I will be happily less than perfect
Nothing drives burnout like a healthy dose of perfectionism. Dialling back the tendency for perfectionism might just be the greatest decision you make for your wellbeing and stress levels.
Depending on our personality type, it can be hard not to react to the parade of perfect presented around us. So much media content (traditional and social) magnifies perfect that it can be viewed, not as inspirational and aspirational (and with a healthy pinch of salt), but as evidence that we are somehow not quite good enough.
That we just don’t have our shit together in a world where everyone else miraculously seems to. But… if we just push that little bit harder, get up that little bit earlier, keep things just that bit more organised and make a just a few more lists, we might just get there. Perfect hangs tantalisingly just out of our grasp like a carrot on a stick.
Like the oasis in the desert, it’s not really there. It’s an unstable image that changes according to our perception and viewpoint. Striving to reach that place of perfection is absolutely exhausting, and for every step nearer we take, it will get another step further away.
You can choose to dial down the perfectionism this year with a few simple decisions:
- Do something with – Shock! Horror! – 80% effort. Knowingly don’t do something to the best of your ability! Woot! Pick something that’s not that important and do it okay. Just get it done. And move on. Not everything has to be perfect. Pick something that is of moderate importance and just get it done, not perfect but done.
- Do something with – even more shock horror! – just 50% of your best. Whoa! Pick something that really doesn’t matter that much and just get it done any old how, and move on. Realise you don’t even think about it ever again and that time, energy and capacity is better invested elsewhere.
- Cut a corner. On purpose! Like, BUY A CAKE for the bring a plate thing. And just don’t sweat it. Stick it on a plate. Grab a drink. Move on. Some things just don’t matter that much, and applying the quest for perfect to them just makes us tired, not perfect.
- Delegate something. Know that it won’t be done to the same high standard that you do it yourself. Be okay with that. Done is better than perfect.
- Save perfect for when it REALLY counts, not as your default setting. The make or break presentation that’s going to win the new account. Measuring out the medicine to the exact dose required. Being on time for your brother’s wedding. Bust “Perfect” out of the bag when it really matters, not as a matter of course.
Trying to live up to perfect all the time is fantastically stress-inducing and an incredibly knackering way to live. Let in a little more rest, relaxation, and create space for spontaneity and happiness to run their magical ephemeral course. There is a lot more to life than doing it all right all the time and ticking everything off just so.
Cut yourself some slack, release the grip of perfect and know, for the vast majority of the time, progress is better than perfection, and done is far better than perfect.