I always thought that if I was thin rather than chubby, my life would be perfect. When that happened and nothing changed, I thought okay, what I need is massive career success. And then, life would be perfect. Still no luck. Next came the fabulous house, fancy cruise ship vacations, and a social calendar chock full of end to end activity.
Long story short, the perfect life was still elusive. The solution, in time, was to downsize, abandon city life, and move to an offshore island in Washington State, aka the most beautiful place on the planet.
Once there, something magical happened. The outdoors became my haven. With miles of shoreline coupled with wooded trails, the beauty and serenity became my friend. There were no big box stores or shopping malls, and no keeping up with an exhausting social calendar. Life was bliss. For awhile. The isolation and sameness eventually got to me so almost ten years later, I once again ran away, this time to Arizona.
But all was and is not perfect. I am still stressed and facing a to-do list that is growing so rapidly that I can not keep up. I thought about starting a bullet journal but that would be one more chore. The answer, perhaps, is to adopt a “good enough” mentality and to quit chasing perfection.
Quit Chasing Perfection and Get On With Life
In the journey of life, I have learned that perfection is an elusive rat hole that is unachievable. It has taken retirement to bring me to this realization. Without deadlines, there comes a clarity of spirit and mind. Who would have thought it? After due consideration, here are some of the simple strategies I have embraced to let go of perfection.
6 Simple Strategies for Letting Go of Perfection
1. Be slow to say yes and quick to say no
My A-type personality compels me to respond to every request and to be a friend to everyone. “Yes, of course” are words I say often. Now I think first and speak later. Sometimes I stall so I can give the request due consideration. Alternatively, just say no from the get go and move on. Done.
2. Say goodbye to hurtful experiences that occurred in the past
It happens to all of us. Something happened years ago and we can’t let go. Well, let it. Whether a family, friend or work situation, letting it go and moving on will give you a renewed outlook. Self-serving as it is, this really works.
3. Clean up your digital life
There are three parts to this.
First, if there is no reason to respond to a text or email, don’t. Talk about a time sink. Believe me, I send out tons of emails that require no acknowledgment and yet I get pinged back 50% of the time. putting me on a digital treadmill. I have stopped responding to each and every digital message. So far, the extra time I have added to my day surpasses the guilt I feel for not being “responsive”.
Second, there is no way in heck you are going to read everything that hits your inbox, so don’t just hit the delete key, unsubscribe to superfluous newsletters and RSS feeds. If you miss them, you can always subscribe later, right?
Third, take a Facebook (or email, Twitter, Pinterest) holiday. You do not have to be a millennial to suffer from the “if I don’t check Facebook I might miss something” syndrome. I can say with 100% certainty that stepping away from Facebook for a day, a week, or even a month will not damage your reputation among your peers. The reward from stepping back for a period will be time to do something else. And I mean lots of time, so much so that you just might be shocked. I was. These days I check my personal Facebook page maybe twice a week and I am here to say I lived through it.
4. Remind yourself that the “Good Enough Method of Housekeeping” is really good enough
Maintaining a clean, tidy, and uncluttered home is a proven stress reliever Being able to eat off your floors? Not so much. In years past, I have been so driven to have a spotless home that I would put off meeting with friends or pursuing leisure activities to I could scrub, clean, and do laundry. These days I prioritize. Scrumptiously clean bathrooms and kitchen counters and sinks? Definitely. Making the bed so it looks Pinterest picture perfect? Not so much.
Pencil out your priorities and draw a line at the point where things are good enough.
5. Quitting is okay
Whether it is a new hobby that did not pan out, a book that is tedious and boring, or something else, sometimes you have to give it up. This happens to me a lot with my grown-up coloring pages. After getting started on a project that is less than stellar, I feel compelled to finish. This makes me resentful of a hobby I love which is just plain stupid. Now I scribble up the page, tear it out of the book, wad it into a ball, and dump it in the recycle bin. Yes, a minor but harmless, temper tantrum but so what? Out of sight, out of mind. It works,
6. Play more, work less
Do kid stuff. Kids are unspoiled by life and pursue pleasure without getting bogged by coulda woulda shoulda events of the past. Play with your dog, put together puzzles, color in grown-up coloring books, or build a sand castle. Take some time to get out from under deadlines and just play for the sake of enjoyment with no goal other than mindless distraction.
Perfection As a Relationship Mindset
After reading through these six strategies you may be scratching your head and asking what some of these have to do with perfection.
To address that, let me say this: being perfect can take many forms, including having perfect relationships. Remember to include yourself in that equation. Saying no (or not saying yes), taking adequate time to play, and spending less time being social and more time with yourself can all contribute to a more stress-free life. It is a mindset you may need to get used to but once you do, you will sleep better and wake each morning with a renewed gusto for doing the stuff – whatever that stuff may be.
“… for a type A personality, it is not hard to push oneself hard. Pushing oneself to the limit is easy! The real challenge for the person who thrives on challenges is to not work hard. “
That, for me, pretty much summarizes what we need to do to accept being less than perfect. I don’t know about you, but for me, not working so hard and not being so perfect go hand in hand.
Strategic Haul: I have had a few requests to bring back the “Bargain Bin”. For those of you not familiar, in my previous life, my blog posts included a section where I would suggest products that support the topic at hand. With the Strategic Haul, I want to bring that back in an abbreviated form. These are products I have purchased myself and own and use on a regular basis. Most include affiliate links so just to be clear, I do earn a small commission on your purchase.
Grown-up Coloring Books: Being less than perfect means finding more time for quiet pursuits. This week I am spending some time relaxing and enjoying The Artful Mandala by Cher Kaufman. The page below was done using inexpensive Sharpies with glitter accents from gel pens.
Spark Naturals, my favorite EO company, is once again honoring my 10% discount code. Use code GAYELEVY at checkout and get another 10% off both regular priced and sale items.