Blog: The Nature of Being Organized
Confessions Of A Perfectionist
"Progress not perfection". This was the quote on the coffee mug that was given to me by a colleague many years ago. It changed my life—almost…
Once a perfectionist always a perfectionist? It's a hard habit to break away from because it has so many rewards—all that recognition, accomplishment, pride, self esteem, value, kudos, and neatness! Yes, but there are as many negatives as there are positives—all the pressure to perform, expectations, stress, lost time, procrastination, frustration, and sleepless nights!
I lived the life of a perfectionist for many years until I realized that it was actually making me very unhappy. It caused a great deal of anger and frustration with family, friends, and co-workers, not to mention myself. My expectations were far above what anyone could achieve. I couldn't meet them! I didn't realize the impact it was having on me until a supervisor pointed it out. What a shock! I wondered how I had come that far without knowing about perfectionism. The first book I read on the subject was "Perfect Daughters" by Robert Ackerman. I thought the author must have interviewed me without my knowing it because it was the story of my life. I felt a sense of relief after reading it.
Changing this lifelong pattern was no easy task. Perfectionism kept me in control of my life. How could I possibly give it up? I remember the first suggestion I got—leave the dirty dishes in the sink. What!!?? I'm not sure what I thought would happen, but I tried it anyway. The earth didn't shake, the neat police didn't break down the door, and other than feeling very uncomfortable initially my life went on pretty much as usual. So I began to slowly incorporate these changes into other areas of my home and life.
I've come a long way since my first experiment with leaving the dishes in the sink. Occasionally I still leave them in the sink and leave the bed unmade and leave the coffee table and my desk piled with stuff. I have found the middle ground between perfectionism and chaos. My perfectionism doesn't manage me any longer. (Although I'll admit it does creep in every so often, but at least I know what it is!) Now I've found a way to be in control of my life that's actually productive and compassionate. I'm not the angry person I used to be, but instead I've traded it all in for patience, acceptance, gratitude, and peace. There's freedom in being whoever I choose to be in the moment.
I chose progress, not perfection. What I learned was that one small change becomes a huge amount of progress. Making a simple adjustment, making one small effort, and opening to change added up to the rich, rewarding life I have today. Just like turning the pages in a book. So as you begin to shift your awareness to find more happiness in your life remember—progress, not perfection, will bring you the happiness you desire.
Wishing you much happiness!
posted on: 2/21/2008 12:00:00 PM by Maggie McCauley
category: The Mental Side
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The Nature of Being Organized
by Maggie McCauley
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Maggie McCauley, ACC, LICSW, The Effortless Organizing Coach, is the president of "A New View". She takes a holistic approach to organizing coaching her clients to create new habits that promote overall well-being, a sense of freedom and peace of mind.
My Favorite Books
- The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
- It's Hard To Make A Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul
- Organize With Confidence by Elizabeth Hagen
- The Secret Of Letting Go by Guy Finley
- Life Is Short--Wear Your Party Pants by Loretta La Roche
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin
- Loving What Is by Byron Katie
- Making A Change For Good by Cheri Huber
- "Happiness Now!" by Robert Holden, PhD.