Striving For Perfection—Wasting Time on Unrealistic Expectations & Comparisons

I have always been a Type A, high-energy person who has lots of goals and “to do” lists. My goals don’t include flying to the moon, being a rock star, becoming a neuroscientist, or anything amazing like that, but they are mine and they are important to me. I’m at my best and happiest when I’m meeting challenges head on and juggling lots of things at once. Sometimes, I feel like a hummingbird flying here and there trying to get it all done. I love that feeling. I’ve always enjoyed striving to reach new goals–until suddenly I wasn’t having fun anymore.

I’m not sure why or when it happened, but something shifted within me. I was trying to make everything “perfect” instead of enjoying the process of learning, creating, and reaching goals. Somehow, I got it stuck in my head that I needed to up the ante. I did this to myself—no one else did. I wanted everything to be “just so”. We all know there is no way to have the “perfect” body, hair, complexion, clothes, relationships, marriage, kids, career, or life. Perfection does not exist, but still…

I became a gerbil running on a never-ending wheel of “must do perfect” lists repeatedly trying to produce exceptional results. Every day, I pushed myself to do more and to do it better. I was never satisfied with my efforts and kept trying harder. It was exhausting.

I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that I ended up feeling as if I was always failing. I didn’t allow myself to take credit for how much I was getting done and how well I was doing it all. Eventually, I stopped trying to do things that I didn’t think I could do really well (perfect)—like writing. I don’t know why I was so caught up in all of that. I never held anyone else to the same standards, so why would I do that to myself?

Striving for “perfection” held me back from what I really wanted to do–create, play, laugh, write, relax, love, live, and get things done. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have ambitions or goals. I’m just saying that we need to set healthy realistic goals that work for us and don’t interfere with enjoying life and living it to its fullest.

Life has a way of shaking things up just when we need that to happen the most. I had some personal issues happen that were sort of like a slap in the face that I needed to wake me up out of my delusional quasi-perfectionistic coma. 

When I was nine months pregnant with my second daughter, Olivia, we sold our house, put all our belongings in storage, moved in with my in-laws because our new house wasn’t finished being built, and then Olivia arrived two weeks early per doctors orders because my blood pressure was through the roof, there wasn’t enough amniotic fluid, and Olivia was under stress. Our house was not ready. Did I mention that I was really sick the whole entire pregnancy and that I felt like I was being a horrible mom to my first daughter because I was tired and sick all the time?

Although I certainly didn’t feel like thanking anyone in the midst of all of this, now I can say, thank you universe for the wake up call. 

When I think back to the pressure and high standards I imposed on myself before Olivia was born, it seems utterly ridiculous. Perfectionism is not healthy or realistic. What is the point anyway?

The Beaver Cleaver family doesn’t exist in real life, the gorgeous models in the magazines are digitally altered to look “perfect”, and the men and women who look like they “have it all” are dealing with their own struggles. We are all perfectly unperfected. Our imperfections make us the unique beautiful people that we are meant to be and allow us to evolve, create, thrive, and grow.

The sooner we free ourselves of self-imposed invisible shackles and rigid rules, the sooner we can get to living life to its fullest. Not someone else’s idea of happiness—our own. The sooner we learn to love and embrace our mind, body, personality, quirks, and imperfections, the happier we will be.

Be confident in who you are. Believe in yourself. You are good enough exactly as you are! Yeah, that might sound cheesy, but I don’t care—it’s true! I’m convinced that is where true happiness is found.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Dr Wayne Dyer

by The Notebook Doodles

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sanyaliving
    May 11, 2011 @ 06:52:53

    Well said!
    I am guilty of not doing things I enjoy unless I judge them “worthy”.
    Worthy of what? Who knows!
    I get stuck in the mindset that if you do something you do it well and it has to have some higher meaning or purpose. With so many rules, all the fun things get pushed to the side and not much is left!


  2. mamajosie
    May 11, 2011 @ 08:18:16

    I love this post. I agree – well said.


  3. Liz
    May 11, 2011 @ 12:47:18

    Thank you, ladies!

    We only have this one life to do what we want to do, so we may as well do it!!


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