Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ponderings on Perfectionism & Procrastination

Some of my ongoing goals are to take better care of myself and my family; namely, to focus on implementing and improving my time, health, spiritual, and household management systems. This is a quite a process, I realize, and one I've actually been working on actively for the last couple of years.

Self-Discipline and Self-Control: agents of change.
One major discipline each of these areas boils down to that I've been working on is that much-dreaded discipline of self... otherwise known as self-discipline or self-control. Recently I've uncovered some bad mindsets I've had about the concept of self-discipline.

Yes, I've beat myself up in my mind for not having more of it, yet somehow I'm not sure if the 'beating' is doing me much good. One thing I discovered in berating myself for my lack of this highly-esteemed discipline is that my struggle was not so much with the lack of progress I was making in each of these areas, but more with my perfectionism. Initially, it doesn't seem to make sense that a perfectionist would struggle with self-discipline, but let me explain.

While perfectionism has always been a driving force in my life, it's not always driven me in a good way. In fact, a lot of times, when I know I can't do something "perfectly" I end up not making any attempts to do that thing at all... or, I'll put off doing it until I feel I can do it "the right way." Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm sure you've done something similar, especially if you are a woman. However, something I've noticed is that, more often than not, those opportunities to later do something "the right way" never seem to present themselves.

One other thing I've noticed about perfectionism is that it has a tendency to feed my struggle with procrastination as well. Many times, when we realize we cannot attain perfection, it is easier to sulk in our disappointment than to attempt to do anything great at all. Notice my train of thought here... my desire for perfection was wrapped completely around myself.

Perfectionism and Procrastination: partners in crime  out to rob you of productivity.

Perfectionism is focusing on ourselves and not on God. Self-discipline, otherwise known as the fruit of the Spirit called 'self-control,' is not something we can produce on our own. It can only evidence itself through our dependence on the Holy Spirit... by wrapping ourselves around God.

Here's the point I'm trying to make; please grab onto this:
 Self-Discipline and Self-Control: fruit of the Spirit, not the flesh

In fact, it can actually work against attempts at self-discipline. It stems from self-centeredness and self-sufficiency which are both far from godly attributes.

If that doesn't do it for you, let me define self-discipline and perfectionism.
the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
perfectionism |pərˈfek sh əˌnizəm|
refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
• Philosophy a doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, esp. the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.
Perfectionism and Procrastination can prohibit progress and productivity.

I'm coming to the point where I have decided that it doesn't matter if I can do what I want to do perfectly or not; I'd rather try and fail than to not make any progress at all. I'd rather please God with my progress and not try to please myself so much with my perfection. I don't know why I think I can actually attain perfection anyway... of course, no one is perfect... we've all missed the mark! (See Romans 3:23)

Rather than complaining and grumbling about my imperfections, I am trying to focus more on my attempts at progress instead. Grumbling to myself or having a bad attitude about my imperfections only impedes my attempts at progress. However, when I maintain a positive attitude of gratitude for the fact that I am at least trying to head in the right direction, appreciating each step of the way in my progress, I find more instant gratification and am propelled to keep on keepin' on.

Let me encourage you with your goals: don't give up... but don't rely on your own strength either. Brush off any negative attitudes and mindsets (like those of perfectionism and procrastination), and keep on trying. Choose each day to rely on the ever-sufficient grace, mercy, and love of Christ. Let Him have His way in you, that you might curb your fleshly desires and appetites. Each day is a new day with fresh opportunities and possibilities. If you didn't quite measure up yesterday, it's not too late. Try again today. Abide in Him; allow His Holy Spirit to accomplish the fruit in you that you cannot create for yourself.