It's good to have goals and standards for yourself, but sometimes they can get a bit out of hand. When the idea of "perfection" is constantly looming overhead, it can become difficult to find ways to give yourself a break, especially when things don't go according to your plan.
Even though we all strive for it, perfection is not something that anyone can ever achieve. That's probably because the only place perfection exists is in the movies, on TV shows, and for fictional characters like the Stepford wives. And what's creepier than them?
My point is that being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it's actually more enjoyable to be around people who aren't perfect. According to Brené Brown for CNN.com, "...the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect."
And yet this can still be hard to believe, especially when you're used to beating yourself up if something doesn't go right, or if you aren't on point 100 percent of the time. So, if you are having a hard time cutting yourself some slack, then check out these tips below, because it’s perfectly OK to not be perfect.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
A photo pops up on your Instagram feed of the most perfect living room you've ever seen, prompting you to wonder why the heck you aren't more on your decorating game. You then go on an hour-long Pinterest binge, pinning photos of your ideal home, all while feeling pretty bad about your current digs.
It's true that it's easier today than ever before to compare ourselves to others. Social media offers a constant parade of other people's successes, beautiful homes, and vacation photos. It can be all too easy to slide down jealous's slippery slope, but keep in mind that you are only seeing small glimpses into someone's life. According to Emily Holland at lifestyle site Tiny Buddha, “The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media. The arrival of a new baby and a recent trip to the Caribbean are both ideal picture-posting occasions. But do these same people post photos of 2 a.m. feedings or lost luggage? Not often, because that wouldn’t show them in an ideal light, but it would provide a sense of reality.” The lesson is to take everything with a grain of salt, and remember that even though someone's life may look perfect online, they're probably just as human as you.
2. Lower Your Expectations
Creating impossible standards for yourself, whether it be in school or at work or wherever, is essentially setting yourself up for failure and eventual disappointment. If your expectations are too high, you are bound to be disappointed. Think of the last time you took a test when you thought you failed, but ended up with a B. You were elated, because you weren't expecting to do much better.
This phenomenon was put to the test during a recent study at the University College London. The study showed that happiness is, in fact, linked to lower expectations. According to Keith Wolf at Today, “researchers found that it didn't matter so much whether things were going well. It mattered whether they were going better than expected.” This is something to remember the next time you are trying something new, or have over-the-moon hopes for something. Don't be pessimistic or negative, but walk somewhere in the middle and you'll end up much happier with the final result.
3. Keep A Gratitude List
We all have a running to-do list in our heads, full of chores and goals and things we think absolutely must happen in order for us to be happy. It can be exhausting, to say the least.
While it's great to dream about the future, it's also important to take stock of the things you've already accomplished, as well as things that are going well in your life right now. Take some time each night to jot down a few things you're grateful for. Then be sure to appreciate each thing, instead of doing it all for the sake of getting it done. According to Tree Franklin, at the Huffington Post, "Shifting our perspective to a more feeling-oriented goal infuses our list — and more importantly, us — with vibrant joy, lighthearted playfulness and a deep appreciation for everything we have."
4. Realize It's All OK
It's important to keep some perspective when it comes to our expectations for ourselves. If you are beating yourself up for all the things you haven't done, forgot to do, or didn't do perfectly, then take a moment and give yourself time to see the bigger picture.
Sure, it would be great if everything went perfectly all the time, but that's not reality. The reality is you miss the bus, or forget your friend's birthday, or mess up at work. And that's OK. If you give yourself permission to mess up, then you're less likely to beat yourself up whenever something goes wrong.
5. Put Yourself First
The funny thing about pursuing perfection is that we are rarely doing it for ourselves. We may want to please our boss, or impress our parents, and it's important we recognize that. Because at the end of the day, the only person we really have to please is ourselves. Remind yourself of that the next time you feel like you aren't good enough.
Perfection is a goal that will always be just out of our grasp, and that's totally cool. Give yourself a break, and realize that you are awesome just as you are.
Images: Giphy (5); Pixabay (1)