The Antidote to Perfectionism is Life.

The antidote to perfection is life

Are you a perfectionist?

Someone who is constantly battling the need for things to be “just right” before you’re satisfied? Never actually feeling satisfied because you’re always finding something wrong with your efforts?

  • Projects at work
  • The state of your house
  • The blog post you’re agonising over
  • The behaviour of your kids
  • Your garden
  • Friendships
  • Your social life

The need to be perfect will invade every area of your life if you let it.

And guess what? You’ll never get there.

You, your work, your home, your kids – these things will never be perfect.

Can I tell you what’s better than perfection?

Living.

Living is better than perfection.

And anyway, perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Perfect is predictable
  • Perfect increases stress
  • Perfect hates to be messed with

I’ve discovered that the imperfections, the signs of life, the quirks and the idiosyncracies – these things are beauty.

You deserve to experience these things because you deserve beauty.

But what to do?

Let Your Standards Slip

Are you afraid of what will happen if you stop striving to be perfect?

Can I tell you what will happen?

  • you will achieve more
  • you will not be paralysed by the fear of being imperfect
  • you will give yourself permission to try new things, to be bad at new things, and to laugh at yourself being bad at new things

I don’t mean live like a pig, or eat whatever you want, or stop turning up to work. Please, don’t do any of those things.

But allow yourself to do your best and then let it go.

Let’s repeat that for emphasis: Do your best and then let it go.

What Do You Have to Gain by Letting Go?

By letting go – just a little – you will gain:

  • time
  • contentment
  • space for other things
  • productivity
  • energy

So please, stop holding yourself to impossible ideals.

You cannot have a perfect home, perfect children, a perfect partner, a perfect sex life and a perfect figure. Hell, you can’t even have one of these. Nothing and no-one is perfect.

Accept it and start living.

 

PS. This post is blunt and to the point. I hope you’re not offended by that.

PPS. This post is blunt and to the point because it was aimed at me as much as anyone else! xx

 

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38 Responses to The Antidote to Perfectionism is Life.

  1. I’m trying to learn that, and accept it. And I am getting better, but some days I do struggle with the imperfection that is me :)

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      I think that is such a human response, Tracey. Somedays it would just be EASIER if things ran perfectly. I hear you!

  2. Karen says:

    Love this post. It is spot on. Sometimes you have to blunt because it is the only way to get through.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Thanks, Karen. Sometimes bluntness is the only way, you’re right. Glad it got through – I know I needed to hear it. :)

  3. I love your bluntness and to-the-pointedness! We perfectionists aren’t too good at ‘hearing’ so we need the direct approach, lol! It is really, really, really hard to let go, even though WE KNOW why we have to and what is to be gained from it. Why? I’m not sure…but trying to be imperfectly perfect while I figure it out!

  4. Oh you are right on!! I think the worst part of perfectionism for me is that it causes procrastination and fear. I’ve been trying to learn that it’s better to get something done well than not do it at all because you’re worried it won’t be perfect.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      BINGO!! You’ve said it perfectly.

    • HappyTerrapin says:

      You are absolutely right! You are ahead of me by light-years…I’m still stuck into the state of fear which causes problems at work and home as well…:(
      I’m afraid of starting a lot of things just because I’m sure I won’t be satisfied with the result. Moreover I think other won’t be either.

      Brooke, thanks for the post and Jennifer thanks for the comment :)

    • Anna says:

      When seriously stuck on university work because my fear of failure paralysed me, I was told “Don’t get it right, get it written”! I was so afraid it wouldn’t be good enough I was finding any excuse not to write at all. It isn’t easy, but we HAVE to allow ourselves to be less than perfect, or we will get nowhere.

  5. Ana M. says:

    I really really loved this post! Thank you so much :)

  6. Igitte says:

    Thanks for reminding! Its so easy to forget and to fall back in the “i have everything under control” behaviour.

  7. Such a hard lesson to learn…but getting there.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Totally. As I said at the bottom of the post – this is blunt and to the point so that I may listen too! But if I look at where I have been and where I am now, the changes are happening. But it certainly is a hard lesson to learn.

  8. [...] I “sound” right and that it conveys the message perfectly. After all, I want to have a go at swapping perfectionism for the joy of life. Share [...]

  9. I think people are perfectionists about minimalism more than anything else. And focusing more on the amount of possessions you own is really counter to everything that minimalism is supposed to be.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Agreed!! There is no set-in-stone rules that I’ve ever seen on Minimalism. And even if there was, I certainly wouldn’t follow them. This whole journey is about finding your own best way. And for me, counting my possessions – just so I can cull them to an arbitrary number – is not the best way.

      Diffrent strokes though I guess. x

  10. Tam says:

    Brooke, so often your posts make me take a big cleansing breath, and it feels SO GOOD!

    Perfectionism makes me put off the things I want to do in fear that I won’t do them perfectly. It has got to go. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. I think the real danger behind perfectionism is that people don’t even try. The fear of falling short is paralyzing. As you said, “Living is better than perfection”.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      I like that, Christine. Good enough is good enough. And I know that flies in the face of so much of what we’re taught, but it’s important to understand. Otherwise, as you say, we often won’t even try.

  12. To be blunt, perfection is also selfish as it takes up time you could be spending with others or relaxing and therefore making yourself nicer to be around. Easier said than done though, eh?

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      I think you’re right on both counts. Pursuing perfection can be a selfish act that takes you away from those who love you. And it definitely is also easier said than done!

  13. keishua says:

    blunt is good. perfectionism is such a soul sucker.

  14. Kellie says:

    Umm…Brooke, have you been reading my mind? Have you been looking in my window as I gaze around the toy-nado in my living room that makes me huff, or in the bathroom when I sigh at the mirror, or my desk at work which I rearrange instead of actually working?

    Thank-you…. I needed that!

    Kellie

  15. Di says:

    Thank you! Xxxx

  16. angie says:

    Bring on the blunt! I love it! Great post – as always – thanks!

  17. Do your best and then let it go – thank you for reminding us of such an important way of looking at things! I’ve always been a perfectionist, but I’ve realised in the last year or so that if I want to be able to do all the things I want to do (blogging, studying, other creative projects, working, remaining sane), I need to readjust my standards to do the best I can do right now, with the time and energy available to me. Not the best I could do with unlimited time and energy! And once it’s done, to let it go and appreciate that I did what I could.

    • “I need to readjust my standards to do the best I can do right now, with the time and energy available to me. Not the best I could do with unlimited time and energy!”

      LOVE it, Emma!

  18. Marie says:

    I appreciate blunt and to the point!
    :-)

  19. M says:

    I’m a lurker, but I’ve loved your blog for a while now. :) You’re so right – living so beats perfectionism! I try to practice with little things, like only tasting a soup twice or so to check if it’s seasoned the way I want it, and then just serve and eat the soup already. I’ve also realized, as you say, that I won’t get anything done when I’m in my perfectionist mode, and I’m starting to let go more and more. For me though, doing my best doesn’t work, because for me that means doing everything humanly possible to “get it right”, like staying up all night etc. I try to go with doing what I can up until the point where I start to hate my life. Then I know that I need to give myself some slack, and then I start liking my life again. :)

    • Hello M! Thanks for saying hi. :)
      Your point about doing everything humanly possible really struck a chord. Because you’re right – when you have perfectionistic tendencies, it’s so easy to keep pushing ourselves to go that little bit further, making it a little bit better. We really do need to balance that with enjoying life. Love it. Thanks for sharing!

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