Hello, hello friends! If you’re new here, welcome, and nice to meet you! And if not, welcome back old pal 🙂 I’ve got lots on my mind today so I’m just going to jump right in and we’ll see where this goes!
I’ve always been a worrier and a perfectionist. Pardon my repetitiveness if you know this about me already! I promise this is going somewhere :). Most of the time, my worry and dedication to getting-the-job-done-the-best-way-I-can is healthy. It motivates me and keeps me going. I always strive for that end goal and shiny finished product. Always. And that’s where I run into problems, when I can’t reach the end goal or finished product I had in mind. And there, dear friend, is where I run into the problem of a perfectionist perspective.
We all have some motivating factor, be it providing for our family, furthering our education to secure a better job, or just some internal drive to better ourselves, we’ve all got some ‘why’ that gets us up and moving in the morning. I’ve always been a forward-thinker and internally motivated to work hard and do my best, and so far, that’s always gotten me to where I want to go. The road wasn’t always paved or smooth, and I definitely hit some pot holes and had my fair share of flat tires, but I persevered onward.
Recently though, I haven’t been hitting all the “big” checkpoints I hoped for, and I haven’t been able to so easily avoid and maneuver around life’s obstacles. Which becomes a problem, when I’m still driving with a perfectionist perspective.
Still following? Let’s say I’m driving from Point A to Point B. My personal goal is to make the trip in 30 minutes, without stopping. In reality, I have enough time to take 60 minutes getting to Point B, with plenty of time for a pit stop to rest, or a scenic stop along the way. But still, I’ve decided to get there in 30 minutes or less, with no stops. I take off on the trip, and it takes me 45 minutes, instead of 30.
Did I successfully make the trip? Yes.
Did I accomplish my own perfectionist goal? No.
Was there any reason for my personal goal? No.
Did I miss out on potential stops to enjoy along the way? Yes.
Did I have additional benefit for arriving earlier than necessary? Not really.
Does that make sense? I hope it does. This ‘trip’ scenario is symbolic for my approach to life and the problems that arise with this method. As a perfectionist, I set goals that are sometimes unwarranted, unrealistic, and kind of just pointless. Not only that, but setting these goals can lead to the feeling of ‘failure’ (even when I did everything right, besides accomplishing my own ‘goal’, as in the case of still arriving to Point B on time) and feeling ‘less than’, simply because of my own expectations for myself.
Perfectionism isn’t always bad.
But it becomes problematic when it’s a constant lens to view all of life through.
It becomes problematic because life won’t always be perfect, no matter how hard we try.
It becomes problematic when we live trying to reach goals we set for ourselves many many years ago, that no longer match our current path and propulsion.
But it doesn’t have to be perfect. It won’t always be perfect. And we don’t have to meet all the goals we dream up. Sometimes, and many, many times, the only things making life feel ‘less than’ are our own perfectionist, above-and-beyond expectations.
“Sometimes, and many, many times, the only things making life feel ‘less than’ are our own perfectionist expectations.”
Y’all know I’m all about honesty. I’ll admit I’m a perfectionist, and I’m a pro at setting larger-than-life goals (like getting my bachelor’s degree in two and a half years, and hoping to be a professional writer in addition to my career). Again, it’s not always bad. But it definitely can be harmful, especially during the rougher patches of life.
I also think it’s important to recognize the areas of life where you’re more perfectionistic than others. I know I have much stricter standards for myself for school than I do for other things. I’m much harder on myself about maintaining all-A’s than I am about maintaining a perfectly clean room, for example.
I’ve been wrestling with my own perfectionist side lately, but I’ve also realized that the battle was even happening, which helps me adjust, and re-adjust my perspective. If you’re battling your own expectations for yourself, it might be time to re-adjust, too.
“I’ve learned that if you always set the bar to ‘perfect’, you’ll always fall short.”
And I’ve also (re-)learned that God isn’t calling us to perfection, either. And He also isn’t calling us to be so hard on ourselves! Once again, Emily Ley nailed this one in her first book, He calls us to grace, not perfection!
I hope you enjoyed this honest post!
If you’re a fellow perfectionist, drop me a comment below with the area you find yourself shooting for ‘perfect’ in, or your tips for adjusting your perspective, I’d love to hear from you!
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May 5, 2018
My own perfectionistic tendencies are tied to a performance idol in my life, where I felt like I always had to be performing in an outstanding manner to have value. Now I’ve learned my true identity in Christ, and I have more margin in my life to abide in Christ instead of always perform.
May 8, 2018
That is so beautiful!! I love how you’ve found a deeper purpose in Christ.
May 5, 2018
Thanks for sharing about your struggles Kristen.. I’m married to a perfectionist and I have some inclinations toward that too, so I totally identify with what you said. And I 100% agree that God calls us to grace, not perfection!
May 8, 2018
That is amazing!! And how beautiful to even be aware of that tendency in someone you love. I let it control me for so long instead of the other away around. Blessings!
May 5, 2018
Nice reminder… We need to show grace on ourselves!!
May 8, 2018
Yes we really do!! Blessings 🙂
May 5, 2018
I used to never liked setting goals because I always thought that if I set a hard goal and didn’t meet it, I somehow failed and I definitely didn’t like the idea of failure! But recently I’ve realized that goals are made to change and they are more of something to strive for. Obviously I want to accomplish my goals but sometimes life changes and we have to adjust or that goal just isn’t important anymore. Realizing this has definitely made me not be as hard on myself. Great post!
Megan xx insidemegansmind.com
May 8, 2018
I was the same way for awhile, but started setting smaller, attainable goals in 2017 and keeping track of them on my blog, and it’s been so fun! But it is frustrating to not meet even those goals sometimes. It is so important to realize that life happens though and things change. Thanks for reading, girl!