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February 14, 2011

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This is so timely for me! My mantra of late has been "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I can't run 60 minutes a day, but perhaps I can squeeze in 15 or 30 minutes on the treadmill. That beats zero by a long shot. I can't practice the piano three hours a day, but 15 minutes a day adds up to a lot over the course of a year. My house is typically a disaster, but a clean corner or countertop is worth something.

That said, I have come to appreciate my inner critic. For awhile I bemoaned the fact that my critical eye caused me to focus on flaws, not the beauty of the overall product (music, art, what-have-you). However, when I hear or see (or even do myself) something truly sublime, I can appreciate it in a way that non-critics cannot. I know what near-perfection entails, and it brings me joy that one cannot experience if one doesn't have a full realization of what it took to achieve that performance or accomplishment. So, don't banish your inner critic entirely... :-)

This is such an important post for me right now. I feel like I am in the midst of a raging storm, standing on the shoreline beside the rising tide. Competing interests, contrasting loyalties. "Shoulds" and "musts" getting mixed together.

There is no way to do it all "right" when "right" is so far off on the horizon. I am often my own worst critic, and yet the lessons I am trying to teach my children are how to love themselves with (and for!) all their faults...and knowing in their hearts that being brave enough to swim amidst the waves is the marker of having already won.

Breathing now...this post reminds me of the importance of finding that constant ground in shifting sands.

I am writing my first book right now, and in my mind it has the potential to be absolutely fantastic. If I manage to pull it off the way it feels like it can be, I would be ecstatic. But it is my first book, and I am untrained as a writer. I have no degrees in anything remotely related to writing, and I wrestle with a lot of the aspects that go into it. So it might just end up being mediocre, but I'm trying to break it down into more manageable chunks in order to not get discouraged and give up. Because the story is trying to be born...and like a baby in utero, you just can't safely rush things along. They take the time they take, and the outcome is best if it's given what it needs in order to develop fully. I'm trying to remember that and keep plugging along. Thanks for the reminder, especially timely today!

Really great post! Love your analogy and the fact that you openly share with others. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll pass along my Louis XIV to my children, so I try to let good be good enough. for them.

You have made me feel better about my "good enoug is good enoug" attitude! My inner critic complains about it all the time.

Great post Jennifer. For me, I realized how constricting my perfectionism was after I started raising a family of my own. I haven't got over it, but generally don't allow it to get in the way of having peace and fun, overall. My mantra now is to leave perfection to the Gods and strive for excellence, which is more human.

Love this, Jen! I writing is, well, perfect! :) I always love your sharing your thought, and I love the Louis XIV is part of your family's vernacular!

As for my comment, I do feel like one of my biggest gifts in life is that i am NOT a perfectionist--which means that a lot of things I do aren't that great. Oh well, I just say to myself...

I love everything about this. The thing I love the most is that I could hear your actual speaking voice as I was reading it. It's such a great insight and I know reading it has helped so many people. (Present company excluded - I'm firmly entrenched with Margaret in the "Not a Perfectionist" camp.) *grin*

Such an important topic. I love how you used the Louis XIV analogy. I like to challenge perfectionism - asking questions like "Why is this important... Why must it be done like that... Who am I doing it for and why? Often it comes down to insecurity or pride. I used to run myself ragged chasing perfectionism and eventually broke down (physically, mentally, emotionally) because of the stress. It was a very good thing that happened. By necessity I had to change. Change how I did things. How I think. It took a lot of work and therapy but I can now say I'm fully converted to the good enough club, and I feel more happiness and inner peace than at any other time in my life.

Thanks for the insightful post.

Thank you, Jen and Whitney, for sharing this post. It is a tantalizing world we live in, and en even more tantalizing history we've inherited, filled with works of stunning beauty (built upon the backs of slavery and exploitation, but even so, oh la la! Talk about budget and manpower.). It's extremely humbling, galling even, to try to put anything forth in the world when you know you haven't (and perhaps can't) achieve the kind of perfection your soul adores. I keep this little quote next to my desk: "Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there but those that sang the best." From Henry Van Dyke. And for the record, I think you're just about perfect, so there.

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  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.

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