Article by Lisa Rogoff
I used to be horrified by this picture. My son is wearing plastic bags instead of snow boots. His mittens don’t match (and are not sufficient for the 5 degree weather). And it was January and our pumpkin still adorned our front doorstep.
Today, however, I have a new perspective. I recall how hard we laughed when he walked outside and how much fun we had trying (unsuccessfully) to build a snowman. It took us 30 minutes to get ready to go outside, we lasted about 4, and then it was another 20 to change out of our wet, cold clothes. That doesn’t even account for all of the clean up from the snow and dirt we dragged into the house (probably because we never actually cleaned it up). But those 4 minutes were worth it. Every single second.
Embarrassed By Your Lack Of Perfection – Embrace It!
So often, we beat ourselves up over the small stuff. Our houses are a mess, we can’t remember to send a birthday card, we can’t seem to get anywhere on time anymore. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect that we lose out on the opportunities to live out our most precious and fleeting moments.
There was a time that I would go months without having friends over. I was too embarrassed by the state of our home to even consider extending an invitation. But my son’s pleas for friends to come play in his sandbox finally wore me in and I invited them over for a Friday after work.
Not only did they not judge me, they appreciated the mess knowing that the damage their kids imparted during our 1.5 hours together didn’t even put a dent into what was already in place. We all had a blast eating pizza off paper plates, chasing the kids off our crumb-infested couches, and letting them get messy with a random painting project. It was mayhem and it was wonderful.
Look At The Trade Offs…
It was the perfect reminder of the trade off I could have made. I could have traded a night of chaotic joy and laughter for one of perfection – or at least the perception of it. I could have decided that my house was not good enough for guests. I could have been ashamed of my inability to pull together a meal for my friends. I could have made any number of excuses to prevent the unfolding of an imperfect and joyful evening.
Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be…
In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” Brene Brown (hero!) writes:
“Perfectionism is self destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal.”
Cheers to that. And cheers to not missing out on the best of life.
So, this week I challenge you – whether you’re an exhausted parent or an overworked human being – to trade in perfection for joy. Let go of self-conscious and self-deprecating and welcome in imperfection and good old fashioned fun.
Do something you have been holding back on just because you know someone is judging you. Speak up in your meeting. Or don’t speak up in your meeting. Sign up for the dance class. Be yourself and embrace it.
Are You In?
Great. But I’m a coach, so I can’t let you off the hook that easy. We know this is easier said than done and that once you’re finished reading this post, you’ll head back into your life and the status quo. Let’s put in place three simple steps so you hold yourself accountable:
Write it down.
Where do you find yourself caring the most about what other people think? Be honest and dig a little deeper. Where are you really selling yourself short or holding back, and – this is this is the kicker – where does this matter most to you?
Write that down. Now. Like before you move on from this article.
Share this post with a friend or colleague and hold each other accountable for carrying this out. Remind one another why you’re doing this – what you give up when you are too tied to what other people think. Call each other out. Dare one another to do something that’s important and meaningful.
Don’t post anything to social media for one week.
Yes, one whole week. You’ll need your accountability partner on this one. There’s nothing wrong with social media – I am culprit #1 – but we often spend so much time crafting our experience to be shared with our ten thousand best friends and getting the perfect selfie, that we miss out on the experience itself.
A friend of mine shared this video of Simon Sinek discussing what technology and social media is doing to us, and it’s given me pause about how I conduct my life. I’m not going to kid myself and pretend that I’m giving up technology or – gasp! – Facebook, but I am bringing back the alarm clock (watch the video and you’ll understand!). Baby steps.
Bottom line: you do you. It ain’t easy, but it’s so worth it. You’re not perfect, and that’s ok. Let us know how it goes.