“Practice makes perfect!”
“Only Jesus is perfect in this world!”
….what is the truth behind perfection? And why do we all obsess over perfection?
Here are two examples of ‘perfection stress’ I read about from two influencers from their Instagram posts and it really got me thinking about this topic. (Names changed)
- Janie stressed about the perfect photo. She was obsessed with making sure they got the perfect shot for her instagram account, and would make her husband and son retake photos over and over to where it made them all miserable. Her makeup was always perfect, hair always perfectly styled (and with a toddler…most days I’m happy when I brush my hair!). And yes, her life does look perfect and instagram-worthy.
- Nicole stressed about her macros and weighed all her food on a food scale. She was a bikini competitor, and so her macros and food weights had to be prefect- down to the ounce. She brought her food scale to restaurants- or she just wouldn’t go. She would miss out on social time with friends if needed. It paid off though- she looked amazed and did really well in her competitions. She grew a huge following, mainly based on her body image.
Does perfection lead to success… or stress? Where do you draw the line?
These two women in the examples have gone on to great success. They are both influencers in their communities and have undoubtedly reached monetary success along the way that could make many jealous. Was the stress of trying to reach perfection worth it? Maybe so. Both of these girls eventually broke free from the obsessions and the guilt and the stress.
This lead me to wonder…how do you set apart hard work from obsession? Is it just ‘settling’ if you don’t reach perfection, or do you just keep working towards your goal, whatever that may be, until you get it right?
I think, as always, it seems, the only reasonable answer is….it’s different for everyone. Hard work is always a good thing, and always commendable. A good work ethic is to be admired and you should definitely have a good work ethic in all that you do. But it shouldn’t lead you down a dark path of stressing over perfection. It shouldn’t bring about negative feelings. Doing the work you love should energize you- not drain you.
There’s something to be said about messy action. I’m a total podcast-binger and I’ve picked up a theme across them all- take messy action. If you’re waiting in your business or at the gym for the moment where you feel like an expert, you’ve waited too long. I remember years ago when I would hide in the back room at the gym, trying to get better at certain exercises before I’d ever dare do them in front of anyone. But guess what? I could never receive feedback or help. When I finally did start venturing out into the main lifting area of the gym, I got both help from the other lifters, and I got praise for good form. Both of those gave me confidence, each in their own way. Don’t be afraid to show your imperfection. By accepting help on my form (I was doing good mornings with the barbell in the time that comes to mind), I was able to improve much sooner than if I was on my own with just my ego. When I received compliments, it gave me the confidence to keep pushing forward toward heavier weights and a stronger body.
Reflecting in my own life, I think there was a period that I went too far the opposite way. I’ve always been a hard worker, but there was a time – and I should point out that this was definitely a result of being completely burned out in another job I’d had – where I was so adamant about not being stressed from overdoing it, that I didn’t put in enough effort. I got complacent in far too many areas of my life, and that’s when I started getting very unhappy with myself and my self esteem. I didn’t feel the need to workout much because ‘I was happy with my body.’ I let myself eat foods I knew were bad because ‘I didn’t want to be too restrictive.’ I wasn’t as ambitious as I once was, because I wanted to be at peace and enjoy life more.
You see where I’m going with this? I’ve found that you CAN be ambitious AND at peace. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other. My mom gave me a book for Christmas and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough- its called ‘Live the Let Go Life’ by Joseph Prince. It talks about being in God’s peace because that’s part of His gift to us from when Jesus died on the cross for us. We’ve already been given that gift, but seldom do we recognize it and receive it.
I think another good point to think about is the fact that we have different seasons in our life. I’ve decided that daily balance is NOT real. You cannot have enough time each day with work, kids, chores, self care, workouts, reading, etc. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and sleep should consume at least 8 of them! So be okay with having different seasons in your life. There are some days where Grayson goes to preschool or my mom’s, and I can get sooooo much work done and it is absolute heaven. I feel so accomplished. Then other days, (like last week, his preschool is closed because of the 4th of July) he’s home from preschool or he’s sick and I can’t get anything done work-wise. Or we just decide to take off and go to the zoo or the pool and I don’t work any that day-all my time and energy goes towards him. Hey, that’s okay too! I used to feel guilty for not working enough- until I started feeling guilty for not spending enough time with this precious child that loves me and needs me. There may come a day when I take the whole summer off to play with kids. It’s just a season. I’m slowly learning to embrace this!
So here’s my conclusion: let’s leave the perfection to Jesus. Let’s be ambitious, but not to the point where we feel stressed and unhappy. Let’s work hard- in peace.