This week is all about preparing New Year’s Resolutions. But New Year’s Resolutions are usually total crap. While the intention is good, what happens when we don’t follow through with them?
If you’re like me, you get down on yourself. What a loser. Failed again. I never follow through on anything.
This year, I have a great resolution for you. One that’s so easy to follow through with and won’t make you feel bad about yourself. Are you ready?
My resolution is to be more imperfect.
It gives me a little anxiety to write that. But what I’m learning is that perfectionism is poisonous.
Why Perfection is Poison
In his book, “How to Be an Imperfectionist,” Stephen Guise writes: “Perfectionism makes you stay home, not take chances, and procrastinate on projects; it makes you think your life is worse than it is; it keeps you from being yourself; it stresses you out; it tells you that good is bad; and it ignores the natural way in which things work.”
This is so true. We hope by making things perfect, it will protect us from disappointment. As Guise says, “If you never attempt something, you can’t know empirically that you’re not world-class at it.” Ouch.
I see this play out in my son’s life. He thinks he can do things better than anyone else. For example, he might see kids riding bikes around the neighborhood and then claim he could ride faster than them all. Yet he cannot ride a bike and doesn’t want to try. It’s extremely evident that he’s a perfectionist and this is something we are going to work on this year.
I know that I’m like this, too. In my head I’ve written hundreds of blog posts*, novels, children’s books, etc. Yet, none of them ever made it to paper. If it stays in my head, it’ll be this perfect little creation that can’t fail!
Obviously, we don’t know this when we are doing it. It wasn’t until I started reading Guise’s book that I realized this was perfectionist thinking. Like he says, perfection is protection. “It protects us from massively damaging our confidence and hopes.”
It also keeps us from following through on our hopes and dreams. It prevents us from taking action.
Imperfection is Action
That’s why this year will be the year of imperfection! Of trying things and failing…happily. And the perfect thing about this resolution is you literally cannot fail because failing is the whole point.
For me, some ways I can practice imperfection are:
- Putting myself out there more…having stronger opinions and opening myself up to criticism.
- Taking creative risks knowing I could totally fail…and being absolutely fine with it.
- Writing something without worrying if it’s perfect before publishing it!
It’s totally awesome to have goals, but let’s not punish ourselves when we don’t live up to our own incredibly high expectations. As long as we are taking imperfect steps toward our goals, then we are doing it right.
I believe perfectionist thinking is why it took me so long to get healthy. In his book, Guise talks about how motivation and perfectionism are connected. But motivation is in the mind. Thinking about going to the gym, it turns out, is enough to make you feel like you’ve done it. What we actually need to do is take an action…any action!
When I first started getting healthy in 2009, that was what worked for me. Taking action. I would always say that if I thought about it too much, I wouldn’t go out for that run or walk. Don’t think, just go, is what I always said to myself. And it worked. “Action itself is the best starting point for more action,” says Guise.
And then, the next step? Don’t worry if your action wasn’t perfect. The fact that you took action is what matters. Then, just keep taking that action to create a new habit knowing that it isn’t going to be a nice, smooth road.
Slept in and missed a day at the gym? No worries. Maybe today you just walk around the neighborhood. Or do some burpees in your bedroom. Just take the action…even if it is not the exact action you wanted it to be. “Never forget this,” says Guise, “It’s easier to change your mind and emotions by taking action than it is to change your actions by trying to think and feel differently.”
(Want to see how action can help you lose weight? Read Jamey’s transformation story here.)
I have no problems thinking about a work out now. I love to exercise. But I had to take the action first to get to that point.
Let Perfection Go
So, let your workouts be imperfect. Let your blog posts be imperfect. (Ha!) Let your life be imperfect. Because, spoiler alert, there is no such thing as perfection.
I read “Mary Poppins” for the first time recently. Of course, I’ve seen the Disney film a hundred times. What we don’t see as clearly in the movie version is Mary’s obsession with perfection. It’s off-putting, actually. But I think that was P.L. Travers’s way of saying, “Look. She’s NOT perfect. She’s got this absurd need to look perfect.”
Of course, we all know from the Disney film that her motto is: Practically perfect in every way. I’ve adopted it…with a slight change.
Practically imperfect in every way.
If we are aiming for perfection, we’ll never get where we want to be and we’ll constantly be letting ourselves down. That sounds miserable, yet we do it to every day.
Are you willing to be imperfect with me this year? I mean, you cannot fail at this because that’s the whole goal! Failure IS an option.
How are some ways you will be imperfect this year?
*Note: I was tempted to edit this post again, but I’m letting it go to print as it is. I hope it makes sense!
How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are