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Debbie Gisonni Headshot

Perfection is Overrated. Be Happy Instead

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When I was younger, I wanted the perfect nose -- one of those small, indistinctive noses that blends into the background of the model's face on a magazine cover. My Italian genetics, however, gave me another type of nose: a little long, a little bumpy, not terribly unpleasant, but definitely ethnic. I've thought about changing it many times, particularly when I started appearing on TV. (We all know the camera adds five pounds, and noses are no exception.) I've resisted the temptation partly because my nose is an integral part of who I am that I don't want to lose, and partly because there's a rebel inside of me who hates to conform to what society says is perfect.

Women in particular seem to be conditioned to spend their entire lives chasing someone else's definition of perfection. The perfect face without wrinkles or prominent features. A body without one dimple of cellulite! Have you ever met any woman without cellulite? The perfect entertaining skills, where you gather the twigs and leaves you'll be gluing together for the table centerpiece prior to preparing a dinner from scratch for 12. Doesn't everyone own a glue gun? The perfect partner who treats you like a queen, loves your mother and never leaves his dirty socks on the floor. This may all be possible if you were living in a 1950's sitcom, but none of it resembles real life -- nor did it in the 1950's!

And for all you women who think you can really have it all... forget that notion! Something has to give a little, whether it's your career, your spouse, your kids or your free time. And that's okay, depending on where your priorities are. The term "work-life balance" is meaningless and non-existent. Work and life aren't separated but rather one integrated journey, and how you spend your time on that journey changes relative to what's going on in your life at that particular time. There's no magic pill or formula that works for everyone.

Perfection is like a carrot on the end of a stick mounted to your head. You keep thinking you can grab it if you run hard enough, and sometimes you can get a little taste of it, but it's never quite enough. You'll always want the whole thing, and even if you get that, right around the corner is another carrot waiting to be chased. You'll grow old and angry chasing perfection. Wouldn't you rather spend time playing with your kids instead of mopping the kitchen floor? Wouldn't you rather look unique instead of like a mannequin? Wouldn't you rather be happy instead of perfect? I know I would -- because when you're happy, everything is perfect, even a long nose.

Here are twelve ways to stop chasing perfection:

  1. Redefine reality from what you see in the media to what you see in real life. What do the people around you look like?
  2. Love your unique traits; they make you interesting to others.
  3. Be grateful for everything you are and everything you have at this moment.
  4. If you're doing something for someone else's approval, let it go. You can't live your life by other people's standards.
  5. Adjust your own expectations of yourself and others (especially your children) based on individual abilities and needs.
  6. Stop the recording in your head about anything parents or teachers criticized about you. Hit the reset button for the present time, and recognize all of your wonderful traits.
  7. Keep a happy thoughts journal, and write down whatever makes you happy each day.
  8. Invite guests for dinner even if your house isn't spotless. They'll never notice.
  9. Be present with people instead of perfect by showing your own vulnerability.
  10. Slow down and let others catch up. You don't always need to be first.
  11. Buy clothes that fit your personality, your body and your style, not what's "in" or what everyone else is wearing.
  12. Learn to meditate and connect with your inner spirit, who is always perfect.

This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones, entitled 'The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.