Tag Archives: perfection

02Feb/11

Whare did all the Time go?

I’ve realised I’ve got a problem with time.

I am almost paralysed by fear that I might not choose the best thing to do in the time available to me.  I am constantly thinking about how to best use my time, what can I do to be most effective, to be most productive, to achieve the most. Which things do I want to achieve in the time I have this week?  What is the most important thing for me?  Should I put my family and children’s interest first – are they more important? Or should I put my business first because obviously if I’m happy with work, then I’m a happier and better mum and wife.  The constant choices I bombard myself with are never-ending.  What should I do? Who should I be? What do I want to achieve?  What do I want to do? What is best? What is most important?

What I am really asking is:  When will I ever get there? When will I ever be good enough? Who do I even want to be? How can I create perfection? How can I feel satisfied?

Its exhausting. And needless to say, it doesn’t get me anywhere. It poisons my creativity and spontaneity and joy.  I am ground down by the supposed seriousness of the constant decisions I have to make on ‘the best use of my time’. I am always judging myself, and the choices I make.  I have to make the perfect decision. And I can’t. And its making me crazy.

So I’ve decided to stop striving.  I have just started reading a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection in which she says the difference between people who live a wholehearted life (i.e. people who are truly happy) and those who don’t is their belief that they are enough, already.  In other words they don’t have to prove anything. Instead they are brave and open and vulnerable and connected and they believe they are worthy.  So that’s my challenge for the next few weeks* – to remind myself that I am enough already, and that I don’t always need to make the right decisions and use my time perfectly to be a worthy person. I am one already.

*I think I meant to say ‘years’…

The Gifts of Imperfection

08Dec/10

Striving for Perfection

My name is Thea Jolly and I am a perfectionist.  It’s been 8 minutes since I set my last impossible and unachievable goal.

I’m not one of those really hard working perfectionists that succeed at pretty much everything but still think they are a failure.  I am what I call an idealistic perfectionist, which is probably another way of saying a lazy perfectionist. I have high ideals and goals for myself, but I don’t quite get them achieved – or even started. But somehow I always think I will achieve them, so when I inevitably don’t achieve them I feel like I’ve failed for not reaching my own impossible standards.

An idealistic perfectionist like me spends their days noticing or remembering or creating a long list of jobs, standards, goals that they should do which will make their life perfect.  The chatter in their heads is constant, always judging, analysing, questionning.  We agonise over the best, most perfect, use of our time because we have to achieve the most within the time we have. We are eternally optimistic about what we will get done today and always suprised when we don’t do it. The expectations we have of ourselves are crazy.

But last week, I had a bit of a revelation (if revelations can come in bits?).  I realised that being an idealistic perfectionist wasn’t a very good idea at all.  You see, previously I’d been almost proud of this personality trait.  I knew that it meant I was my harshest critic, and that I set my standards too high, but I also thought that this was better than being otherwise. No one else is going to kick me up the backside to make me a better mum, or a successful businesswoman, so I had to rely on myself to push me along. And improving and learning is what we are here for isn’t it? (I still agree with this last sentance.)

One of the causes of my change of heart was seeing my eldest son displaying the same perfectionist attitudes and behaviours. Seeing this in another person, especially one so young – he’s 8 – and who I love so much, showed me how self-destructive, defeating and just plain wrong it all was. So I decided to give it up.  Like an alcoholic who chooses not to drink each day I am now choosing not to set impossible goals and expectations each day.  Unlike an alcoholic who can’t undrink a forbidden glass of wine, I can replace my bad thoughts with more liberating and constructive ones.  Every time I think, “Oh I could finish the ironing tonight” (all 3 baskets of it!) I tell myself, “Hang on a sec, you don’t want to be perfect anymore, so lets just do it for 30 minutes .”  And when the children are arguing and I start to feel like they are spoiling everything, I remind myself, “That’s fine, life isn’t meant to be perfect all the time. It doesn’t matter if my children fight – it’s their job.” And I smile to myself and glide serenely past. Or most probably I don’t, but I’m trying. Either way it doesn’t matter because I’m not striving for perfection any more. I’m allowing myself to be imperfect and it’s incredibly liberating.