Did that get your attention? Well it got mine… I was in the check out line at the grocery and those words called to me from the front of the October Issue of O – the Oprah Magazine. Of course I need advice – who doesn’t. OK, truth be told, I was skeptical so I purchased it to see just what was the big deal. And I will admit – there were some items in there that I believe we really should all think long and hard about. And who is this woman, Martha Beck? What a goddess, how wise, and amazingly pragmatic.
There are three items I took from the issue that I think are incredibly important to all of us. And it really doesn’t matter if you are a mother or not – if you are human these apply. Today, we’ll just talk about one.
The first one I want to share (as written in O) is from Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize – winning columnist and author.
“Perfection is the enemy of getting things done.”
Say it out loud. Does it make you worry that someone might hear you and point a finger back and say “I told you so!”. Maybe it’s yourself standing in the mirror talking back. C’mon, admit it, we all talk to ourselves in the mirror once in a while. But we need to give ourselves a break. For many of us, we went from high school to college and then off the big bad world to make our marks. We eventually found good jobs and then put 150% of ourselves into them to get to where we are. And we made our homes, our perfectly decorated, always clean, never cluttered homes. Or may it was an amazing wardrobe, or 15 hour work days, or the perfect hostess, or the one always in the office first distributing information that you were absorbing while everyone else seemed to sleep the day away…. whatever it was for you prior to parent hood, I suspect you have tried your hardest to hold on to it. How could we not – for many of us we spent our 20s and most of our 30s being this person. How do you just let it go overnight?
I found it absolutely impossible, and I suspect I am not alone. But what we forget is that the things that we have come to be good at, our signatures, are now ingrained in us. We have practiced them for 10-15 years before our little bundles of joy showed up. And from the outside, we are still perfection where it is important to us. It is the inside that causes the anxiety that results in lost sleep,lost confidence, snapping at our spouse and children, or worries us that speaking up in a meeting unprepared could warrant falling down the ladder that has taken so much of our life to to climb. We aren’t unprepared, we have practiced and practiced for years. Don’t ever forget that. And today, with higher level jobs, more staff or less as the case may be, homework to review, planes to catch, babies to feed in the middle of the night, music lessons, swim team, baby-sitters to manage, doctors appointments… just typing it all can exhaust me…how can we expect to get anything done if we need it to be done perfectly. And don’t expect anyone else to do it perfectly – you’ll simply be disappointed and up goes the anxiety meter again.
Pick your battles – we’ve all heard this said to us at work time and time again. At 43, I have learned to pick my battles at work – but not for the reasons I suspect I have been given this advice over and over again, but I simply no longer have the time to pick them all and put the effort behind what it takes to win. I no longer have the ability to work till 11 pm at night and be back in the office at 6 am.
So pick your battles with your internal expectations. You can’t expect perfection in everything you do any more. In fact, there’s no longer enough time in the day for us to expect perfection in most of what we do, nothing would ever get done. What is it about your person – the one you use to know before your family and career collided – that you absolutely can’t not live without. Those things that make you want to jump out of your skin if they are not done your way? It’s OK, we have earned the right to say “my way”. Don’t be shy.
Put them in a hierarchy of importance to you – and by importance, I mean the more it ruins your day when not done your way, the higher on the list it should go. And I truly mean it ruins your day, not your bosses, not your kids, not your husbands/partners – this is about you.
And what ever is on the top of that list, if you can’t hire it out, then make time for it – if it is who you are, then it deserves your time or your money. I have an amazing friend, Kanessa, who I will describe as a Weeble – remember those, ‘Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’, this woman is one of the most focused and strongest people I have ever met. She has been clear since our mid 20’s, “Sonia, we have time and money for what we want to have time and money for”. And she is right.
Keep going down the list – knowing you can’t possibly do it all – find other ways to do it until you get to the ones that just make you a little mad and let go. And letting go is hard… you can find plenty of evidence of letting go in my basement… the fabric for the curtains that will never be, the dust on the exercise equipment, the antique frames that will most likely never hold a painting, the Fall and Easter decorations that might see day light every other year if they’re lucky, the cabinets that have the mixed matched sizes waiting to be returned to IKEA… and that’s just one corner of the basement.
But as I sit here writing this, I can hear happy voices getting ready for bed, they are trying to strategize on how to best get mom and dad to let them have a slumber party on a school night. And my kitchen is clean. I won’t look at my work Blackberry till morning. Stress free Sunday nights and a clean kitchen – these are high on my list.
This week – share with us what’s on your list, what do you insist on doing yourself, how do you find alternatives for others? What have you given up? Or what do you need help with?
Cheers to a wonderful week!