I heard it come out of my mouth “Perfect buddy!” My son asked me if he did a good job cleaning off the stairs… this is often my response when he does a good job. “Perfect!” But it took on a new meaning for me last week when he burst into tears when the project he was working on didn’t turn out “perfectly.” “Mommy, I just wanted it to be perfect!” My heart sank. Has this been the model I’ve set for him? That he has to be perfect? God, I hope not.
I don’t know when it started, but for most of my life I’ve tried to be perfect. I remember getting C’s in math and needing to get a tutor. I remember falling off the beam during a meet, and because of that fall I missed the all-around medal and a spot on the show team. I remember falling and almost breaking my ankle during basketball practice and a freshman taking my spot – that I never got back. And so many other things where instead of growing from setbacks, they just taught me that I couldn’t fail or the consequences would be dire. “Better not do that again.”
Whether spoken or unspoken, my perfectionism stemmed from unrealistic expectations. I am the QUEEN of piling too much on my day and then beating myself over the head for not getting it all done. I was like this in high school and college and my business… Can anyone see a pattern? So what did I need to change? Me.
I had to let myself see that progress is better than perfection.
Here’s what progress allows to happen… life. On Saturday I had a schedule – I was so tired of breaking promises to myself that I decided I was going to keep a schedule for the weekend and finally get back to yoga, bake with my kids, and go to the gym. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that 2 out of the 3 happened – I didn’t get a chance to bake with my kids because… life happened. So we’re going to try again. Because, that’s life! Taking steps in the direction of the goal is progress. Getting 2 out of 3 accomplished? Progress. It’s not all or nothing. It’s progress.
The balance is staying motivated when life comes your way instead of giving up. When the appointment takes longer, when your kids can’t find their shoes, when your daughter tears the living room apart to make a jungle gym… you must let go of that picture in your head and allow life to happen. If you keep the goal in mind and keep moving towards it, you’ll succeed! You’ll get there, you’ll reach the destination – as long as you keep moving forward.
Lisa Rhody says
Love the comment about letting life happen. I struggle with this too but sometimes it helps to yell “plot twist!” giggle it off and do your best to remind yourself that doing something makes more progress then waiting for things to be perfect.
This was a wonderful blog post. It’s so very important to help children understand progress over perfection especially as they grow because that will help them keep going when they find something hard.