I’m a goal-setter. Idea slinger. Persistent achiever.
Those last two don’t always mix well. My brain and heart are filled with concepts and plans to keep me busy for eternity. Thankfully, God has also given me a capacity to juggle several projects and responsibilities at once. (He’s also gifted me with a husband who cooks, kids who do their own laundry, and a family with a high tolerance for a messy house. Score!)
However, I’m also a perfectionist.
And Perfect Katie is always lingering around the corner, ready to show me all the places that are not quite right. The hyper-critical gaze of Perfect Katie can paralyze me from moving forward. Perfect Katie’s constant pressure makes me want to throw up my hands and give up. Perfect Katie often keeps me from setting out to begin with.
Perfectionism stymies me from making progress toward my goals
Take these blog posts, for instance. My goal was to write 40 posts in 40 days. If you’re counting at home, you’ll recognize that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a post—and Perfect Katie’s been berating me about it. Life hit, I chose people over tasks, and the goal to write everyday was missed. And she wants me to quit, take down all the posts, and any evidence that a goal was unsuccessfully attempted. (Although, I did compromise with her, and change the challenge to 40 posts for 40 years, instead of in 40 days.)
But what Perfect Katie forgets is that perfection was not the end goal. The purpose of this self-imposed challenge was to get back to placing meaningful words on this screen, to begin using the writing muscles that have been given an intentional rest, and to have a reason for writing whatever was on my heart for that day. And I’ve loved it!
The temptation to just stop trying is strong, but when I take a step back and look at what has already been accomplished, I can see that the goal, in many ways, has already been met. And 11 posts that otherwise would not have been have made it into the archives.
Perfectionism keeps me from pursuing my dreams
I love to learn, and I love God’s Word. I’ve said for years and years that I’d love to go to seminary one day. But I’ve realized that Perfect Katie has allowed me to define “one day” as the unattainable season where my kids don’t need me, our church is on autopilot, I’ve finally figured out how to keep our household running without hiccups, and …
It hit me this summer that the perfect time to go back to school is never going to arrive. Life is always going to be busy, and I don’t have to take the suggested load to complete it quickly. I can take classes in my own timing and plan. So, I began the application process about a month ago, and yesterday I received my acceptance! It may take me 10 years to complete, but slowly and surely, I will pursue this dream.
Perfectionism stunts my growth
When I teach the Too Busy for Bible Study? FOCUSed15 training course, I share about this struggle of perfectionism with my “quiet times.” I’ve traveled all over the nation and spoken to thousands of women, most of who I see nodding their heads at and fervently jotting down in their journals this reality: We must let go of the lie, “If I can’t do it right, than I shouldn’t do it at all.”
Because 5 minutes of reading one Bible verse is better than none read at all. A half-read reading plan is progress made that wouldn’t have been made if the plan had not been attempted. Instead of hyper-focusing on what we haven’t done or aren’t doing, we need to deliberately look for and celebrate what we have accomplished and how we have grown.
There are a bazillion other examples and areas of our lives that we allow perfectionism to take over and rule us. And where we do, we stop growing. Perfectionism actually keeps our imperfections from being brought to light and changed. Perfectionism whispers the lies that we don’t need God’s help. We can do this on our own. We can keep things under control.
So, today in the pursuit of growth and goals and intimacy with God, I’m telling Perfect Katie to take a hike.