I've been called a perfectionist much of my life. Attempting to achieve perfection meant I often wouldn't try new things or finish things I started; in case they were not perfect! Despite these fairly major drawbacks, at times I have worn the perfectionist label with pride, but not anymore. Now it's all about 'good enough'.
I have come to realise that we sometimes need to lower our own expectations about what we can realistically achieve. It's not about not about giving up on a goal or compromising a vision, but reconsidering how much you can expect from yourself.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
And perfect, and our concern to be perfect, or do things perfectly, can stop us from doing anything at all. We are frozen by the fear that what we do may not be perfect. Then we do nothing, just spin in ever tighter circles of perfecting. Or, we finesse constantly, never feeling the task or job is complete because it's not quite perfect. This is not a fun way to live your life.
It's not a question of capability, it's a question of time management and use of energy. We all can probably pull off something amazing and 'perfect' if we devote every waking minute to it. But realistically, as mother's who has the time or the energy for that!?
By lowering your self-expectations, you give yourself permission to say good enough is okay.
Good enough can apply for many tasks and chores that busy mums are expected to complete in their week. Here are some areas where it's okay to be good enough, and not perfect. These are based on areas that cause most stress for many women, including myself. I'm giving you permission to aim for 'good enough'...
- Housekeeping: clean enough is okay. The idea that we should eat off the floor is a dated 1980s advert concept! Basic hygiene is fine. Tidy helps - we feel better if the space feels tidy, even if it's not 'perfectly' clean. Plus, a few little stray germs will help build immunity, right?
- Entertaining /Socialising: takeaway or pizzas for dinner, or a packet of biscuits for afternoon tea is fine - the intention is to catch up with your friends not wow them with your cooking prowess!
- Feeding your family: No need to slave all day and create a five or even three course dinner! On occasion a 'packet' meal will suffice. You know what I mean - a packet of pasta, with a jar of pre-made sauce is not going to kill anyone, even if you eat it every week. Shortcuts are absolutely fine and necessary!
- Parenting: what is perfect parenting? I doubt there is a single agreed definition! Good parenting can be just as valuable and more fun for everyone. Being good enough means you give yourself permission to do your best for your children and yourself, without agonising over every little detail.
- Exercise: You don't have to run a marathon, you don't even need to walk 10,000 steps. Just get a little more incidental exercise and do the best you can. That's all anyone can ask for and is all you should ask of yourself.
Just a note on exercise - please don't write yourself off. Sometimes as working mums just getting some exercise is enough! You needn't push yourself in the process by lifting the heavier weights, running further and so on. By lowering the bar, and easing up on your own expectations of self, including letting yourself have an easier day sometimes, you're more likely to repeat the activity, and create a habit where you continue to exercise regularly.
Lowering the bar and allowing yourself to just do a good enough job and not a perfect one, means you free up energy and time to have more fun and enjoy your life. It also means less stress! Win-win!
Just think what you could do with the time and energy you gain by allowing yourself to operate at 'good enough' rather than perfect! You may just find good enough is your preferred way to live...
If this post has resonated with you, I recommend you download my free Ebook, "6 Days to a Life Filled with more Joy, Hope and Love" to help you have more days experiencing joy, hope and love. Just enter your email address on the right hand side of the screen to receive an instant download.