#31: A benediction for the recovering perfectionist

A benediction for all of us who are tired of constantly striving for better, who want to feel content and at peace with our days and our lives, who recognize the ill-fitting yoke of perfectionism for the heavy burden it is: 

May we learn to recognize the myriad ways perfectionism can manifest itself in our lives, and may we boldly and bravely say “no more.” May we say “no more” to people-pleasing, to endless self-help, and to defining our worth based on the content and completion of our to-do lists.

May we be willing to show up exactly as we are: as beginners, as rough drafts, as unfinished and messy, without make-up or masks. May we approach our days with a clear sense of purpose and never let comparison derail us.

May we never hesitate to make a mistake, to learn something new, and to accept help from all who offer. May we accept compliments and apologize only when necessary. May our humility be genuine, our words truthful, and our risk-taking courageous.

May we fight perfectionism not with our white knuckles, not with our degrees or our credentials, and not with our lists and resolutions. Instead, may we fight with freedom, grace, and joy.

And above all, may we do all of this because we remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, dearly beloved sons and daughters of Jesus.

This is the final post in my Write 31 Days series, 31 Ways to Fight Perfectionism. You can find links to all the posts in this series here, or by clicking the “31 Days” button at the top of the page. Thanks for reading this month!

#30: 9 easy and practical ways to fight perfectionism

Well, we’re a solid week into November, but we are finally approaching the end of this series! Because perfectionism is a such a pervasive thing in my life, I’ve seen it show up in both the practical and the intangible. I sense it as a theme in almost everything I read or watch. But in addition to stories and big-picture truths, there are also some small and super practical things that help me fight perfectionism. So, it’s time for a list!

9 Super Practical Ways to Fight Perfectionism:

  1. Adult coloring books. I know this is very trendy right now, but I find it to be a great way to battle perfectionism and striving. First of all, it helps me release my tight grip on productivity, because coloring doesn’t serve much purpose besides relaxation. Secondly, it really forces my mind to slow down when it’s racing with one million anxious thoughts. And finally, I choose the most detailed coloring books I can possibly find. They force me to not worry if I don’t have the precise color I think I need, and the small details practically force you to color outside the lines a bit.
  2. Choose a word of the year. If you are anything like me, New Year’s resolutions can turn into a giant list of all the things you “should” do. (I talked about this a tiny bit in this post.) My resolutions always tended to be things that didn’t bring me joy and forced me to strive. Instead of resolutions, I now choose a word of the year. My word is open-ended, so I can apply it however I want, whenever I want. (As opposed to, say, “exercise,” which either happens or doesn’t on any given day.) The intangibility of a word to focus on helps me ignore my tendency towards success and failure. (For my ideas on how to make your word of the year more meaningful, check out my post here!)
  3. Get off social media. Seriously. When I find myself consumed with comparison, struggling with a pesky fear of missing out, or just a bit scatterbrained or anxious, taking a social media break (even for just the afternoon) is immensely helpful.
  4. Make a playlist. When I can’t seem to get off the hamster wheel, there are some songs that just help me relax. There are songs that remind me of my identity in Christ, and there are songs that make me feel light and free. I keep a playlist of those songs handy for those days when perfectionism threatens to overwhelm. (Not to mention, nothing embodies the opposite of “put together” and “productive” than a silly dance party with a toddler.)
  5. Finish an unfinished project. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, it’s hard to dismiss the massive list of to-dos and should-dos that is constantly running through my head. And occasionally, the fastest way to help me feel like I’ve got a better grip on things is to identify ONE unfinished task or project and just get it over with. It helps to have fewer things looming in the back of my mind.
  6. Hold your coffee cup with both hands. I think that we perfectionists can be especially prone to the allure of multitasking and the siren call of productivity. But you know what? If you hold your coffee mug with both hands while you drink it, it’s really hard to get anything else accomplished. It’s what I do when I need to stop, slow down, and take a deep breath.
  7. Read a book. I’m sure you’re shocked to hear this coming from me. 😉 But there are several books that have been immensely helpful in my pursuit of freedom. I’ve made a little Amazon list of some of those titles here.
  8. Recite a mantra. I have a few phrases and mantras that I repeat to myself whenever necessary.

Done is better than perfect.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Present over perfect.

It is for freedom that I am set free.

Make peace with being a beginner.

Mistakes are proof that you’re trying.

Perfectionism isn’t a fruit of the spirit.

9. Subscribe to The Drafting Desk. Rebekah and I are committed to sending you a once-a-month dose of “me too.” We’ll share honest stories about how perfectionism is manifesting in our lives and how Jesus is teaching us a better way. We’d love to have you join our little tribe! You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for smaller bits of encouragement throughout the month.

There you have it! I’d love to know which of these you try or are helpful to you, and I’d love to know what other tricks you keep up your sleeve.

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up this series with some final thoughts and a benediction.