Progress matters more than perfection

Today I am scatterbrained.  I’ve worked on adding a little here and there to some writings I am working on, but I can’t seem to focus on and complete any one piece.  I have to remind myself at times that completion or perfection is not the end go.  The process is what matters.

Yesterday I was cleaning my house with one of my housemates, Raichu.  I was explaining how hard it is for me to clean at times.  I get very focused on everything being perfect.  I was sweeping the floor of the living room and talking about how frustrating it was for me that I had the spoons to sweep, and even then to do a bunch more cleaning tasks afterwards, but did not have the spoons to move all the furniture when sweeping, so it felt like I was doing nothing because I was not in my mind doing the job completely.  They said “It’s okay, moving everything can be a few times a year thing, our house does not need to be perfect and a lived in house in more cozy anyway.  You can do just a little bit of something and even if it doesn’t look done or perfect, it is cleaner then it was when you started.”

Well damn.  I’ve heard this all before, I’ve said this all before, but it still made a bit of tightness in my chest go away and made me breath a small sigh of relief to hear them say it.  I’m not sure why my brain clings to the idea that only perfection is good enough.  Not true perfection, but that feeling of done-ness when I know I’ve done the best I absolutely can, and I don’t see any imperfections left in my cleaning job that I could conceivably fix in a reasonable amount of time.  The problem is, that idea of -having done the best I can- is based on me on my best days.  I’m not often having my best days.  I’m a well put together hot mess, and focus, motivation, energy, these are all often a huge struggle for me.

I finished sweeping the living room without moving anything.  The floor still looked dirty to me, I didn’t have the spoons to mop and the living room is the dogs’ room, so there are dirty paw prints on the floor and dog fur sticking out from under the dog crates that I couldn’t get without moving them.  It is not just far from perfect, but it may be far from most people’s basic definition of clean.  I think about how the room with a couch, a well organized bookshelf, a somewhat organized cabinet, the two dog crates, a large floor rug, a dog bed in the corner, and a few toys and water dishes, is so much less cluttered and so much more clean than it was four or five years prior.  Five years ago when I began de-cluttering and re-claiming my life from a constant alcohol induced stupor, the living room I have now would have looked fantastic to me on it’s dirtiest days.  When I began that journey of self improvement and sunk much of that into improving my environment as well, I also became hard on myself in demanding perfection. Because if I let myself slide with personal perfection I ended up a shitty person, so I demanded perfection from my environment as well or else I was just -not good enough-.

The people in my life are teaching me to let go of that.  I got up a good pile of dog fur and dirt and cat litter with my sweeping to dump in the bin.  I also wiped down counters and the table, took up the clutter sitting around the kitchen and dining room, washed and folded three loads of laundry, cleaned the toilet, sink, and tub, and helped change a light bulb that has been out since a couple months after we moved in (so about six years).  Nothing I did was quite up to my standards, but all of it was good.  And at some point I have to accept that, that means I did good, and I can be proud of myself.

One thought on “Progress matters more than perfection

  1. What’s the quote…”Don’t let the great/perfect be the enemy of the good.” This is why I have a tendency to clean things 90% of the way instead of 100%, much to your frequent annoyance when we lived together. 😛
    I’m glad you’re coming to accept this perspective more. It really does make life far less stressful. It’s something that’s helped me with my perfectionist tendencies as well.

    Like

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