Give Me the Simple Life: Thoughts on Perfectionism

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This summer, as I complete a non-fiction book that is interview driven, filled with notes and a lengthy bibliography, I find myself constantly fretting over whether I have crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s. (By the way, have you ever looked at the back of a non-fiction book? All those details . . . just think of the time that poor author put into documentation.) And then there’s the writing itself. I can’t leave anything alone. It’s like I’m a nervous housekeeper, “plumping up the pillows.”

In my before-bedtime reading, I’ve come across some wonderful antidotes to the trials of perfectionism (and just to be clear . . . writing is the only area in my life in which I’m a perfectionist. Most things . . . I’m an 80% is good enough kind of gal). I thought you might find these quotes to be helpful, too.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.19.51 AMPerfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. It is not self-improvement.

Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. Heathy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievements. Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.

from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.22.36 AMI remind myself, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” (Cribbed from Voltaire.) A twenty-minute walk that I do is better than the four-mile run that I don’t do. The imperfect book that gets published is better than the perfect book that never leaves my computer. The dinner party of take-out Chinese food is better than the elegant dinner that I never host.”

from Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.23.44 AMMaybe I care less now than I did then about how I look to other people, or maybe I know from long experience that most people ignore our imperfections because they are concentrating upon theirs.

 

from Forward from Here by Reeve Lindbergh

And a thought to finish on . . .

We have to make the long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.”

from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? Has it been a good thing in your life or a hardship? (Or maybe . . . I should ask your family?!) What helps you to put this attention-to-detail trait into its proper perspective? Share your thoughts and you’ll be entered into a chance to win a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.


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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Renee says:

    I used to be more of a perfectionist, but then decided I wanted to enjoy my kids. The kids pitch in to help around the house, and while they may fold the laundry, make their beds, and vacuum differently than I do, they know I appreciate their help. Our house may not look like a model home all the time, but everyone helps out and everyone knows their effort is valued.

  2. Lori P says:

    No one puts more pressure on me than myself to be a perfectionist. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing whether it is school, parenting, marriage, writing or housework/decorating I have to set the standard very high. At times I find it exhausting, but other times it keeps me focused and determined. I don’t see it as ALL bad, but if it gets in the way of just living then I know I need to tone it down some.

  3. Lisa Cowell says:

    I need to do everything perfectly but usually fall short in many of them. It causes a lot of stress for me as I am not as efficient as I need to be.