My daughter loves to post this photo around the holiday every year as her profile picture on Facebook. That's me. This isn't staged. I'm not drunk. I just used to be intoxicated on perfection. It's a great reminder of what happens when that is your goal during the holidays.
I spent many years living in the shadow of the perfect woman. When we put energy into being what we're not, we often lose precious people and moments along the way. Moments we can never get back -- and sometimes relationships that can't be mended.
These deeply-held beliefs and faulty assumptions prevent us from putting ourselves out there and taking risks, strategies that happy people rely on to succeed. They also prevent us from having those tough conversations, whether with ourselves or with important people in our lives.
I'm sure I'd still be searching for fulfillment if I didn't receive a wake-up call on September 30, 2004. I was 26 when I was wheeled into the ER and a nurse asked if I knew what was happening. "I think I had a stroke," I muttered. "Ma'am, you are HAVING a stroke."
Do you dwell on small mistakes for hours, days, or even weeks after they occur? Are you crushed when someone points out a small flaw in your work? Have you ever spent four hours fine-tuning a task that could have been completed in 10 minutes?
Repeating the affirmation "progress, not perfection" will help you to create an attitudinal shift that will better equip you to accept your own limitations as well as those of your family members, friends, and coworkers.
This idea of perfection -- no flaws, no issues, no problems -- seems to infiltrate all our lives at one time or another. And like the yearning for perfection in the workplace, we also yearn for perfection in other aspects of our lives.
I was a straight-A student through college who did whatever it took to produce work at a level that would please my professors. The rules changed when I started my own business over seven years ago. I realized that doing A-work in everything limited my success.
At work, I get emails from wonderful, incredible, women and mothers who feel isolated, anxious and depressed. They feel under-appreciated and live with an invisible wall of pressure to be the perfect woman, mother and wife.
January is not the problem. It's us. Well, our perfectionism, to be specific. Our all-or-none thinking frames our life so that if we're not succeeding every second, we're failing. Nobody wants that. But nobody can be that "perfect" person either.
I believe that perfection is actually an illusion that we created and is based on the fear that we would no longer evolve as humans if something wasn't pushing us to be better. But what if evolution were to come from our desire to learn and grow instead of to get ahead?
The main challenge with perfection is that perfection almost always lies just out of reach, sort of the impossible dream that can't be had. Indeed, perfection cannot be had, at least now how you might typically think about it; however, it can be experienced.