Getting Unstuck

“I’m Julie Kay and I’m a recovering perfectionist,” I also know from my work as a coach that I am not alone in that. I work with many committed, hard-working people who are driven by providing the best service or the best product possible for their clients, colleagues or customers. At the same time, a large number fail to meet their own and their customers’ expectations because they miss deadlines, run out of time and deliver something of poor quality or don’t deliver at all because they don’t get past the planning stage and therefore deny their customers access to themselves and the outcomes they can potentially deliver.

The poet Rabindranth Tagore describes this beautifully:

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.”

Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists hold themselves back, telling themselves they need more time, more skills, more information, or more certainty, before they can produce high quality results.

Not all procrastination is down to being a perfectionist though. Sometimes it is related to feeling overwhelmed, getting caught up in the detail, being fearful or just plain bored. For example, when I find myself doing the housework it’s a strong signal that I am avoiding something even more unappealing!

Whatever the reason, these suggestions may be helpful in getting you un-stuck and into action.

  • Remember that a perfect product that never materialises is doing your customers a dis-service. Find the balance between quality and timeliness.
  • Accept there will never be certainty. Adopt the attitude of building the plane while you are flying it. If you take action, get feedback and then make tweaks as you go along you will reach your destination
  • When you are procrastinating, re-connect with why you are doing it. As the saying goes, “when the why is big enough the how will take care of itself.”
  • When you are feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the project, break it down into the smallest possible steps that you can take easily every day.
  • Celebrate your successes and make sure you acknowledge actions taken as well as outcomes.
  • Build in accountability. Find ways to hold yourself accountable, find an accountability partner or a whole learning community that will check in with you, challenge you and be interested in your progress and results.

I would love to hear what you do to stop procrastinating and start producing the goods.

9 Responses to Getting Unstuck

  • Hi Julie. This is Julie LOL. Great post about the correlation between procrastination and perfectionism. I have written some posts about the very same topic pointing out that for the small business owner, one of the worst side effects is “doing nothing”. Fear of making a mistake also oftentimes causes a business owner to procrastinate and if one does “nothing” they gain “nothing”. It is far better to do “something” – even if it ends up being the wrong decision. Learn from that mistake and move on – at least then you are doing “something”.

    Thanks for sharing your insights 🙂

  • Julie,

    This is bang-on. And a symptom of many start ups. The most important thing is to get something out there, even if its not quite the finished piece. It will give you a reason to speak with prospects and you will get early feedback to help you perfect the offering.

    Happy Christmas by the way!


    • Thanks Matthew. Yes, you cant change the course of anything that isn’t moving. As you say, better to get some momentum and tweak as you go along based on the feedback you get.

  • Julie – Your article hits close to home for a lot of people who struggle with procrastination vs. perfectionism. Both are opportunities killers and the fear of failure (whether real or imaginary) can immobilize people for achieving their potential.

    But there are situations where you really are stuck. To me it feels like I’m groping for answers, searching for a new strategy that is fuzzy, under-developed where having an experience, trusted and knowledgeable mentor who can throw you a life line is the most direct route to getting “un-stuck”. There are times when these people are not around.

    Can you speak to how you’ve overcame this?

  • This was a very good article well written.Lots of good advice for everyone.I think we
    all get stuck at some point in our lives.I tweeted this thanks for being a follower of mine so i can keep reading your post.Happy holidays Julie.

  • Julie, I was a serial procrastinator of the worst kind. Thankfully those days are behind me now. I got myself un stuck, and get my clients un stuck by analyzing and acknowledging the subconscious thoughts that kept me feeling stuck in a rut.

    • Thanks for your response Sean. Yes it’s good to know there are a number of effective ways to get un-stuck and get going depending on the reasons behind the “stuckness,”

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