Be perfectly imperfect


I think that it’s safe to say we all want to excel in whatever we do. In other words, we all strive for perfection even when we know it may be technically unattainable. Striving for perfection can be a positive force since it allows us to set stretch goals and push ourselves to higher levels of achievement in whatever we pursue. It can also be a negative force when it keeps us from completing or even beginning a task.

Believe me, I can relate to the latter negative effects. I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. So much so that I will probably tweak this post countless times before I actually hit the publish button. My perfectionist tendencies, at times, have proven beneficial to both my personal and professional life. But, there are so many other times that they have done the opposite. Projects too many to number remain unfinished strewn around the house. Creative ideas are left to simmer on the back-burner of my mind not yet started because I know they probably won’t come off “perfectly”.

How many of us have made resolutions on New Year’s Day? How many of us have held true to those resolutions for the entire calendar year? Or even the first month? Sometimes resolutions fail due to a lack of commitment, but more often than not my resolutions fall by the wayside because my desire for perfection gets in the way. This is certainly no way to live your life passionately.

The point is that each of us needs to realize just how much we can accomplish by simply doing our best. We can create so many amazing things while being imperfect. I know better than anyone that saying something like this and acting in accordance with it are two completely different animals. I am constantly working on taming my perfectionist mind so that second animal is more manageable. How do I do this? Funny you should ask …

I have realized that certain hobbies have allowed me to strive for perfection and cultivate excellence without obsessing over it.

preparing foodI love to cook. Hold on, don’t change the channel yet. I know that a large number of you may consider boiling water for pasta either a challenge or a chore, maybe both. Even if you don’t know the difference between julienne and minced, you can still be the prized chef of your kitchen. No one can deny that we need food to survive. If we need to eat, why not enjoy preparing the food that we need? It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. Maybe you have a recipe in the family that you’ve always wanted to try or maybe you have a favorite dish that you’ve always wanted to see if you could improve. Hey, what’s the worst that can happen? You can always order out (been there, done that). You know what one of the coolest things about cooking is … it is one of the few activities that I can think of where you get to use all five of your senses. It provides a very visceral experience and it’s also a perfect opportunity to try a new chardonnay with your next meal.

But what does this have to do with alleviating obsessive perfectionism? Perfectionists tend to want to tweak things when they are finished. They want to look at them from every different angle and find the most minute detail that can be altered to make it that much better or to meet their expectations. When you finish cooking a meal, all you want to do is eat. It is an elemental need. And once you have eaten, it’s pretty difficult to tweak your creation 🙂 But, you can always try something new the next time.

The bottom line is that we all need to make an imperfect commitment. We can all be perfectly imperfect. We won’t always stick to our resolutions, desires, or promises. But, if we keep putting one foot in front of the other and enjoy the journey along the way, we are going to create some great “things”. More importantly, however, we are going to create some even greater experiences which is really what makes our lives meaningful.

Always remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderfull.


8 thoughts on “Be perfectly imperfect

  1. Jennifer May 8, 2013 / 1:30 pm

    so incredibly true! I have the worst time painting my knobs sometimes – I will tweak them and tweak them and while they might look great to an outsider, to me, I might catch the silliest imperfection…geez, it totally runs in the whole family 🙂 I have to constantly remind myself to just let it go

    • davecenker May 8, 2013 / 5:25 pm

      The fact that you have your artistic talents spread all over the world (literally) brings a smile to my face. You cannot deny that you have brought so much joy to people because of your work (don’t deny it, I have both seen and heard the comments :-)). If you step back every so often and look at exactly what you have accomplished, I hope you will be amazed and proud as I am.

  2. Marquita Herald May 8, 2013 / 3:45 pm

    Well said! I am a recovering perfectionist so this article and your insight really hit home with me. I know I missed a lot of opportunities early in my life because I kept trying to achieve some mythical standard I’d set for myself. The wake-up call for me was publishing my first book. I got stuck in perpetual rewrites trying to make it as perfect as possible – finally I realized I needed to publish that puppy or give up a life-long dream. 5 Books later I’m happy to say it does get easier over time, but in a way I hope I never lose it entirely because I always want to strive to do my best. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • davecenker May 8, 2013 / 5:30 pm

      It’s success stories like yours that keeps some of us other recovering perfectionists from abandoning all hope. I think I have always wanted to write “something” too (thus, the blog) and maybe this is the first step towards something bigger. And I couldn’t agree more that we never want to completely lose our desire for perfection. We just need to keep it at a balanced level in our lives. It’s fun to write, but it’s even more fun to share and discuss it with others! Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. Abby May 10, 2013 / 7:54 am

    I really like the concept of ‘perfectly imperfect’. I’ve thought about it before in relation to people. If you stop to think about it that while everyone has imperfections, they are still perfect just the way they are. If you think about someone you love, while you can recognise their flaws, they wouldn’t be them without them. If they were suddenly made ‘perfect’, they would no longer be that same person that you love. Maybe the same idea can be applied to the things we do – maybe it is the imperfections that makes them what they are, gives them character and uniqueness. I really like this quote too and again, perhaps a similar idea can be applied to our creations or the other things we do. I had not thought about the concept of ‘perfectly imperfect’ in relation to perfectionism before, so thank you for bringing the concept to a different level. Very interesting 🙂

    • davecenker May 10, 2013 / 12:53 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments Abby (and the link to the great quote from Steve Maraboli)! I absolutely love your insights about the people we love. We love the whole person, imperfections and all. Without them, they wouldn’t be the person that they are. If everyone and everything was “perfect”, there wouldn’t be nearly as many interesting things to learn, create, and uncover about the people and places around us. Imperfection, in a sense, is what makes life so interesting. I am happy that I was able to provide some interesting and imperfect insight to your day 😉

  4. thowling June 27, 2013 / 8:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing and being honest about the effects of being a perfectionist in your activities. I used to be one, but I have had to let go of a big part of it because at some point life gave me no other choice. 🙂
    What would life be like without imperfections? Then we would have nothing to compare with perfect things! And yes, we are all perfectly imperfect. And that does not make life less wonderful.

    • davecenker June 28, 2013 / 8:28 am

      Thank you very much for your comments. It’s what makes writing a blog so enjoyable, to share your thoughts and experiences with others. Wishing you a perfectly imperfect day with many memorable experiences 😉

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