Moving Beyond Perfect, One Step at a Time

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time                      .

I am a perfectionist. No doubt about it. It affects every area of my life and it always has. Fear of being perfect has led to procrastination and complete stalls. It has always had an impact on my confidence too. Since I’ve always been the type of person that does it right or doesn’t do it at all, I would need to eat that whole elephant in one sitting or not even attempt it. Things are changing though.

Thankfully, the Lord has been working on me. I realize now that not much gets done with an all-or-nothing attitude. Rather, it means I get stuck. I can’t move forward. In a lifetime of weight loss efforts, it has meant that anything goes when I mess up my diet. Similarly, our financial philosophy (not one I would recommend) was blowing the budget or not following a budget at all because we were in debt anyway. For a long time, I couldn’t go to bed until at least the main areas of the house were all swept and mopped and at the beginning of our homeschool journey, I worried constantly about how our children would measure up.

Gradually, I am learning say, “It’s okay”. My kids are reading, writing and growing in our faith, even with interruptions and days off here and there. They make their own crafts independently. Crooked print jobs remain crooked. Our busy kitchen is cluttered and dust bunnies on our stairs get big enough to chase us. Don’t even talk to me about some of the dinners I’ve served to my family lately! I’m even learning to ask for help. And it’s okay. The world isn’t coming crashing down around me. In fact, I am feeling productive and I am finding time to enjoy my family.

Writing is another area where I have procrastinated instead of moving forward. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I started my novel in sixth grade. Unfortunately, I never felt good enough about myself to finish it and set writing aside for a long time. As an adult, my desire to write resurfaced but since my formal education was in a totally different area, I still felt unqualified. When I decided to go for it, the perfectionism came out in other ways. If I couldn’t write for several hours at a time, I put it off. Since I play a supporting role in my husband’s business, have children at home full-time and have a household to run, this meant indefinitely. Fortunately, my new approach to living is making its way into this area too. Now I’m realizing I can get a lot done in twenty minutes. It might not be perfect but it’s a start.

There are still several areas in my life where perfectionism is holding me back but rather than standing still, I am accepting progress in small amounts. I’ve always loved the saying, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” and now I’m putting it into practice.

What areas of your life are affected by perfectionism? What steps can you take to move forward today?

2 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Perfect, One Step at a Time

  1. I love that first line…one bite at a time. It is so true; and even if we can’t do it all in one sitting–keep chipping away at what must be done is the only way. Lately I’ve noticed I am an all or nothing sort of person too. I want it done right, I want it done now, and I want it done my way—because after all my way is best. But like you–I am learning that ‘one bite at a time’ will get the job done, and guess what? If it isn’t exactly the way I would do it–it’s ok–the world doesn’t come crashing down around me. My steps to move forward today—grace to others, and grace to myself. And, what you mentioned about 20 minutes is very true. I also am learning that a few minutes can allow me to do so much if I actually do something rather than just look at the mountain and talk about it.

    • I’ve actually been “chipping away” at quite a few different tasks since this post and things really are getting done. Speaking of “my way”, I am beginning to delegate more. It IS okay if the spatula goes in the knife drawer, right?

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