When I was six years old, the memory of my nose bleeding sticks out like a sore, well…nose. It was gushing blood. I don’t remember how or why, but I guess that’s the thing about memory, the moments so full of feeling pull you from the world into that moment alone. Those are the moments that stick. They have the strength to pull you back in time.
I remember all I wanted was my parents. They were outside talking to a neighbor and I was too afraid to be seen. I was waiting for the right moment to tell them, when the neighbor went away, and I could be safe to come out of the bathroom, but the perfect moment never came. I was frustrated twirling around my porcelain sink and I started to cry.
The fear of acting at the perfect moment, a moment potentially better than last, often kept me from acting at all.
Today, as I rummage through the bottomless pit of my purse, I find the corner of the paperback book I am reading. Taping it back up with thick clear tape I say to myself, “Good as new.” It isn’t. It is clearly torn, but to me, the contents and the value of the story are just perfect, nothing has changed. If only we could look at our own brokenness with the same gentle nod of acceptance.
I prided myself on being a purist for so many years, failing often but striving still for nothing short of perfect. You see, until you meet the big bad fate of a truly unfortunate event, you think that perfection is your best bet. Now I know the simple idea of being okay and doing my best with what I’ve been given is all I can really hope for.
We certainly live in a culture of measuring up, when you think of all the ways we measure so called success and standards, it’s a tall order. Of course, if you can afford a Venti…. you should get that one instead! But not everybody can, and certainly not constantly. We’re constantly fed messages of how we’re not good enough. We’re not rich enough, smart enough, attractive enough, talented enough, or important enough. Our society places validation of self-worth in flawlessness instead of integrity and gusto.
I don’t know where you’d rank yourself on a scale of most imperfect perfectionist to Hermione Granger/ ridiculously good at everything. Or maybe you don’t mess with this perfectionist business at all; but here is my take on the matter; my little insight on how to look past seeking perfection, to appreciating the glorious wonder of gumption. IS THAT THE RIGHT WORD?
Step One: Get a grip.
You are imperfect just like everyone else. You need to approach your perfectionism with an outsider’s perspective – the guy on the bicycle wished he had even a beat up car, the guy in the beat up car, wanted the new car and the guy with the new car wished his car was a 2017 Bentley Continental GT. Gratitude is to keep you from despair. Healthy admiration is another tool to push you towards excellence and not unrealistic expectations. When you aspire to be the best, effort and accomplishments are in mind. Not like idealizing an unobtainable, instantaneous perfection.
Step Two: Stop procrastinating.
I understand the anxiety of tackling a big project or task can be daunting but, the sooner you face the music, the better you’ll feel.…… This ties in nicely with ownership – Own your mistakes and responsibilities. Do what is necessary first. I don’t enjoy paying bills or doing laundry but the more I manage the obligations, the more freedom I have to do the fun stuff guilt free.
Step Three: Accept it.
There is no such thing as perfect. Achieving mastery is done with discipline, drive, and devotion. I found aligning my goals with the acronym S.M.A.R.T. has been very effective, and catchy too. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific; Measureable; Achievable; Realistic; Time Management.
Step Four: Attitude.
Cheesy, yes but it’s proven effective. A positive attitude will improve your confidence and diminish self-doubt. Positivity is perceived more favorable than negativity and encourages more focus to complete a task than negativity.“Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves.” Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2012/01/positive-intelligence
Step Five: Fail.
you’re doing challenging things, new things, big things the odds are you’re going to fail and that’s okay. EVALUATE what perfection really means. Why wouldn’t you want to be perfect? Striving for high standards is one thing but proclaiming failure is anything less than perfect and is taking things to an unhealthy level. The thing is, the act of starting is the real accomplishment. People’s willingness to try and begin their journey regardless of failure is wildly undervalued. Perfection shouldn’t be interpreted as excellence but rather the catalyst to stress, negativity, disappointment and false truths of expectations. If you get caught up in the nitpicky role of perfecting every little thing, you’re missing the big picture. In my opinion, failure isn’t the worst possibility, not trying is.
Taking risks will lead to mistakes but the more you put yourself out there in at work, in sports, in relationships and extra toppings on your pizza- the more you’ll learn and grow. The butterfly had to leave the cocoon in order to fly and if no one had ever burned a marshmallow we would not have s’mores….and that would be tragic. Don’t turn your back on the value of winging it and don’t beat yourself up for shortfalls. That’s like chasing your tail. If you’re too hard on yourself you’ll end up getting all riled up and not accomplishing anything. Believe in yourself! Confidence is always in style. It makes the doing more fun and the accomplishments more rewarding.
Face it, there’s no real glory in being known as Ms./Mr. Perfect-Pants. Nothing and no one is perfect. The glory comes from seeing somethings through to the end. Whatever it is you’re creating - art, a delicious guacamole dish, or a new life for yourself - the recognition of making it happen is an exhilarating feeling that kicks perfect’s ass. Eye on the prize…..yeah if the prize is joy and prosperity. Can’t go wrong there.
Life doesn’t have to be an endless report card of achievements are appearances. Life is meant to be enjoyed so reward yourself for your accomplishments once in awhile and don’t be so hard on yourself. After all chasing perfect won’t lead you towards greatness, but a tenacious heart will move mountains.
Here are some articles full of great insight:
The many faces of perfectionism: http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov03/manyfaces.aspx
How to overcome perfectionism: https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/Perf...