Perfectionism Is to Procrastination as Progress is to… ?

Overcoming the fear of failure will help you get through life’s tough transitions faster and more effectively

Key Takeaways

  • Constantly striving for perfection can lead to paralyzing procrastination.
  • You can’t make real progress and learn without embracing failure sometimes.
  • Involving close friends and family members in your big life transitions will dramatically speed your progress, help you recover from missteps and enable you stay positive.

Remember when you were a kid, you wanted to get a 100 on all of your tests. We were always taught to strive for a perfect score, get to the perfect school, get the perfect life and so forth. Unfortunately, what often comes out of that perfection mindset is procrastination. Because to get something done perfectly, we have to spend a lot of time thinking about it, working on it and researching it. Many times we keep putting off a difficult task or decision because we don’t want to make a mistake.

Why failure is good for you; watch a toddler

But, if you want to make progress, you have to embrace failure. That’s right. Studies show that when we fail, learning takes place, change takes place and progress takes place. Watch any toddler who’s learning how to walk. It’s just amazing. If we fell down as many times as they did in a day our entire bodies would be ruined. But that’s how toddlers learn and eventually they get it.

As adults, our stumbles are more likely to be mental. That’s where we have the missteps, the mental bruises, the anguish, the anxiety, fear and trepidation, especially when we’re going through difficult transitions in our lives.

If somebody has a major health issue, for example, a typical reaction is denial: “It’s not happening to me,” they tell themselves. “I’m not going to go to the doctor,” they think. Or suppose someone loses a close family member, and you see them isolate themselves from the world in response to the death. That’s the opposite of what they should be doing. Denial and isolation also affects our financial transitions. We see pre-retirees completely ignoring the fact that they’re going to be retiring in two years, a year from now, or even six months from now. They should be engaged in the decision, not ignoring it. The key to this is failure. Because only after falling down can we figure out how to pick ourselves back up.

The power of close friends, family members and peers

Getting close friends and family members around you who’ve experienced what you’re going through is essential to picking yourself back up. About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with a heart issue. It’s not something that’s going to shorten my life necessarily, but it’s a critical thing that was very bothersome when I first found out about it. But, a week doesn’t go by when somebody hasn’t referred a close friend or family member to me for help. I’ve been through many procedures and it’s interesting to watch the friend or family member’s fear just melt away when I walk them through my own experiences. They learn to understand that their heart issue, while serious, is not as big a deal as they think.


Pre-retirement, death and other important life transitions have accounting, tax, investment and estate planning issues. You want to put together your team of experts in those areas right away. You want your family and close friends to help you make those decisions. And if some of the transitions don’t go as smoothly as planned, you have to embrace the failures, so you can make progress faster. If you or someone you know is having trouble making important life decisions, particularly financial ones, please don’t hesitate to call. We’re here to help. So until next time enjoy. Gary | 1-800-480-7913


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