Letting Go of Perfect

With the ringing in of the New Year, many of us start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Morning talk shows and magazines recycle the same resolution ideas and segments of years past, just subbing in one diet fad for another. We hear about the classic resolutions – lose weight, exercise more, save money etc. But while resolutions are well-intentioned, most people lose momentum by the end of January, and end up feeling even worse about the situation than they did in the first place!

So what if I told you to throw those resolutions out the window, and make the resolution to NOT have a resolution at all!? Now I’m not suggesting that instead of dieting you sit on the couch and eat bon-bons all year, or blow your budget. Rather, I’m suggesting that you give yourself a break and try to let go of the rat race for perfection.

Learning to let go of perfection is HARD, nowadays more than ever as social media gives us glimpses into other people’s seemingly perfect lives. It’s dangerous when we compare our behind the scenes, every day life – the messy, ugly stuff – to other people’s highlight reels. Now we are all guilty of this, and I contribute to it as much as the next person. I post photos of me on fun trips, where I look happy and put together, and don’t post photos of my average day, where I’m frazzled with work, make up-free, and in my usual attire — ratty gym clothes. Women – and I’d say mommies even more so— feel like they constantly need to do more, give more, be more.

So when I was asked to write this month about “letting go of perfection,” I giggled at the irony because I am hardly a role model in this area. But it forced me to think hard about the little progress I’ve made towards letting go. My friend and I were recently joking that there is so much we should be doing, it’s exhausting. For example, I should be using essential oils, and running more, and whitening my teeth,  and taking vitamins, and drinking apple cider vinegar, and eating more whole food, and meditating, and doing more yoga… the list goes on and on! I’ve gone through phases where I try to do all of these in an attempt to be healthier, prettier, skinnier, [_____]-er, and ended up falling short and stressing out over it as a result. But I have come to realize I can’t do it all, and I don’t need to either.

When we always feel like we need to be more than we are now, it creates a feeling of resentment and unhappiness. We get so caught up in the dream of what more is or could be that we don’t take time to recognize, enjoy and appreciate what we are now. You think – if only I was thinner, if only I had a little more money, if only I had a better job, I’d be happy. But the trouble is there is no such thing as perfect, and the more “perfect” you become, the more your idea of perfection continues to change. It’s a frustratingly moving target. Once you’re thinner/richer/better employed than before, you’ll just want something else! Believe me!

Making an effort to let go of perfection can help you lead a more present and thankful life. Again, having goals and dreams is a wonderful thing, but only if they are healthy and attainable, and only if you will cut yourself slack when life’s inevitable detours keep you from hitting some of these goals.  So this year, strive for progress, not perfection. It might be time to forget the resolutions, and just resolve to be more accepting and understanding of who you are now, because you’re pretty awesome.

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