It’s the beginning of December, the time of year when we reflect back on the past 11 months. We set goals to accomplish the things we said we were going to get done this year before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
This is a podcast that has been brewing in my mind for a while. I’ve often said “progress over perfection” and “done is better than perfect.” But perfection is a good thing, not a bad thing, right?
Should we strive for perfection?
I don’t think perfection is something to be idolized. I’m very goal orientated but I’m not a perfectionist, although I have lots of goals that I want to accomplish.
I first realized I wasn’t a perfectionist in 8th Grade. I couldn’t get to that ideal of straight A’s.
I always had a floating C on my report card. I remember failing a test because I wasn’t getting the information clearly. I was seeing it differently. Later, I found out I had dyslexia which made a lot of sense!
We all see the world in a different way. There is no one exactly like you. When we strive for perfection, what is the outside marker that deems we are doing a good job? Who is the judge of what perfection is? Perfect to one person may not be perfect to another.
I want to change our vocabulary from perfectionism to excellence
I’m definitely a woman of excellence. I try to be excellent in everything I do, but I don’t strive for perfection.
- The definition of perfection is “the condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible of all flaws or defects” or “the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.”
- The definition of excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good” and “an outstanding feature or quality.”
They sound pretty similar and, in some cases, the words can be used interchangeably. The difference is the intent behind the words and the way they make you feel.
When you are going for the perfect room, the perfect picture, the perfect goal weight, you are fixated on what the outcome is going to look like. Is it your level of perfect or someone else’s level of perfect?
Expectations of others
In the past, when I’ve thought I could get something perfect, the problem was that it never was.
My husband has perfectionistic tendencies. When we were newly married and I would paint a room or complete an organizing project, my husband would come in, inspect it, and find the flaws… which I can tell you, I was not very happy about!
I’m a good enough painter. I saved us a lot of money painting the rooms. They’re not perfect, but they’re beautiful. I did the best that I could with the resources I had and I finished the job. I did it with excellence.
But when I tried to meet the expectations of other people, I felt judged. Am I ever going to be good enough?
When you strive for perfection, the definition alone tells you “the condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible of all flaws or defects.”
Free of all flaws and defects? Are you kidding? We’re in a fallen world. We can’t be free of flaws because we’re human.
Excellence IS achievable
I am so much happier now that I’m striving for excellence. But I was 30 years old before I decided to be a woman of excellence.
For example, I spent years watching my best friend do everything… parenting, being hospitable, and being a friend… with excellence. One day, I just started doing what she did. I used to spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that I had chores to do, or waiting until the chores filled up a block of time, or resenting that I had to do the chores.
Now, if I’m walking by and I see something that needs doing… laundry to put away, something to pick up… I do it right away.
I’ve become a person of action and excellence.
How does this relate to you?
When you are looking to get your house organized or become a more productive person, there is a tendency for us to dream about what it’s going to be like when everything is perfectly organized. It’s not going to happen.
I want to change your mindset here. If you’re striving for perfection, your days are going to end in frustration and defeat. You are not going to get there.
The thing I found out when striving for excellence is that “done is better than perfect.”
Excellence in action
So, this is how excellence plays out for me.
Everyday, I set out to do one to three big tasks, things I want to knock off my to-do list. Often, I’ve done most of them by noon and I add more. And everyday I am amazed at what I get done, but I don’t set myself up for failure trying to be perfect at things.
Excellence is taking the next step. It’s not about having a perfect outcome. It’s just looking at the next step that needs to be done, taking the action, then figuring out what the next step is.
There’s none of the inner dialogue. Whenever I am trying to do something to be perfect, I spend so much time thinking about it, talking to myself about it, and preparing to do it instead of just doing it.
When I act as a person of excellence, I just want to have this house well-run and everyone have what they need.
How do you feel about excellence?
There’s no real action to take, but I just want you to start thinking about the different feelings you have when acting in a perfect way or acting in excellence.
How much time do you spend internally dialoguing with yourself over your own expectations?
- How your house looks
- How organized different spaces are
- How perfectly you do something
- How much of your time is wasted on the thinking and not the doing
Sometimes in the doing, in the action, the perfect answer will come to you. A more excellent way will be revealed.
If you have a couple of things on your list that you want to get done in the morning, just go ahead and attack those things with excellence, doing the next thing you know how to do. You will get so much more done than if you try to do one thing perfectly everyday.