We all do it. Some do it worse than others. But I am convinced that we all do it at some point. What is it? Strive for perfection and compare ourselves to others.
We tell ourselves we are too old or not thin enough. She is richer than me. She has more patience than I do. Her kids are always so well behaved. They live in a better house. He is richer and more successful than I’ll ever be. She’s taller than me, faster than me, better than me, the list goes on and on.
Quit Aiming for Perfection
Many people today recommend trying not to pursue perfection. Lara Casey creator of PowerSheets and author of Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose and Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life has Progress Not Perfection as her motto.
There are many more who try to help us stop our search for perfection. Shawna Niequest wrote Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, just one of many books on the subject.
If you search for “not perfect” in the book section of Amazon, you’ll get 7,937 results. That’s just in books. We’re all trying to find a way to simplify our lives and quit comparing ourselves to everyone else. How can we keep from holding ourselves to these crazy standards?
The answer isn’t as simple as you think. Emily Ley wrote a book entitled Grace, Not Perfection. In her Facebook live presentation, she told a story about how she was having this problem, even when she had just finished her book. She had a serious meltdown because she had let things on her schedule get out of control, again. Even people that we think should be experts at it are constantly fighting the need for perfection.
It’s very easy to go from a place of a good, simplified life to a place of being overwhelmed without even realizing it’s happening. We just say yes to too many things and we then try to do all of them perfectly.
For truly Southern bred young ladies, the pressure to look like their life is perfect is extreme. You’re supposed to look your best and be completely in control. But it’s all a façade. All of us have something that is not going the way we want, it’s just hidden away from everyone’s view. Just because someone looks all put together and like they have a perfect doesn’t mean that’s really the way things are. Miranda Lambert even sings about this subject in “This Ain’t My Mama’s Broken Heart.”
I know first-hand how hard it is to let people see our imperfections, no matter what the cost. I have had fibromyalgia for over 20 years. I’ve dealt with quite a bit of pain for most of that time. But, very few people knew about my pain because I worked hard to keep it hidden away. Only my immediate family had any idea of the amount of pain I was dealing with. When the chronic fatigue started, I just added that to what I was hiding. I would put a smile on my face and go through my day like nothing was wrong. Until I got home and would completely break down in tears because the pain and exhaustion were so bad.
Creating Margin in Our Lives
We all try very hard to make our life look better than it is. We need to decide that it’s ok to be medium. What things can we say no to in order to give our lives margin? We need margin for the good things in life. Margin to rest. Margin to sleep. One of the best tools I’ve found for keeping margin in my life is the Daily Simplified Planner from Emily Ley. It still amazes me just how much starting with a clean slate each day does for keeping things in balance. Check out my full review of this planner here as well as all of my Planner Recommendations.
Say NO so you can say YES
We are all asked to do more things than are humanly possible in our lives. We have to make an intentional decision on which ones to say yes to. It won’t be the end of the world if you aren’t your son’s room mother this year. Instead, spend the time you would have spent organizing the parties and such with your son for quality time. You can’t say yes to everything. When you say no, just say it, don’t give an explanation or excuse. You don’t need to justify your decision to anyone but yourself.
How do you fight off the desire for perfection? What things are you saying no to so that you can say yes to the things that matter most? Let me know your experiences in the comments below.