Perfectionism or Procrastination

Perfectionism and follow through.

I have been plagued with these two curses. I don’t know if I can’t follow through because I’m a perfectionist and rarely happy with what I do, or if I can’t get things to the level I’m happy with because I can’t follow through to the next step.

I have interval exercise books and flute extended technique books completed, but not sent to publishers. I have recordings that I haven’t listened to, recordings that are lost because I’ve never gotten them from the engineer, recordings that I think the engineer still has that I haven’t completed.

I love the concept of “initial resistence.” I often forget it, but when I do remember, I sit myself down and set a timer for 10 minutes. (5 minutes if I REALLY don’t want to do it.) Before I know it, if I stay out of the way, the task seems to complete itself. When the timer goes off, I can set it again, or be happy that I did something and move on to the next thing.

And the next thing is often something that I WANT to do. “Should,” “have to” and “need to” are trigger words for me. I refuse to be triggered, as that is a reaction. I want to respond to life, not react to energies outside of myself. So, every time I hear my inner boss say “Ellen, you should….” or “Ellen, you know that if you want___, you should….” or even, “Ellen, you know you’ll be happier when you …..” (which is a sneaky way to say should!) I just don’t do it. I ask myself what do I WANT to do and do that instead. Believe it or not, 7 out of 10 times I get to the “should” task after a while.

Now, for some people 7 out of 10 is 70% or a “C” behavior, and they wouldn’t be happy. Good for them! For me, getting done 70% of what I initially didn’t want to do, while I accomplished 100% of what I wanted to do is a win. I guess I’m not really a perfectionist after all!

I finally listened to a recording of a concert I played with Lorenzo Sanchez SEVEN months ago! Here’s a recording of “Mountain Song” by Ned Rorem. My twelve year old birdie had just died before this concert. This song is for him.