If there’s one reason I’ve been able to do all the things I’ve done–like lose 100 pounds, 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?