What aren’t we doing?
I’m not talking about going to the gym or folding the laundry or flossing daily. I mean the big stuff. Life list material.
- Writing that book
- Performing in front of an audience
- Painting landscapes
- Opening a restaurant
- Running a marathon
It’s fun to come up with these grand plans and share them with friends and loved ones. We see our enthusiasm reflected in their eyes and think to ourselves, for a moment, “Hey, I could actually do this!” These are the people who will be in the front row at our book signing, hang our art in their living room, frequenting our restaurant—so long as we take that first step.
Only we can bring about these dreams. If we wait for circumstances to be “just right,” these dreams will get buried in an avalanche of mundane things. Like doing bicep curls at the gym. Or pairing up your family’s clean socks. When you look back—weeks, months, years from now—the socks will mean nothing.
“But I’ve been so busy,” we’ll think. “How could I possibly have found the time to these things?” We’ll scold ourselves for being lazy, and then go back to the socks. There’ll always be more socks.
Guilt never works. What does work is understanding the why behind the inaction. And here’s what I’ve learned about what’s beneath the surface. (Hint: It has nothing to do with being lazy.)
Perfectionism is unattainable. It’s an inverted form of procrastination. If we can’t write a brilliant first chapter; paint a breathtaking, snow-dappled evergreen, or bring an audience to its feet—to the super-human standards that we’ve set for ourselves–then it’s just not worth the effort.
Perfectionists are about the all or nothing. We don’t have time for mediocrity. But we’re expert sock sorters, dish scrubbers, and dutiful gym-goers. We focus our perfectionism on the things that—in the grand scheme of things—don’t really matter.
So, how do we break this ingrained habit of perfectionism?
We leap. We strive for imperfection. We show up for ourselves and keep at it. We celebrate progress—no matter how it looks. We enjoy the journey.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? . . . Your playing small does not serve the world.”
© 2010 Good Karma Housekeeping. Because Yoda was right–you’ve just gotta do it. (Photo by David @ InternosPhoto.com via Creative Commons.)