“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” ~ Michael J. Fox
Just this evening I had a brief exchange with a friend who is writing a book. It is a deeply personal story that she has been writing for quite some time. And she’s done! But she struggles with something that many of us do and not just with writing – and that is, perfection. She keeps going back to the story and her words and her emotions… finding yet more to change in her quest for perfection.
Perfection has different meanings for each of us. What complicates our relationship with perfection is our denial of two very basic truths: 1) We are not perfect and; 2) We are not, ultimately, in control.
In some cases, I still aspire to perfection. It is almost as though I am hard-wired to do flawless work (though obviously, not with my blog posts). 🙂 When we make mistakes we often believe that we are not meeting our own or others’ expectations. And who wants to fall short? Yet, if life is about experimenting, experiencing, and learning, then to be imperfect is essential.
I have a close friend who, when it came to my perfectionist leanings, once told me to “Stop the insanity.” “Why are you doing this to yourself?” If you have ever been there or still have tendencies to perfect… and would like to change that, here are three considerations:
- Practice the opposite. Be purposefully imperfect. See what happens. Arrive ten minutes late to work. Tell a lousy joke. Mismatch your socks. Laugh as you contemplate the possibility that imperfections are not only okay, they are life enhancing.
- Disclose everything. There are few things more freeing than confession. Not necessarily to a priest but to a safe, trustworthy friend. Write down everything you’re afraid, ashamed, and embarrassed of, and read them to that person. You will likely be surprised when they look you in the eye and say, “I still love you.” This is a first step to discovering how imperfect you are without your armor.
- Let go of your worries. By obsessing about the past, what happened, what we think we did wrong (or someone else did wrong), we are giving our power away. Be here, now, and focus on creating an imperfect (yet beautiful) life for yourself. Focus on reasonable, achievable possibilities, and practical/doable solutions.