What would happen if imperfection were the goal rather than the thing to be avoided?
Perfectionism comes at a cost, and far too often, the cost is self-sabotage. Imperfection, on the other hand, can help us move toward goals in a celebratory fashion. We can actually have fun along the way!
Can you relate to this little story, below?
A former client of mine whom I’ll call Caron was paralyzed by perfectionism. She was enrolled in school at the time, and she would work at a frenzied pace and then sabotage herself. Caron would do one very mortifying thing: She would write a paper, complete it, and then in a fit of anxiety, she would delete the paper and start all over again.
Have you ever done anything similar to that?
Remember Sisyphus – the king from Greek mythology who was punished by being made to roll a huge boulder up a hill every single day, only to watch it roll back down at the end of the day? Caron was a modern day Sisyphus, and the boulders in her life were the overwhelming piles of work she would produce and then let go.
After a lot of suffering, Caron decided to let go of this daily boulder-rolling activity of hers by experimenting with imperfection. She visualized the following: a) letting the boulder roll downhill one last time so it could crush all memories of those who had helped put her into this state of mind, and b) embracing imperfection as if it were a long lost friend.
Caron then found a magnificent place where she could allow her imperfections to grow like wildflowers – her garden. Caron’s garden was bursting with color and life. She felt she could be herself there! She loved digging in the rich soil and planting things. She loved caring for her garden – tilling the soil, planting, watering, and weeding. She nurtured this garden and breathed the fresh air around it. The garden could transport her into a mental state of calm, which she then carried back into her office.
When working on papers she wanted desperately to delete, she would breathe in the rich and vivid memory of her garden, and refuse to sabotage herself. She learned to celebrate imperfection! I am happy to report that Caron no longer deletes her papers as soon as they are completed. Caron has come to realize that imperfection can be a sign of integrity and creativity. She also sees imperfection as a conduit to progress. The last I heard, she added the Sisyphean boulder to her visualization. It had transformed from a threatening obstacle into a big, decorative rock at the edge of her garden, to represent a destructive habit that she had joyfully let go.
What about you? Are there any boulders you are repeatedly rolling uphill, only to let them roll down at the end of your workday? I urge you to experiment with the idea of imperfection. You may find that imperfection shrinks fear down to a manageable size, which in turn leaves room for creativity and productivity to take flight. Let’s all follow Caron’s lead and cultivate our own imperfect gardens. It’ll be glorious!
What choice will you make today — Imperfection or Sisyphean boulder rolling?
Sift Through the Noise.
Make a Plan.