Overcome Your Biggest Enemy To Getting Started

“The key to overcoming procrastination is to strive for excellence instead of perfection.”

It was a very frustrating day in my life.   I had a very important presentation to make and I was running late. I got in my car and put the address into my GPS navigation system.  The response I got from the system was “searching for satellite signal”.  Out of frustration, I called the customer support line.  What the customer service agent told me applies to many of the entrepreneurs with whom I work.

She said, “Mr. Twiggs, with your model of GPS, you have to start moving towards your destination.  Once you are in motion, your system will engage and tell you what to do next.”

This experience taught me that the fastest way to get to where you are going is to start moving.  Keep reading and you will learn about the biggest enemy of getting started and how to overcome it. 

Perfectionism is procrastination in disguise.  A perfectionist believes that he has to have all of the details in perfect order before beginning a project.  He puts off going to the networking function because his updated business cards have not arrived.  He delays writing his book because he doesn’t know which publisher he will choose.  He does not hire that key employee because he does not know all of the details of how the new healthcare legislation will impact his business. 

The question becomes, what can you do to overcome perfectionism?  Taking the following two steps will answer this question:

  1. Be Clear On Your Destination - Steven Covey said it best: ”Begin with the end in mind.” The one thing that I had going for me in my GPS illustration was that I was certain about my destination.  Having a written plan that starts with a clear vision of where you want to end up is the key. 

    And, understanding the “why” behind what you are doing will make the “how” much easier. For example, my vision is to be a world class thought leader on the topic of time management.  Knowing this, makes me less likely to procrastinate when it comes to blogging or writing books.

  2. Take Small Steps – The question you have to ask yourself is: “What is the next step towards my goal?” A small step in the direction of your goal is significant, and a much better alternative than standing still.

If you are writing a book, the next step may be creating the title. Writing a business plan would be a good next step for starting a business. Creating a job description would be a good first step to the hiring process. 

Being clear on your destination and taking small steps in that direction will allow you to overcome perfectionism and to put off procrastination! 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional strategies on getting started, read my latest ebookOne Moment in Time.

Address the Root; Not the Result

"It’s not the towering sail but the unseen wind that moves the ship."

Asian Proverb

Back in my childhood days, I would help my parents by working in the backyard on the weekends.  They provided me with a set of clippers that I used to trim the bushes closest to the house. One day, I came across a weed growing nearby. In an effort to be helpful, I used the clippers to cut the weed so that it was no longer visible. I was proud of myself for eliminating this eye sore in an otherwise beautiful lawn. After several weeks, I was disappointed when I saw that the weed had grown back. The reason the weed grew back was that I failed to cut it at the root. I only dealt with what I saw on the surface. 

Procrastination is like that weed in the backyard. What you see on the surface is not the total picture. The consistent delay and constant lateness represent the surface. If the root cause is not addressed, this habit will continue to appear. Today you will learn the most common root cause of procrastination from my experience and what you can do to deal with it. 

The root of perfectionism will delay you from beginning a project until you have ALL of the answers.  Everything has to be perfect before the perfectionist gets started.  Sometimes the key to success is to start moving from where you are, and as you move the answers will come.   The solution to perfectionism is to break your major projects down into small and actionable next steps.  As you approach the project, the question you should ask is “What is the next action?” 

For example, if your project is writing a book, the next action may be to select a title.   If you are cleaning the garage, the next action may be to create a throw away pile.   If you are hiring a new employee, the next action may be to create an employment ad.  Each action will put you one step closer to your goal.   The most important aspect of the next action is that it is an observable behavior that is specific.  The following test will help you to determine if your action is specific enough:

Picture Test


If you can take a picture of yourself performing the action, you will know that the action is specific enough. You can take a picture of yourself creating an ad, throw away pile or book title so they each pass the test. Vague steps like trying harder, doing better, and working on it, do not pass the test.

Eliminating perfectionism through clear and observable action steps will help you to address procrastination at its root and improve your results. 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner 

PS. I am finalizing the world’s most comprehensive e-book on time management for executives and entrepreneurs. Please send me an e-mail with your most pressing time management concern. I will send you a free copy of the e-book as a thank you gift.