It seems that I’m always making confessions here, but here I go again: I’m a perfectionist. The really sad part is, I used to wear that title like a badge of honor. Do it right or don’t do it all. Can I get an amen?
But–let’s be honest here–that meant there were many things I didn’t do because I knew they wouldn’t be perfect.
At the height of my fight with depression, my therapist used to ask me, “What’s a good-enough choice for this situation?” Being the Type-A overachiever that I am, I’m pretty sure I gave her a blank stare the first time I heard those words.
Good enough? What about doing your best, being number one, and all that jazz? I’m the firstborn in an overachieving, full-blooded American family of eight competitive, overachieving children. We don’t do “good enough.”
But I digress.
In that season of my life, I worked from home with no kids. James cooked. I cleaned—sort of. Life felt simple and easy, or at least it does looking back from today’s vantage point.
Living a life with the current challenges I face has forced me to embrace this mantra of making good enough choices. Come with me as I walk through five ways it’s improving my life.
1. More time
When we realize that everything doesn’t need to be just so, it frees up some of our time. For you KonMari converts out there, please hear me out: while a perfectly ordered drawer is indeed pleasing to the eye, for me it’s not worth the time and stress of trying to fold my socks and underwear a certain way.
My house is far from the cleanest house you’ll ever see, but it’s clean enough for now. I have a system, and none of us has died yet. Sure, I’m a little embarrassed by the dust sometimes, but I use the time I could spend dusting every darn day and do something fun with my kids or get a little more meaningful work done while they play.
In regards to time, you have to be the one weighing each decision. Washing the floor once a month used to be a good-enough choice. Now I have a toddler who spills food everywhere. What saved me time in the past (monthly washings) is no longer optimal.
2. Releasing perfectionism
This pains me greatly to say, but perfectionism is a sign of pride, and I’m not talking about a healthy pride here. We’re talking about a full-blown, obnoxious sense of moral superiority.
Am I really that much better than you—or any better, really—if my kids behave a certain way, my house is dust and clutter free, and I look like a million bucks? Because my calendar is in order? Because my in-box is empty when I sign out each night?
Sad to say, chances are I’m actually worse off because of these things. Additionally, I’m creating emotional barriers between myself and anyone else who doesn’t meet my standards. The result? I’m lonely.
Last year I entered an absolutely spotless home. No one there had ever entered mine, and yet I wanted to crawl under the floor boards. Why? Because I was judging myself against this homemaker’s standard. And knowing her, she’d never do that to me. But in that moment I created an emotional barrier between us and had to talk myself through the craziness at a later time.
3. Less Stress
Releasing perfectionism naturally leads to less stress. I remember from my teen years the cleaning rampages my mom would go on pre-company. We lived in a beautiful home that was generally neat and clean. Sure, with eight kids there were piles and messes, but nothing worth all that stress. My dad would tell her over and over, “Honey, they’re coming to see you, not the house.”
My mom still craves a clean and orderly house, but she’s mellowed with time. If the powder room is presentable and the kitchen’s in order, she’s good to go. And I guarantee you she’s less stressed than the woman I knew 15 years ago. (Also, she gave me permission to write this.) 😉
I face this choice every week when I hit “publish” on the latest post. Sure, I know there are going to be grammar issues and poorly crafted sentences. Two weeks ago I found a glaring spelling error and I wanted to crawl under a rock. However, if I’m not willing to share my “good enough” posts with you, there’d be nothing to read here.
4. Recognizing what’s truly important
If I asked you what you really want, could you tell me? What are your priorities, and in what order?
I know what my priorities *should* be: my faith, James, my kids, and then my work. A lot of times, though, they get all jumbled up—even turned around completely. And then we all suffer because of my poor choices.
This is a big part of why creating personal affirmations is vital. Every morning, you remind yourself: “this is what I’m about.”
What’s important to me?
Seeing God’s gifts and presence in my life
Encouraging, supporting, and building my relationship with James
Bringing hope and adding joy to the lives of those in my sphere
What’s important to you? Are you honoring that?
5. More energy for the things that truly need your best
Would you like to know my “good enough” Facebook plan? To wish happy birthday to my friends each day. Social media is important to me because of the ability to stay in touch with loved ones far away, but birthdays are all I can prioritize right now. And that’s okay.
How about my “good enough” cleaning plan? I talk about that in this post—don’t judge.
My good enough social plan? Contacting friends as I’m able. This is a tricky one. I feel excessive amounts of guilt for the state of my friendships, but I know that my family is my priority. When I can do both, great. If not, my friends will understand.
Making these good enough choices frees me up to spend evenings with James rather than running from event to event. It frees me up to set the phone down and run around outside with my kids rather than scrolling through my Facebook feed. And it frees me up to focus on my work rather than spending that energy scrubbing floors—and honestly, isn’t that a much better choice?
What about you?
Here’s a little gift for you—something I created during February of 2015 as I battled depression with art. You can access this printable under the Goodies tab. Print it and post it where you’ll be reminded to make thoughtful choices, even when the choice is simply: Good enough.
Note: This print was originally created on a traditional 3.5″ square Zentangle tile.