I did it it! I survived the Holiday season.
Does anyone else feel like come January 1st they deserve a medal for the shear number of tasks juggled leading up to and through the Christmas holiday? In all seriousness - things at work are already extra busy and finding time to be a loving wife and caring mother is a challenge. Balancing our daily lives while navigating the shopping, the baking, the kids concerts, the parties and don’t forget the decorating is not for the faint-of-heart.
Every year I’m reminded of the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute I’m peering deeply into the wide eyes of my children believing that anything is possible, knowing that there is good in the world, peace on earth and goodwill toward men. The next minute I’m drowning in a wave of sheer panic as I realize I haven’t yet purchased gifts for the bus driver, the mail lady, candy for the stockings, there’s wrapping to do, baking that isn’t going to happen, and a house to tidy before the guests arrive!
The pressure is emmense.
Those of you who know me or heard me speak at the Next Monday Women of Influence Summit, know that I am a recovering perfectionist. And let’s just be clear – being a perfectionist only adds to the pressure and stress during the holiday season.
You should know I love to peel and perfectly position each stamp in the upper right corner of the envelope for my holiday cards. (OCD—I know!) When it came time to drop this year’s cards in the mail - I smugly walked to the mailbox and smiled as I placed them carefully inside thinking of the joy each card would bring as we send our love to family and friends.
Less than one hour later, my gut wrenched as I realized that I had perfectly positioned each stamp in the WRONG corner! In my former life, I would have cried and ran to the mailbox to remove and replace every single stamp. But I stopped myself. I remembered that Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I was determined to enjoy every moment. So I laughed at myself and threw my hands into the air. Even though this was just a small holiday set-back, I’ve been working to become less of a perfectionist and this was progress.
The last 6 months has given me a new persepective perfectionism. I used to see being a perfectionist as necessary means to get things done - the only ‘right’ way of doing things. But now I am trying to be kinder to myself and others on a jouney toward ‘healthy striving’— a term coined by author and speaker Brene Brown.
Perfection comes in many forms; the pressures we put upon ourselves (self-oriented), upon others (other-oriented) and those that society places upon us (socially perscribed). I had to be honest with myself and seek out the origins of where my unrealistic expectations came from. Ignorance was no longer bliss, it was self-sabatoging. Some of my behaviors were brought on by past situations of reward, or punishment, modeling (things I saw) and information I received which told me--good or bad--how to behave. I learned that these behaviors spiraled into recognizable character flaws that if not remedied would lead (if they hadn’t already) to negative outcomes in my life, business and relationships.
Things like overcompensating, failure to delegate, avoidance, correcting others, not knowing when to quit and even things like procrastination are behaviors of a perfectionist. Maybe you identify with one or more of these behaviors? So many people approached me after the Women of Influence Summit acknowledging they never identified as a perfectionsit until they learned about these negative behaviors and realized that we can all display these traits at various levels of intensity and times in our lives.
Healthy striving means that I can look at each situation and measure whether or not the goal is “how can I improve,” versus “how will others see/judge/view me.” It’s about enjoying the journey, bouncing back quickly after setbacks, and setting standards that are high but within reach.
Releasing myself from perfection isn’t about lowering my standards or settling for less, it’s about enjoying the journey and seeing my mistakes as an opportunity to grow. Each day I work to be mindful of how my past has shaped me and balance it with the vision I have for my future. I must release myself, pour grace upon grace for the situations and surroundings that are beyond my control and live life the way that it was intended—with joy and gratefulness.
Another holiday season has come and gone, leaving a trail of wrapping paper and memories but a new year brings a new schedule filled with goals, ambitions and more activities. I hope this year you are able to intentionally reduce the stress and pressure you put on yourself and your loved ones and enjoy the possibility of the imperfect!