Perfectionists, research shows, can become easily discouraged by failing to meet impossibly high standards, making them reluctant to take on new challenges or even complete agreed-upon tasks.
Vulnerable to a loss of self-esteem and painful mood swings after any setback, such people apply themselves inconsistently and ultimately accomplish less because of their perfectionism.
Robert Abatecola, 42, spent five years researching Victorian plastering techniques before he got around to repairing the cracked walls in his San Jose, Calif., home because he wanted to be sure to preserve the 1896 Queen Anne–style house’s historical authenticity.
OCD much? I can relate, there are certain things I can’t let myself do because I am never sure enough!
Some people are persnickety about the neatness of their home…
The only reason I quoted this is the word “persnickety”. WTF?! Is that a word? I love it!
Highly perfectionistic students did fine when the pressure was low. But when told that their work would be evaluated and compared with that of other people, they rated the task as more important and felt worse about it than nonperfectionists did. What is more, the perfectionists’ writing turned out to be inferior in general—probably because perfectionists, fearing criticism, avoid opportunities to get editing feedback and consequently do not develop their skills, the authors speculated.
Procrastination can also stem from anxiety, an offshoot of neuroticism. Procrastinators postpone getting started because of a fear of failure (I am so worried that I will bungle this assignment), the fear of ultimately making a mistake (I need to make sure the outcome will be perfect), and the fear of success (If I do well, people will expect more of me all the time. Therefore, I’ll put the assignment off until the last minute, do it poorly, and people won’t expect so much of me).
Two key elements in the urge to let projects slide are an uneasy feeling about an activity and a desire to avoid that discomfort. “A procrastinator says, ‘I feel lousy about a task,’” Pychyl explains, “and thus walks away to feel better.”
…procrastinators who formed implementation intentions were nearly eight times as likely to follow through on a commitment than were those who did not create them. “You have to make a specific commitment to a time and place at which to act beforehand,” Owens says. “That will make you more likely to follow through.”