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Fear and perfectionism

Procrastination – Overcoming Fear and Perfectionism

Procrastination can be a frustrating habit that prevents us from accomplishing our goals and reaching our full potential, particularly when fear and perfectionism get in the way.

Regardless of the reasons we delay or avoid important tasks, overcoming procrastination is critical to achieving success and living a fulfilling life.

This is Part 4 of our series intended to help you move toward productive living and away from procrastination that causes unproductive stagnation.

If you’ve missed the earlier parts of this series, here are the direct links. Each are a short read and one builds upon the next, so it’s valuable to give them a read.

Fear of Failure

Fear is a common cause of procrastination. The fear of failure can prevent us from even getting started. While fear is seen as a negative thing, it can be a healthy response warning that keeps you safe from harm. Fear becomes an impediment when it delays or stops your ability to take productive action.

To overcome fear-based procrastination, take a honest look within to identify the underlying fear you are experiencing. This could be fear of failure, success, rejection, or some other thing from the past that triggers the fear response. Once the cause (or causes) are identified, you’ll be in a better place to properly address it.

This can be challenging to self-scan to find the cause. It is possible and it sometimes lacks clarity. Pay attention to what you feel, where you feel it, the thoughts, and beliefs or events that trigger the feeling.

As a Board Certified Hypnotherapist and Coach, I do this work all the time with people that feel stuck. Through my Transformative Life Centering process, we can follow the feeling back in time to where it originated. This is much faster and can create subconscious change of misperceived thoughts or beliefs you’ve carried around for too long.


While addressed in an earlier part of this series, We discuss it here as well to reiterate the importance of not chasing unrealistic expectations. Perfectionism is also another major contributor to procrastination. When we set impossibly high standards for ourselves, we may avoid taking action altogether out of fear of falling short of our expectations. Perfectionism can lead to a fear of making mistakes and a belief that anything less than perfection is a failure.

To overcome perfectionism-based procrastination, start by setting more realistic goals and accept that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. We should recognize that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning rather than viewing them as failures. Also, be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you’re doing your best and no one is perfect.

Another way to overcome procrastination based on fear and perfectionism is to break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. When you place your focus on bits of a task at a time, that allows you to produce quality work on each segment. With each step through the project, you can look back with pride of doing well, and internally create a positive mindset moving forward.

In an earlier part of this series, I suggested avoiding a multitask approach. That’s good when you can. In many environments, people have more tasks than time, and then there are the unexpected phone calls, emails and drive-by visitors.

Prioritize Tasks and Protect Your Time

Here are some things you can do to eliminate distractions:

  • Turn off the ringer and set a voice recording stating you take calls between 10:00 am to 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, or a time that works for you.
  • Turn off email and check it between stages of your project.
  • If you have a door, close it and place a Do Not Disturb sign.
    Place a sign by your desk.
  • If you’re in a cube environment, consider wearing brightly colored safety ear muffs that show you are engaged in an important project. People won’t see earplugs, but the brightly colored ear muffs send a clear message to your supervisor and others that you take your work seriously.

I did this for years and it works well. If someone still interrupts you, it shows you who respects your time and who doesn’t. The point here is that many things can pull at you, internally and externally when working on a task. Be sure to establish a schedule, prioritize tasks and protect your time.

Last Thoughts

Bear in mind that overcoming procrastination is not a one-time fix. Life is dynamic and we should be prepared to adjust when needed. Life and the things we do is a continuous process that requires dedication and effort.

Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that we can slip back into old habits… but you don’t have to. Recognize that sometimes we’re just not running at full power. Make sure you stay well and take care of the important things.

Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Know that within you, you have the ability to do well because you control the quality of your own work.

Overcoming fear and perfectionism is key to overcoming procrastination. It takes courage, persistence, planning and patience.  With time and practice, you can break free from the old cycle of procrastination and achieve success.

About the Author

Anthony M. Davis is a Certified Leadership, Success and Stress Coach. He earned a Board Hypnotherapist Certification and is clinically trained.

He has earned a reputation for his Transformative Life Centering work with abuse clients from across the nation.

Since COVID, he provides coaching and Hypnotherapy sessions remotely through Zoom. Contact him HERE to create the life change you desire.

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