Perfection is something many of us absolutely love. We use different tools to plan, track, and organize our lives – whether it’s a calendar, smartwatch, or mobile app. When overused, despite their benefits, these tools can also drive our quest for perfection to overbearing heights.
Why you should lower your expectations of perfection
However much we think we’re in control, life has a funny way of taking charge on its own accord. When I was too attached to my tools and devices, and something didn’t go to plan, I would experience an unparalleled amount of stress.
This happened when I didn’t fulfil the tiniest of tasks. Whether it was filling out my calendar, charging my Fitbit, or logging my habits at the end of each day.
“Why can’t you ever do things right” would be the statement that would replay in my mind, over and over. I’d mentally beat myself up for not being perfect. There was so much desire for order in my life (and not enough freedom), that when things deviated from the way I expected them to, I invariably fell into a hole of disappointment. My desire for perfection was imprisoning me, rather than freeing me.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali
Life never goes 100% according to plan
With that, I started regularly thinking about how I’m cultivating the sense of freedom in my life; tweaking my philosophy of perfection as I eliminated some of the dead-weight in my life.
After all, if I wasn’t able to accept the little mishaps in life, how would I ever be able to be truly happy, or to be truly strong when I was seriously challenged? I kept reminding myself that life will never turn out exactly the way I want it to. And that my obsessive drive to control every facet of my life was hindering me, rather than helping me flourish. It was disheartening to accept at first, but gradually I made my peace with it.
Reminding myself of that, made me less emotional or irrational when imperfections arose. I started to dance with not having control all the time, choosing instead to co-create with life – as opposed to doing things all on my accord. If a friend cancelled on me last minute, it was okay. If I didn’t remember to update my App today, that was fine too.
I embraced the unexpected news, small failures, and “happy” surprises. I realized that not having things not go to plan all the time, was actually, important for my growth. What happened as a result was a radical simplification of my life.
Apps were deleted. Documents I was held accountable for were made to vanish. I returned my smartwatch. And a list of daily habits that I had become obligated to accomplishing, significantly whittled down in size.
Instilling habits that Let go of our need for perfection
We can put in place principles that help us move away from our Type-A mindset of achievement; of this relentless drive towards order and perfection – which also manifests itself on a macro scale in the world we live in.
We need to learn to balance our ADD compulsiveness, so that we can have more freedom, not just for our benefit – but the benefit of those around us.
Changing our philosophy towards perfection is the right step in the right direction, as is removing all the apps, tools, nooks and crannies that often just give us the illusion of making us more productive. But, we also benefit from actively participating in engendering play in our lives.
“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” – George Orwell
Maybe you can do this by not wearing your watch now and then, taking a day off of the computer once per week, or visiting a new town. Or perhaps you can plan a time in the week, where you regularly just draw for the sake of drawing.
When you balance the freedom and perfection in your life, you’ll experience more peace and emotional stability. Paradoxically, you’ll then be in a better position to experience a perfectly, imperfect life.