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  • Managing Perfectionism

    In the last couple of years, I’ve begun to truly understand what it means to be a perfectionist, and why that’s bad:

    Perfectionism = Fear of Failure = No Progress/Success

    I realized that there are a lot of things I wasn’t doing because I couldn’t or wouldn’t do them perfectly:

    I wouldn’t vacuum because I didn’t have time or the desire to vacuum the whole house.

    I didn’t exercise because I couldn’t run due to plantar fasciitis (though I could walk), and I didn’t do yoga because I’d eaten recently and you’re “supposed to” do yoga on a relatively empty stomach.

    I wouldn’t journal because it should be done at night to go over the day, but I don’t have time alone to be reflective at night.

    For someone else, it might be not writing a novel that’s itching to get out due to fear that it won’t come out a bestseller.

    Or denying the urge to decorate a cake because it won’t look like Martha Stewart or Duff Goldman did it.

    And so on and so forth.

    I began to truly understand what perfectionism was doing to me when I finally understood Flylady’s Weekly Home Blessing Hour and the idea that “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family!” That was a real eye-opener for me.

    I began to accept that doing things imperfectly is allowed!

    I was raised with the “do it right or not at all” approach, so you can imagine how revolutionary this concept was for me. And it’s transformed my life:

    I now clean my house in sections – I’ll vacuum the upstairs one day and the downstairs the next. I’ll clean one bathroom each day, instead of all three at once. I’ll dust one room but not another. The whole house may not be clean all at once, but everything does get cleaned, just at different times.

    I walk on the treadmill now, and take a Pilates class once a week, and while I’m nowhere near the condition I was in when I ran a 5K five years ago, at least I’m doing something.

    I journal most mornings now, because that’s when I’m alone and can think things through. It’s still made a difference in clarifying my thoughts, goals, and perspective.

    I’m still trying to figure out how “do it anyway” coexists with “do it right or not at all,” because I understand the value in putting forth your very best effort. But I guess it’s just that sometimes your very best effort isn’t warranted.

    What do you think?

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