We’re always asked about perfection. What would our perfect day/partner/job/date/whatever be? We’re told to live each day as if it were our last. We’re told to reach for the stars. We’re told to picture our ideal life. Sometimes we’re even told we’ll be able to manifest it into existence. (Strange how my bank balance is still missing a few extra numbers, then.)
Then we’re told perfection doesn’t exist. We’re told to stop daydreaming and just keep our heads down, keep working, keep plugging away. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. Keep our expectations low to avoid disappointment. If we want more for ourselves and our family, we’re greedy; we should just be happy with our lot in life. Or, as parents the world over say to their kids, “You’ll take what you get and you’ll like it.”
So what can we do to ensure we don’t end up frustrated and frazzled and just burying our heads in the sand? If we can’t ever have the “perfect” day, what’s the point in even trying or planning? What should we aim for if perfection doesn’t exist?
The answer is: greatness.
You can’t be perfect, but you can be pretty damn great all the same. How? By building a bit of flexibility into your days and attitude.
Forget about imagining what your “perfect” day would look like and just imagine what a great day would be. Maybe a great day for you would be getting into and out of work on time. Maybe it would involve an hour at the gym, or maybe it’s more an hour of crossword puzzles. (If it’s the latter, you’re more my kind of people.)
For me, a great day involves getting ANYTHING done. With a toddler, I find it difficult to achieve much throughout the day and, by the end of it, I’m usually too tired and mentally drained to even consider doing something productive.
And honestly, I don’t even know what “perfect” would look like. There are so many things I want to see and do, there’s no way I’d be able to pack them all into one day. Nor would I want to, because running around trying to get eleventy billion things done, no matter how amazing or awesome, is not my idea of a good time. Instead, I aim for one thing.
So a great day for me is getting a pile of clothes washed, dried, and put away. It’s writing the outline for a blog post, or mopping the kitchen floor. It’s cooking a hot dinner for myself instead of resorting to ready-meals and take-aways. And some days it’s just making it to the stroke of midnight without stabbing anybody. (Priorities, peeps. I haz dem.)
It’s OK to visualise perfection — it gives you something to work towards — as long as you realise that it’s unattainable in its entirety. Parts of your day may well be perfect, but things will invariably go wrong, or not go as planned. Sometimes it’s for the best, and sometimes you just have to start again the following morning (that’s the great thing about life — each day is a brand new start). Some days a long lie-in will be perfection, and other days getting up at the crack of dawn to watch the sun rise and get some stuff done before the rest of the world wakes will be perfection.
The point is that if you keep wishing for perfect days, you’re going to find yourself constantly frustrated and feeling like a failure. But ticking 9 of the 10 items off your ‘to do’ list isn’t failing. Sometimes just one tick is all you need to take you from groundhog day to great day.
It won’t always be pretty, and it won’t always be productive, but damned if you don’t deserve a pat on the back all the same. When you can go to bed knowing you achieved something, no matter how small, and that the rest of the time you managed to roll with the punches, that’s a pretty great day.
There is no “perfect” — there’s only the best you can make of each moment.
(And not stabbing someone is a great start.)