Lightning Real Talk #5: Perfection Paralysis

Photo by:  Karen Santos , Hair and Makeup by:  Lindsay Dabalos

Photo by: Karen Santos, Hair and Makeup by: Lindsay Dabalos

Lightning Real Talk: True stories from my life that have inspired the work I do today. 

I have to admit that before today, my house was a complete mess for a month. Unmade beds. Unfolded laundry. Refrigerator full of left overs. Paperwork everywhere. You get the idea.

As each day passed, I felt more and more angry at myself. The guilt was eating away at me, as tumbleweeds of dust bunnies rolled by. I was waiting for the perfect weather. The perfect amount of energy to start an epic cleaning project. I wanted it to be done in one day, also...because I thrive when there’s a deadline. But, that wasn't a reasonable goal for myself.

I was suffering from Perfection Paralysis. I had set the bar so high in my mind, that starting any of it was too overwhelming. But, in this state of paralysis I was missing out on some serious moments for gratitude:

I am grateful I have a place to live.

I am grateful that I am so busy, there isn’t time for cleaning.

I am grateful for FOOD in my fridge and RUNNING WATER.

The emotional effort I spent on the desire for perfection could have actually been used to clean my house…funny how that works, huh?

If you don't start something, you won't finish. You're probably not going to excel all the time. You might be meeting your income goals for the month, but your sink is full of dishes. You may be enjoying social gatherings and brand new friendships, but your romantic partnership suffers. You may be picking up kids on time and making bag lunches, but you haven't washed your hair in a week. We only have two hands. And, the guilt we carry, right in the middle of our gut, weighs us down, and does not contribute to the cause.

Perfection is not warm and friendly. It's sterile. Dry. And, can also be boring. I can guarantee that the most successful people you can think of have house cleaners. And, personal assistants. And who says that’s perfection? I get serious gratification from cleaning my own bathroom…Especially when it has been dirty and bothering me for weeks.

I can only do one thing at a time. The dishes will get cleaned eventually. But, this moment of creativity and fire fades fast, so I want to catch it.

If I get too wrapped up in perfect, I'll never get anything done. I'll slump on my couch, waiting for someone to tell me I'm enough. And you know, that might not ever happen. So, I'm not going to wait.

If keeping your house clean and slaying your personal life is what makes you happy, then do it. If you can balance your responsibilities, and still manage to have clean underwear all the time, then do it. But don't be afraid to let the little things slip to accommodate for bigger, expansive, and important things. I can guarantee, that no one will mention how clean your house was when you are long gone. They will talk about the energy you brought to a room. The way you smiled. And, how amazing you were as a person.

Clean dishes and toilets are a bonus in life. The perfection, the real fruit, is in experience, love, growth, and healing.  And, I don't know about you, but those all sound like messy, complicated, worthwhile, and beautiful things to focus on.

No one ever climbed a mountain standing still. Start moving slowly in the direction of your goals, and you will meet them. Movement is a key ingredient. Today is the “perfect” day to get started.