Perfection: the thief of “good enough”
Every now and then, I get whacked in the head with my own words, reading through the archives of this almost eight-year-old blog. It happened just this weekend, re-reading this post I wrote all the way back in 2010, when I was cuddling a newborn Finn and wrangling two preschoolers. My, how time flies—and even though my life stage is now different (that newborn now makes his own breakfast!), the message is still true. I needed it myself this weekend. Maybe you do, too.
If you suffer from perfectionism, then you’ll know what I’m talking about here.
I’ve been staring at this chest of drawers that serves as our family’s craft cabinet for about three weeks. It’s totally disheveled—scrapbook paper rests under a baggie of googly eyes; Christmas ornaments are somehow tucked in amongst the stickers and glitter pens. It honestly hasn’t been organized since we moved here four months ago.
I need to go through it and put things in order. A few hours of shuffling and sorting, and the craft supplies would be organized and easy to find.
But I haven’t started the project because the ideal craft cabinet in my head would take an entire afternoon, and a constantly nursing newborn and two preschoolers in the house means I barely get five minutes to focus on anything.
I’ve put it off because if I can’t do it perfectly, I think it’s better not to touch it at all.
It’s ridiculous, really. When I write it out right now, I realize how childish this thinking is. But there it is… perfectionism freezing me from doing anything at all.
I’m sure none of you can relate, eh?
The theft of perfectionism
When you let perfectionism get the best of you, you end up settling for less. If you can’t get a full work out at the gym, you won’t exercise at all. Because you don’t have the time or energy to scrub the kitchen counters to a spit shine, you’ll just let the day’s dishes pile up. You can’t really afford a full-scale organic garden in the backyard, so it feels pointless to even bother growing potted herbs from the kitchen window. Saving for a fully-funded emergency fund feels like it’ll take forever, so why even save your extra 50 bucks a month?
Last week my mother-in-law was in town, and she commented on how she almost never sewed when her kids were little because she could never find the time—until she started sewing 15 minutes at a time here and there, randomly throughout the day.
When she told me this, I was looking at my stacks of fabric and uncut patterns behind her. I knew she was right.
Are there things in your life you’re not enjoying because you can’t dedicate the time you wish you had? Do you have projects left undone, waiting until a perfect storm of time and money crosses your path?
Or are you okay with good enough? Have you found that sweet spot of contentment, where you’re happy with the afternoon at your favorite local haunt, even though a cruise to a tropical island sounds really good right now?
Let’s make time this week to tackle those projects and enjoy the small blessings that come our way, even when life is messy.
Spend 10 minutes curled up with a novel when the kids are miraculously quiet. Clear those breakfast dishes and empty the dishwasher, even if you have to leave the kitchen floor unswept. Paint your toenails—your fingernails can wait another day.
Me? I’m going to work on sewing my daughter’s dress and organize some craft supplies. I may only get to one drawer, and I’ll probably thread the machine right when my son spills lemonade down his pants.
But that’s okay… because I’m doing something instead of waiting for perfection. Life is beautifully imperfect, and it never stops.
What have you been putting off? What are you going to do this week?
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