February 4, 2020

Done Is Better Than Perfect

Posted in: My Story

I’m a recovering perfectionist.  And by recovering, I mean it is an everyday battle.  Sometimes the drive for perfection is so strong, I am mentally and emotionally paralyzed.  I get depressed and angry with myself if it’s not perfect.

People tease me about my OCD all the time.  I don’t mind.  It’s fun to make light of it and it’s a good reminder that done is better than perfect.  There’s no reward for perfection.  IF someone notices, you have momentary bliss until the next thing comes up that isn’t perfect.

My parents like to joke about how I was OCD even when I was younger.  I wouldn’t eat a Dorito if one of the three sides was broken.  It was a triangle shape and all parts of the triangle had to be there for me to eat it.  I wouldn’t eat a broken cracker.  It was a square and all sides had to be there.  When I ate M&M’s, I separated them by color and ate them in pairs.  I still do this, but it’s a little more discreet.  I don’t pour the bag out to separate the colors.  Instead, I grab two of the same color straight from the bag haha.

When it comes to work and responsibilities, I constantly have to remind myself that done is better than perfect or I would never finish anything.  Jon Acuff talks about how everyone has perfectionist tendencies in his book, Finish.  Have you ever wondered why most people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolutions?  It’s because of perfectionism.  Say that your resolution is to read for 15 minutes every day.  January 1 comes and you read for 15 minutes.  Then again on January 2.  You have a perfect streak for two weeks.  Then something happens that throws you off your regular schedule and you didn’t make reading a priority that day.  The next day comes and you are bummed that you broke your streak.  You give up because you missed a day.  “I might as well quit since I already messed up.”  Sound familiar?  We hear it more often with diets.  “I might as well cheat the rest of the day since I ate that cookie.”  Or maybe that “cheat day” turns into a cheat week.

Perfectionism is the main reason people don’t finish.  One of my goals for LAST year was to read one book per month.  I made this goal before I knew I was pregnant, but I was crushing it every month.  That is, until I had a baby.  I was about halfway finished with my August book when we scheduled an induction for August 30.  Suddenly there were plenty of other things that took priority over reading.

I tried reading that same book every month until the end of the year.  Between soaking up every moment with my newborn and all the weddings and sessions I had after maternity leave, reading was last on my to do list.

For 2020, I made the same goal to read one book per month.  My January 2020 book was the same as my August 2019 book.  And you know what?  I still didn’t finish it in January.  I finished it on February 2.  It may not have been perfect, but it was finally done.  As much as I love perfection, done felt so much better!

Jon Acuff tells us that if you’re not accomplishing your goal, cut it in half.  Maybe reading one book per month is too daunting with your hectic schedule.  Change it to reading one book every two months and it seems much easier to accomplish.   I love the he says to “Give yourself the gift of done.”  That room you have tried to declutter for 6 months?  Throw perfectionism out the window and just do it.  The book you’ve been wanting to read?  Make it a priority and start reading it today.  How much better would it feel to have it done?

  1. Douglas N. Shelton

    February 4th, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    You are growing! Yay! Now to follow your example!

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