Perfectionism is something I’ve celebrated and suffered with throughout my life. It’s brought me a good deal of success athletically, as a student, and leaves my home and car spotless on a daily basis (no small feat for a home to 7 people). But, this character trait has also led me to a long eating disorder and severe body image issues, made it hard to find balance in various areas of my life, and leaves my family dealing with my all or nothing attitude every day.
While being a perfectionist can make it seem like you’ve got things all buttoned up, it’s simultaneously what makes it impossibly difficult to ever feel satisfied enough to leave something and move onto something else. Or, what’s often even more immobilizing, is how hard it is to find the “perfect” time to start something.
How often do we wait for the perfect day and time to invite friends over for dinner? The perfect situation to have a hard conversation with a family member? The perfect day to start eliminating sugar or alcohol or processed foods from our diet? The perfect day to test our 1RM lifts, 1 mile run, or 2k row? The perfect time to start writing a book? The perfect time to finally clean out the storage closet or gather clothes to donate? Or, the perfect picture when everyone is looking happy and straight at the camera?
The truth of the matter is there is no perfect scenario. And, there will almost never be the perfect time for the hard stuff to happen…the stuff that makes you uncomfortable, that makes you really dig in and do work, or that makes you commit to something that you wish you could just have confirmation on whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do.
The truth of the matter is that when we wait around for things to be perfect, we either end up settling for something less than what could’ve been…or, worse yet, we entirely miss an opportunity.
Just put a date out for dinner, and whoever can make it will make it; you can always do another one. Just because you are going to a birthday party this weekend doesn’t mean that you need to wait until next Monday to start your new nutrition challenge. You don’t need to clean out the entire basement in one fell swoop; just pull together one bag of things to get rid of.
While I do think it’s worth waiting for a “better” time to have a tough talk with a friend, I don’t think all of the stars need to align perfectly for you to make it happen. Sometimes talks just have to happen on the phone instead of in person. And, dare I say, emailing someone can sometimes be better than never addressing something at all.
And you tell me: who would rather look at a “perfect” photo over one where one of your kids is elbow deep picking their nose while another one has his hand down his pants?
I have made my case.