Because some of our advice has been misleading.
Here is a case in point:
The expertstell us "
Don't wait till everything is perfectly planned, or you'll never get started
." Withinthe same paragraph, we will find this is mistakenly called perfectionism. This ismisleading for three reasons.
First reason is
; the one above is not the definition of a perfectionist. That is the definitionof one who plans ahead too much. Sure, I agree that some people spend so much timeplanning that they never get started, but that is not necessarily a sign of procrastination dueto perfectionism.The person could be feeling some fear of failure or fear of success and that would be thereason for procrastination. It is the cause that should be treated. The over planning is thesymptom; the person is over planning to avoid the failure or to avoid feeling guilty aboutdelaying another day. Treating the symptom is the worse suggestion that can be given andthat is what the above advice is telling us to do.
The second reason is
; over planners will know they are not perfectionists because theywill know themselves usually better than the expert does. Over planners have no ideawhen it is too much!Dear expert, your knowledge is precious, but a mistake like that will have the person whomostly needs to follow that advice to lose credibility in you; you won't be able to helppeople with mistakes like these.If perfectionists are to be helped, they must first be made aware of what the term meansbecause no real perfectionist considers him or herself a perfectionist. This leads us to
why the above advice is misleading. It is because it leaves out the trueperfectionist who is actually procrastinating because of his or her perfectionism.
Here is another example.
We recommend people to find someone to whom they can beaccountable, as a solution for procrastination. Some people expect to be self accountablebefore they have learnt to be accountable to others. This is unrealistic, but not necessarilya sign of perfectionism. It could be that the person values independence, is a loner or anintrovert but not necessarily a perfectionist.To some extent we all have some perfectionist traits. Some have less and some havemore. You could be a non-perfectionist in some area of life, say your relationships buthave the procrastination pattern of the perfectionist in another area. One in every ninepersons is estimated to be a perfectionist, or at least that is my non scientific but educatedguess.I have yet to see anyone talking about procrastination who actually knows whatperfectionism is (most of them are business people non psychologists). So let's get thatcleared up.
The perfectionist is a person who is always insisting that things should be the bestthey can possibly be.