Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist?
I used to proudly proclaim my perfectionist-ism, until about a year ago. In April of 2014, I teamed up with an exceptional group of women to participate in a Design Your Life course which was sponsored by Amy Butler (who you may know is a talented fabric designer).
During this remarkable process, which ended up lasting a year and a half and was specifically geared for creative minds, I learned how to envision and map out 18 critical areas in my life and how to create dreams surrounding those areas that were designed to build my integrity and strengthen my most precious relationships. I highly recommend the program and would encourage you to take advantage of the weekend workshops Amy hosts with Handel Senior Life Coach Hildie Dunn.
Looking back, I would say it was a little more than midway through this coaching, when I finally realized or more aptly accepted the fact that perfection is actually unattainable.
Webster’s Dictionary defines perfectionism as
“the state or quality of being or becoming perfect”
“the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art”
“a perfect embodiment or example of something”
“a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence”
“the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait”
“the act or fact of perfecting”
I am certain there are a great many people who let perfection or the fear of not being perfect keep them from trying something new. And an equal amount of people who keep their joy and happiness at bay in anticipation of the day when they will attain perfection.
It was through this beautiful group work, and the many stories and life lessons each woman shared, that I came to realize neither perfection strategy is beneficial and a great deal of unnecessary dissatisfaction is rooted in our never ending quest for perfection.
When I was first learning to sew, I was absolutely awful. Seriously! My first projects were completely ridiculous and frustrating beyond measure. There was this one silly little phrase that kept me going: Practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect…it just kept running through my head.
And, so I continued my pursuit of perfection and I practiced, practiced and practiced!
You know what happened? I improved. A lot!
Today, I would be comfortable labeling myself an accomplished sewer. And, guess what? I still make lots of mistakes! And guess what else? I relish every single one. Thankfully, I am now wise enough to look at every “whoops” as a chance to learn. As an opportunity.
Most of the time, all I really needed to do was S-L-O-W down and enjoy the process.
My personal rule: It is far better to go slow, take your time, enjoy the project and know you put your best effort forth. Rather than rush, get discouraged and ultimately produce a product which you are not proud of.
On Tuesday afternoons I have the pleasure of teaching a small group of 7 to 10 year old girls how to quilt. Most of them have never used a sewing machine and I noticed when they sit down at the machine (for the first time) they always press the foot pedal down full speed. It is like they are preconditioned to believe faster is better.
Being the thoughtful sewing instructor that I am. I let them sew at full speed, tangle the bobbin in a hot mess and stitch totally crooked. And, after the machine seizes up, I calmly explain what happened and help them tear out their stitches and try again. It only takes that one experience for them to understand another one of my favorite quotes: “slow and steady wins the race”.
So, for those of you who have bought into the quest for perfection, I would like to propose a new motto:
For this week, let’s all make a promise to slow down and enjoy this perfectly imperfect adventure called life. Thanks for reading along and I will be back on Friday to share another fun sewing project with you.