Perfectionism

Perfectionism.  This is something I have struggled for as long as I can remember.  One of my earliest memories is of my dad telling me, “If you are going to do something, you might as well do it right.”  I was in kindergarten.

That was a good lesson and has served me well throughout my life.  But, it can be taken too far.  When we don’t do something we enjoy because it won’t be perfect, we have wasted an opportunity.  When we procrastinate on an important task because we feel like it has to be done perfectly and need more time than we have at that moment, we set ourselves up for stress and late projects.  When I don’t take pictures of my kids because the house doesn’t look perfect or the outfit he or she is wearing isn’t clean, I’ve missed out on recording a cute moment all because of my perfectionism.  When I stay up an extra hour and make an extra trip to the store because I didn’t have that one ingredient for the meal I had planned to make that night, I miss out on necessary sleep all because of perfectionism.

Recently, I subscribed to the FlyLady (a recommendation from one of my dearest and oldest friends).  In today’s e-mail, they talked about perfectionism and how it can be an enemy in our lives, pushing us beyond our capacity and causing us to neglect our own health in its pursuit.  That really resonated with me.

Sometimes, I neglect to work out because I want my workout to be perfect.  I want my clothes to be perfect.  I want my house to be perfect.  I want to take care of my kids perfectly.  And I’ve missed out on joy, happy memories, and even health because of it.

Don’t let perfectionism distract you from what is important.  I love the FlyLady’s principle of setting a timer for 15 minutes.  I can clean for 15 minutes.  I can put fold & put away clothes for 15 minutes.  I can read to the kids for 15 minutes.  I can plan meals for 15 minutes.  I can pay bills for 15 minutes.  And then move on to something else.  I don’t have to agonize over making every detail perfect.  I can accomplish a lot in a short space of time, reducing stress and increasing joy and satisfaction in my life.

That’s very freeing.  I feel one step closer to achieving the balance I need to live healthfully.  Healthy living isn’t perfect living.  It is making good choices one moment at a time, without judgment, without guilt, and without perfectionism.

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