Monday, March 1, 2010

The Enemy is Perfection

Perfect peony

That's crazy, right? Perfection is the enemy? I mean, uh, aren't we supposed to be striving towards perfection? Isn't that a worthy goal?

No. Perfection is unattainable by us mere mortals. And focusing on perfection is what stymies me, time and time again. Over and over again, I am thwarted by my own too-lofty goals.

Does this sound familiar? Oh man, this kitchen floor is getting grimy. What I really need to do is move the furniture out and really thoroughly mop. But I don't have enough time to do that right now, so I'll just put it on my list to do later. I think to myself, why do a job halfway? If I'm going to clean the floor, I should really clean the floor. And guess what? The mythical time when I have the leisure to do the job exactly as it should be done? It never comes. And instead, I could have spent five minutes and gotten the floor a heck of a lot better.

Doing an inadequate or incomplete job right now, beats doing a "perfect" job at some indeterminate point in the future.

Worrying about doing things right, in the end, keeps me from doing them at all.

In school, I struggled with this every time I had to write a paper. In my mind, there existed the perfect paper. The fact that it was a myth made it no less real to me. And the knowledge that I could never produce this mythical perfect paper kept me from wanting to write anything at all.

That's dumb.

Every day, I resolve to be imperfect in all that I do, and leave the nonexistent "perfect" out of the equation. The specter of perfection hanging over my head is weighing me down, it's haunting me. I need to let it go. Embrace my imperfections, my quirks, my humanity.

Do you have an inner perfectionist, poisoning your thoughts? Banish it. It is incredibly freeing.

You'll never be able to eat off my kitchen floors. And you know what? I'm okay with that.


  1. feeling the exact same way right now!

  2. I'm with you. I think it is something we all struggle with on one level or another. Whenever I get overwhelmed with "things to do" I try to remind myself that I could do them, or I could leave them, and it would be just the same either way.


  3. So true. One of the things I have from my late mom is a black scarf. It's a lovely long one that goes around your neck and the ends are full of tiny little black beads. But, if you look closely, there is one bead that is not black. When she showed it to me after purchasing it many years ago, she mentioned that that one nonmatching bead was there purposely because there was no such thing as perfect.

  4. Wonderful! I've been thinking these same thoughts myself - glad to hear it!