native and native speakers of English as well as award-winning writing and editorial services for businesses large and small.