Letting Go of Perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist? Being a perfectionist helps us do a good job. On the surface there is nothing wrong with aiming for perfect. However, sometimes the idea of perfectionism is often like a rock wall  in our path.  It can keep us from enjoying life, or indulging in an activity that brings us pleasure.

rock wall up close


The wall may look both insurmountable, in impenetrable, stopping us in our tracks, keeping us from moving forward. However there is another option. We can forget being going over or through the stumbling block of perfectionism, and continue along beside it, allowing for mistakes and ordinary.

road cut through the rock

Following along the path of the obstacle will often lead us to a different destination. Which doesn’t mean bad, just different.

I belong to several quilting groups and quilters seem to be divided into two fractions when it comes to perfectionism, either a quilter makes a “perfect” quilt top or she doesn’t. Those who insist on a mistake free quilt top take seams out repeatedly until they get the block “perfect.” This seems to work for them,

Then there is my group. Those of us who stitch it as close to  correct as possible, but if a seam doesn’t exactly match, or a point is cut off we don’t obsess. Neither faction is more right than the other, we just have different ways of looking at the quilt and the quilting process.

Sometimes members from either group will cross the line over to the other side for a quilt, or block.

Several years ago I taught a quilting class and one of the students insisted on her stitching being “perfect.” This created quite a challenge for her as she had never sewn before. Not she had never made a quilt, but she had never sewn at all. Anything. Not only had she never sewn, she wanted to make “The Hungry Caterpillar quilt.”

image via red rooster quilts.com


Finally one day, while sewing at home, she decided to leave her mistake to show me why it must be removed. Except, when she came to class, she couldn’t find the mistake. She decided then, unless a mistake was horrific and noticeable the next day it stayed. When she finished the top none of us could find the errors she’d opted to leave in, and we looked. She had a quilt top she loved, and a new hobby she could enjoy. She didn’t entirely leave perfectionism at the door, but she limited how much it could affect her sewing.

Sometimes perfectionism attacks us at work. To be fair, we do need to do a good job, but, if we step back we might find a way to not only make our jobs easier, but remove some of the “perfectionism” stress.

In the “old days”when we all used typewriters (remember those?), secretaries struggled to type  mistake-free papers for their bosses.

Bette Nesmith Graham developed a product that became known as Liquid Paper.  She shared her path to perfectionism with other women in the office. Her invention helped her, and other women climb the rocky wall of perfect typing, until she tumbled off again. She made a mistake the invention could not fix and her boss fired her.

Now, she had to follow the new path. Which she did, creating a multi-million dollar business and paying it forward by setting up two foundations to help women find new ways to earn a living Bette Nesmith Graham made not being perfect work for her.

Where is being perfect slowing you down? At work? At home? At play?

Give yourself the gift of not being perfect for one day. Give yourself the gift of ordinary, or permission to make a mistake or two.

Come back and leave a comment. Let me know if not being perfect for one day made you feel better, less stressed.

Are you a perfectionist?

is there any area of your life where you are comfortable being not perfect?

Are you a closet perfectionist? (closets and cabinets are neat, and perfectly arranged, the rest of your life is cluttered and messy)

Joining in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Also this month, took the challenge to blog on one theme all month-long. This month the theme is “Be Nice to You.”

About Nita

Quilter, writer, speaker, mom and grandmom. I enjoy making quilts for my grandkids, and other children. I especially love hearing and sharing quilt stories with others, that's how the book came about and this blog will continue to share quilt stories and how God works with quilts to comfort and teach us.
This entry was posted in 31 Days, Ultimate Blog Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Letting Go of Perfectionism

  1. Perfectionism pushes us forward, but can harm relationships. Wise advice.

  2. I have type A, perfectionist personality and it plagues me daily! I seriously get stuck in the weeds on many tasks because I ask so many questions and evaluate all the angles. Only one thing has seemed to help me so far… having kids ha! I am noticing that I let go more with my kids around because worrying and perfecting everything takes from our fun. I still like to model how to do things right but if they do something differently than I would do I let it go and say thank you. Thanks for taking on a big topic and sharing. 🙂

    Kassy @ Purposeful Productions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s