It’s funny and in some ways strange that when you look up the definition of the word perfection you get: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects, with a list of synonyms like improvement, betterment, refinement, refining, and honing.

But when you look up the word perfectionism you get a definition that says: refusal to accept any standard short of perfection; purist, stickler for perfection, idealist, faultfinding, bickering, quibbling, pettiness.

Perfection seems like a place of reason, something to hold you to a higher standard perhaps, but when you read the words perfectionism everything seems so negative, so unforgiving.

How can two words so closely related be so seemingly dissonant?

Truth be told, perfection is a state, more aptly associated with a finished product.

There could be no more perfect diamond, or object of affection.  And maybe when associated to an object description, it creates a certain sense that it has been delivered out of true monumental effort, perhaps even the effort of mother nature herself.

Perfectionism strikes from a place of judgment.

How do I see someone else’s effort or state, or how perhaps do they see mine?

The answer to that question is that there is no answer.

Are you perfect in comparison to what, to who, or to when?

The line is always moving, there is always something better or worse if you look at things from a mindset of perfectionism, there is no point of arrival.  You never can get to the summit of this mountain it’s an impossible possibility.

And there in lies the problem with perfectionism, there is no end game, it becomes a circular, constant, unyielding game of one-up-man-ship that has you spinning like a top, unable to see the forest for the trees.  It is all encompassing, overwhelming, even suffocating.

So what then is a healthier way of being?

How about we focus the process of growth?

How about instead of focusing on trying to be perfect, reaching the unattainable summit, we allow ourselves to be imperfect?

How about we celebrate imperfection?

Imperfection is actually a reality of beauty.

The photographer Alex John Beck did an interesting experiment where he took the composite images of two left sides of someone’s face and two right sides of someone’s face and created new images of the person.  Interestingly enough each image looked quite different.

You see even the most beautiful people we might know or revere actually have many interesting imperfections and asymmetries that emphasize their beauty and uniqueness.

Uniqueness, recognizing our differences and celebrating them is what makes life so much more interesting than sameness.

One of the raison d’etre’s for piercings, tattoos, fashion, un-fashion, hair appointments, etc., is that they allow us to create our identity and to differentiate us from the heard.

The irony in this approach is that most of these attempts to differentiate become trends, then we end of being part of the heard again (the relentless search for perfection!)

So instead of tying so hard to be perfect, or trying so hard to be different, why don’t we just allow ourselves to embrace imperfection?

How you might say?

Focus on the Process

First thing you want to do is start aligning your attention with the process of growth rather than the constant eye on the goal.

Setting hard and fast goals like I want to lose 20lbs in 12 weeks, or I want to get that job this year, or I want to make a million dollars in five years from now creates a very harsh point of arrival, and if you suddenly feel at any point in the journey towards the goal that you aren’t going to get there, well, you give up!

Your internal dialogue starts beating you up about how hard its going to be, how you are a failure for not being so much closer to it already, how its just too much for you, how you’re just not as good as the next guy who’s getting there!

Instead, if you simply focus on the process of daily self-improvement towards an intention, then the process becomes the focus. Doing the daily habit forming work that is required to fulfill the intention helps you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment, and this fuels your fire instead of extinguishing it!

What is the difference between and intention and a goal you might say?

Intentions are things that align with your spirit more than hard statements.

I want to feel more comfortable in my clothes, I want to live with greater abundance, I want to feel good about standing in front of people when I am speaking to a crowd, I want to make a true connection with someone who will cherish me.

Now you can establish some daily habits or personal development work you need to engage in consistently in order to achieve that intention.

An example would be: I want to feel better in my clothes.

1 – Each day I need to work towards getting 7-8 hours of sleep

2 – Each day I need to work towards drinking 1-2 liters of water

3 – Each day I need to reduce my intake of processed foods and increase my intake of quality vegetables, fruits, meat, and whole grains

Now I have a list of things I can work towards, and I can monitor my progress.  I don’t have to be perfect, I just need to be more aware of my choices, see my failures as learning opportunities, and work to be a little better each day.

Process not perfection!

Count Your Wins Every Day

At the end of each day, no matter how good or bad the day, just count a few wins from the day you just had.  These are especially powerful if you align them with some of your intentions.

I drank 2 liters of water today

I ate four servings of organic vegetables today

I slept of seven and a half hours last night

Maybe you did eat a candy bar in the afternoon when you were tired, but you still did some good things and you celebrate them!  This creates a positive mindset shift as you go to bed, and allows you to rise the next day with a positive mindset towards your next day.

Even if you only did one thing you feel good about, count it and celebrate it!

Over time this will grow, as long as you are consistent!  Consistency is the key.

Your focus needs to be on doing the small things every day that build the big things, not get focused on the big things and upset you aren’t getting there!

Celebrate Your Differences

Make a list of all the things that are unique about you.  What makes you, you?

Even if they aren’t classically things society evaluates as appreciable, what are all your personal bits and pieces.

Now take a moment to revel in your imperfections. Those imperfections are what makes you interesting to others believe it or not. Now make a habit of reveling in them daily.

You are unique we are all unique; that is what makes this world so interesting.

That is what makes YOU interesting.

Focus on process not perfection.

Count your wins.

Celebrate your differences.

Embrace your imperfection!