I posted this article originally several years ago and I think it’s time to see it again. Some of us think we have to be the re-enactment of Mary Poppins who “was practically perfect in every way.” (If you haven’t seen that movie, it’s worth the time and trip to the video store. If you have children, that’s even better because it’s fun and funny). But let’s get real. Whoever said we have to reach perfection in the first place? Nobody. The media and social media tell us we should act a certain way and look like a runway model or a super-jock. Peer pressure is often much stronger than personal likes and beliefs and we need to consider that in our quest for self-improvement.
CAUTION: Perfectionism is not the same as doing or being your best. This blog is about self-improvement not about getting all bent out of shape because you don’t meet some standard of perfection that exists only in your mind or someone else’s mind on your behalf.
A Video That Says It Well
I am rerunning this article for two reasons: 1) because I can and 3) because I received a video that talks about how self-development will stop our success! At first, I bristled a bit, but I watched the video with a somewhat open mind and guess what? I agree with him to a great extent and encourage you to watch the video below and then read on.
Like and accept your self “as is”
It is my belief that real self-improvement starts from the foundation of liking and accepting who you are. RIGHT NOW. Warts and all. It means self-love—enough love for you to get past the I’m too thin, too fat, too old, too young, too inept, too uneducated, too afraid, too timid—too whatever—and finding new and better ways of doing things that bring you greater joy. This may include finding ways to earn more money, a college degree, learning to dance, paint, or use the computer—anything your heart says would increase your joy and satisfaction. (Just because the Rolling Stones don’t get no satisfaction doesn’t mean you can’t).
So when did you stop liking who you are? Think about it and when you hit on something it’s o.k. to simply let that belief go. When you were a child did the proverbial Aunt Mabel say to your mom, “She isn’t as pretty as her sister,” or “He’ll never be the athlete his brother is.” Ouch. That hurt. And you probably believed it and carried it with you all these years. Or a teacher told you were slow, or no good in math, or that you’d never make it if . . . You may have had a failure along the way that made you think your success was out of reach. Excuse the expression, but that’s all crap and you can make your own decisions about how you look, how you act and what you want to do and be.
How perfect do you have to be?
Let me start by saying this, “Perfection” is a standard set arbitrarily for you by someone who is not you and this kind of perfection cannot be achieved.
Who has the measuring stick for perfection? I certainly don’t have one for you. I threw mine away a long time ago. I decided I wanted to be happy rather than perfect. So now if my shoes don’t match my outfit, my hair gets all windblown just before I get where I’m going, or I say something stupid, I’m still o.k. I have learned that failure is a stepping stone to something better and not a roadblock. Difficulties became easier to navigate once I learned to ask myself the question, “What can I learn from this? How can I do it different or better?”
So, on this quest for self-improvement, lighten up. If you can’t enjoy it, don’t do it.
Oh, don’t get literal on me. Sometimes the joy isn’t there during some of the rough spots of learning and changing. But keep your eyes on the prize because the end result may be magnificent and joyful. G.K Chesterton made a comment that I paraphrase: Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.
What about you? Are you ready to fly like angels and Mary Poppins? Then lighten up. You’ll never get off the ground if you are weighed down by the heavy burden of perfection. You do NOT need to be practically perfect in every way.