Perfection vs. Persistence

young plant grow on the orange rock

If there’s one reason I’ve been able to do all the things I’ve done–like homeschool for 28 years, blog, run a household with a (very) large family–it’s because I’ve been persistent, rather than perfect. Perfection is overrated. It causes stress and discouragement for many of us, and it can be a form of fear and lack of self worth. Since I’ve had my perfectionist times just like everyone else, here are a few thoughts about perfection versus persistence:

Perfection paralyzes. We think that if we can’t do it perfectly, we can’t do it yet. Writing a blog, doing a workout, using a planner….they all languish on the “I need to do” list.

Persistence is doable, perfection is not. Perfection says you need to do an hour-long workout six days a week. Persistence says you can realistically, physically do a 15-minute workout four days a week. Or a 7-minute workout five days a week. Or whatever is realistic for you. Aim for progress, not perfection.

Persistence guards itself against perfection. Persistence understands that shooting for perfection is exhausting. Perfection drains joy and sets us up for burnout.

Persistence understands that it must be kind, while perfection is often unkind. Whether we’re expecting perfection from ourselves or our kids or our spouse, it can get ugly. To be persistent, we know we have to last over the long haul so we make allowances.

Perfection gets frustrated and discouraged…and quits. Persistence encourages itself when it must, and sets up systems to do so. For instance, someone who has a lot of weight to lose (like I did) can make a scrapbook of success stories from magazines or websites, reward themselves with new clothes at every size (hey, clearance and sales and thrift stores are cheap!) and set smaller goals along the journey. Everyone is different. Figure out how to motivate and encourage yourself, don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Persistence doesn’t look around and get jealous of others’ progress. Perfection compares itself constantly and feeds despair. When we get jealous of others, we don’t understand our own worth. And we’re usually comparing our faults with someone else’s strengths. To stay persistent, we have to keep our eyes on our own purpose.

Take the pressure off. Don’t try to be perfect, be persistent. If you fall down, get back up. If you stop, start back up. Don’t make it hard or complicated. Just begin again and keep going. No perfection required.

How do you shift gears when perfection starts to get the best of you? How do you stay persistent?


  1. Perfect timing! Seriously! This is our first day of home schooling–like our I think our 19th year, and for the first time I was feeling incompetent, anxious, “you aren’t able” this year. So I concentrated on verses from the Word on HELP, had a family meeting and prayer and now am feeling much more peace. I have a perfectionist bent but now TOTALLY embrace persistence. Thank you and have a great day!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Denise, sometimes I tell my kids “it doesn’t have to be fun but it does have to be done,” and we could say “it doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be done.” Of course that doesn’t rhyme so it’s not quite as effective, but you get the idea, lol

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Glad you liked it, Steph!

  2. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I go through waves of being behind in what I need to get done — sometimes a little behind, sometimes a lot behind, sometimes hit-the-ocean-floor behind. Whenever I start getting more behind, I think it will get better if I just leave out my workout for the day. But those lost workouts can not be made up! So I did a quick 15-minute workout, sweating from every pore, and feel invigorated for the rest of the day 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      GOOD for you, Amberly!! A short workout DONE beats a long workout not done because we’re overwhelmed or busy! 🙂

  3. So instead of thinking about “which workout” and finding the right one, I’m just going to go in there & do More Chair or Broom. That gets ‘something’ done. Sure beats what I’ve gotten done so far.

    1. Teresa Murray says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Charlotte! We are called to be faithful, regardless of the outcome.
      Do you have any advice for when you hit a plateau with weight loss and inch loss? I am getting discouraged, though still ttapping 4 to 5 times a week and eating very healthy. I have had hyperthyroid issues with pregnancy but now things seem to have gone the other way. Thanks! Teresa

    2. Charlotte Siems says:

      GREAT idea, Lois! Get ‘er done!

  4. I noticed that my perfectionism kicks in when l am over tired and really need to rest. I try to rest now when I feel the need to have eveything “just so”. When I create plans or a to do list and I am tired, they are a mile long and impossible to accomplish. My first TTapp workout is on my schedule for today! Hopefully, will add to my ways to recharge and go with the flow.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Angie, I love that you’re learning to “notice” and work with your need to care for yourself!

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