My MacBook recently turned three. My husband tells me this is basically ancient in laptop years, but this little machine is still going strong and chugging along. But recently, the power cord was looking a little sad; it had admittedly seen better days. Where the cord meets the battery pack, the wires had started to split and fray. One afternoon, I grabbed some washi tape and wrapped it up. That seemed to do the trick…for awhile, anyway, until Evan and I decided we had a better solution. (Have you heard of Sugru? I need this stuff in bulk.)
When I tried to remove the washi tape, all the wires began to rip. We tried plugging the cord into my laptop, but it would only charge intermittently, and whether it was working or not, it began to heat up so intensely that it hurt to touch.
Because Evan and I are very observant and intelligent people, we decided it was probably time to retire that power cord, lest we blow up my laptop or electrocute one of our children.
As we waited for a new power cord to come in the mail, I watched the battery bar on my desktop creep down toward 0%. And for a few days, while I waited for Prime Shipping to come through, I left my laptop–totally dead and useless–under an armchair in our living room.
I learned two things in the meantime.
First of all, sometimes, a “better” solution is actually not helpful. That washi tape was working just fine, but we let our pursuit of better and best mess with what was already good.
This is certainly true when I evaluate my to-do list at the end of most days. Regardless of how much has been accomplished, I always wish for more and better: cleaner counters, one more load of laundry, another chapter in my book. I wonder if I also do this in my parenting, my marriage, and my calling.
Recently, I had a guest post published on Coffee + Crumbs. I submitted the post back in the spring and learned it was accepted in May, but it wasn’t until last week that the post was actually published. And can I just tell you how badly I wanted to go back and change that post? I wanted to tweak and edit, to reword and revise. But I had to let it go. As writers or creatives, we can’t edit into perpetuity. At some point, we have to declare, “Good enough,” and move on. The same is true of our schedules, our parenting, our homes.
When I am obsessed with being better, I fail to be grateful for the good.
The second thing is this: When I’m obsessing over productivity, multi-tasking, and to-do lists, I’m probably battling perfectionism.
When my battery died, I was forced to stop immediately responding to every red notification icon. I relinquished my need for productivity. I stopped multi-tasking (so much). At first, I felt anxious, but eventually, I felt free.
So, when you find yourself so obsessed with “better” that you are unable to appreciate the good in your life, or when you find that your inner perfectionist has returned to worship at the altar of accomplishment, consider letting your batteries die.
“The biggest deception of our digital age may be the lie that says we can be omni-competent, omni-informed, and omni-present. We cannot be any of these things. We must choose our absence, our inability, and our ignorance–and choose wisely. The sooner we embrace this finitude, the sooner we can be free.” –Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy
All month long, I’m sharing 31 ways to fight perfectionism, as part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can find all my posts in this series here (or by clicking the “31 Days” button at the top of this page). Tomorrow, I’ll share how I got the story of Jonah and the whale all wrong.