“Mom, I‘m done with my room; does it have to be perfect?” These are the words coming from my nine year old daughter as she cleans her room. I suddenly realize that I have affirmed her with the word “perfect” when completing a task “I” felt was how it should be done. What am I saying to her? Does she have to be perfect before I think she has done a good job? For example, if her grade improved from an 80 in math to 90, is that good or will she feel it needs to be a 100 to be accepted? Increasing her grade by 10 points is progress that needs to be celebrated and is a big accomplishment. I now speak to her different because I want her to celebrate progress not perfection; something I have learned in my own life.
Perfect is such a common word used by women today as there seems to be a need to achieve it. Then when perfection is not conquered, feelings of failure, guilt and insecurity can happen. Can you relate to the undue pressures we can put on ourselves in following areas of our life:
As a business owner, it is easy for me to have the mindset that I must get it all done asap, I should not make a mistake, and should grow at a rapid pace to be successful. However, I realize that every set back or failure gives me an opportunity to learn and do it differently. I must remember that, if I strived to have a perfect career and give 120% all of the time, there would be something else in my life that would suffer, like my family or health.
Wife and Mother
We can beat ourselves up thinking we need to be the perfect mother and wife. We want to do all and be all, but let’s get honest with who we are and what we can do. Is it possible to cook a four course meal every night, volunteer for numerous projects and have kids involved in every activity with a perfect IQ? Instead of trying to be perfect in every area, why not focus on making progress in the important things with our family. In one of my favorite books, Crazy Love, author Francis Chan quotes Tim Kizziar, “Our greatest fear as individuals should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Health and Fitness
I have seen and worked with many women who feel they must look, exercise and eat perfectly 100% of the time. Then when they don’t or feel they “slip up”, they quickly give up. It is helpful to remember two things:
- Failure teaches how to train, prepare or eat differently the next time.
- Feeling the need to ALWAYS do it perfectly, doesn’t allow for enjoying an occasional ice cream and special moment with a child or light workout and conversation with a girlfriend.
Moral perfection can be the hardest to achieve if trying to “be good” is your focus. Deciding to be obedient to God out of love and devotion, takes the attention and focus off of ourselves to be perfect. Philippians 1:6 reminds us of this in God’s word.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
God did not intend or expect us to be perfect, but desires that we grow and progress until the day of Jesus.
As you focus on your life as a work in progress, what might that look like for you?
- As you think about your career, what is one new contact, or new marketing/business strategy you could make this year?
- For families, it may mean eliminating certain activities that you “think” are necessary so that you may have more time to spend together building quality relationships.
- Instead of attempting to NEVER eat out, set a goal to cook two meals at home a week.
- To improve your fitness, add one day or one new thing different than you did last year and avoid trying too many new things at one time.
Celebrating progress builds confidence with a life of wellness and balance. Striving for perfection only leads to feelings of failure, exhaustion and possibly strained relationships.
I want my daughter to grow up feeling proud of her successes and good about her accomplishments. I want her to have a mother who spends time and celebrates with her instead of working hard to have everything just perfect.
What can you do this year to throw out unrealistic expectations and focus on taking small steps toward progress, not perfection.