Perfection is never an option

I am not a perfectionist. At all. If I was I wouldn’t leave my clothes on the floor. Or wait until the last minute to write papers. Or eat McDonald’s every day.

I am the queen of Good Enough.

Even when I started The Shred, my standard of good enough shone through. I made Mark take “before” pics (can you have before without an after? wouldn’t this just be an “is” pic?) of me in my bathing suit so that I would be motivated to change. Except that when I saw the “before” pic I was all “Dude, check this out, I’m hot.” Sure, I have love handles and bulges and cankles, but other than that? Shoot, I am ready for the cover of Maxim in my opinion.

Perfection just isn’t in my vocabulary.

For most of my life I’ve wished I was a perfectionist. Because perfectionists care. Perfectionists make sure the words are straight on poster board presentations. Perfectionists take showers. Daily.

And then last week I realized something. I put together a premarital education workshop that was FAR from perfect. It was thrown together. Lots of great information, sure. But it didn’t flow the way I wanted it to. I didn’t have all the handouts I wish I had. The setting wasn’t exactly how I want it to be. But it served its purpose and couples are, hopefully, going to be a little bit better prepared for marriage.

I’m learning that my inability to care about perfection may just be the luxury that so few people have, especially perfectionists. I have the luxury of falling forward. I’ve given myself complete permission to be average, so-so, decent in exchange for the promise of always making each workshop better than the last. Going ahead and getting something out there means that I have something to work with.

So for as long as I’m trying to build this thing I call the Nashville Marriage Studio, I’m going to count my lack of perfectionism as a strength. Now, if I decide to become a tattoo artist that’s a whole other story…

UPDATE: Ok. So it’s come to my attention that I didn’t make some important things clear.

First, I was not unprepared for this workshop. I’ve been sitting on tons of great information for months simply waiting to get motivated to share it with my tiny portion of the world. There is no doubt that I know what I am talking about and that I shared it in an easy to digest way.

Second, here are some specific ways that I intend to improve the workshop. I originally wrote the handouts the way I like handouts which is pretty bare and I get to write in the information that is important to me. I do not like it when handouts have everything the speaker is going to say printed on them because it feels like you’re just reading on. Some people, however, like having all this information to take home and read over later. I plan on respecting that learning style more and preparing a “handbook” of sorts to go WITH the workshop that can be read later.

I am also planning to lay the workshop out in a way that creates the sense that couple’s questions are getting answered. I felt that I presented tons of information without taking the time to think “What question is this information answering?” I plan on going through the information next time in more of a “question answer” format.

The setting was FAR from what I wanted. The company I work for has allowed me to use office space for counseling sessions and workshops. It isn’t the most attractive place and not what I have in my imagination for where I want future workshops to be held. But nothing beats free. In the future I would love to host this workshop at a hotel or one of the small coffee shops in Nashville. Unfortunately, these are not possibilities right now.

These are the areas that I believe the workshop could be improved. Not necessarily in the presentation or the information provided. I am sorry that I did not make that clear.

Third, I only received extremely positive feedback afterwards. And nearly everyone asked when the next one was so that they could tell their such-and-such about it. If anything, I think my fun, entertaining, pop culture oriented (Jon and Kate’s drama helped immensely to bring everyone to the same page on what I was taking about avoiding), and young approach to these counseling topics make it immensely more likely that these couples will be open to future counseling because they realize that therapists do not have to be old fuddy-duddy sticks in the mud.

Oh and this is the post that “inspired” me to write this post.Ā

13 thoughts on “Perfection is never an option

  1. bhline says:

    In all honesty I would not take a workshop with someone that states they are unprepared. It seems you lack respect for people’s time and trust in you.

    It’s one thing to not be a perfectionist when it comes to your life, it’s another to charge people for a service and you set it up haphazardly.

    And no, “they don’t know it’s not perfect” is not an excuse. You have to take your profession more seriously or you stand to tarnish the reputations of many through your actions.

    As a regular follower of your blog I hope you take the above statement as constructive criticism.

    • bhline says:

      I appreciate you adding more info to your blog post and do commend you on your honesty, but hope that you get that not everyone knows you as intimately as your friends, family and coworkers. If I was randomly searching for a workshop in your area and saw this post, it would have deterred me.

      Thank you for hearing me out and not attacking back, as I stated earlier I love your blog and can tell your honesty is also what makes you a great therapist.

      bhline, I definitely understand that the original blog post did not leave the best impression of the workshop. I think my blogging strength is that I don’t bog people down with every single detail on a topic and it’s also my blogging weakness, as evidenced by this post. Thanks for your input!

  2. lizam2m says:

    You wanna know MY take? Well, you’re gonna get it anyway. Many perfectionists DON’T have perfect looking places and DO wait until the last minute to write papers and DON’T eat healthy. It’s usually due to the fact that, somewhere in there, they don’t want to take care of things like putting away their laundry because they feel it will take too long to make it perfect. And, if it can’t be perfect, why do it? If you started your paper early, it would NEED to be perfect because you gave it all that time. Waiting until the last minute relieves you of that. (I’m using the proverbial “you”.) Whether you take the time to make things perfect or reject taking the time so that it’s brilliantly UN-PERFECT, perfectionism can play a role. What about taking the lesson you learned from your workshop and apply it to your clothes? Just go ahead and put them away – regardless of whether it’s perfect or not. At least they’ll be off your floor. And just see what happens.

    You are such a great coach, Liza. Seriously. You’re SO right about perfectionism showing itself in 2 different ways: actually having a “perfect” life and the paralysis that comes with not wanting to bother with something if it won’t be perfect. And I will definitely make a point to approach cooking with the attitude I had towards the workshop. I do get stuck on “well, it’s not going to look/taste like a great chef made it” and opt for mickey-d’s instead. I’m going to train myself to cook regardless of perfection and look at it as something that can (and will) get progressively better. The clothes, however, will probably stay on the floor šŸ˜€ Just trying to keep it real.

    And thanks for splashing me!! You’re too sweet.

  3. lizam2m says:

    You’ve been SPLASHED!

  4. Liza is a great coach, isn’t she! And you could spend the time not folding the laundry because you want it to be perfect and starting projects early because you want them to be perfect. And you could drive yourself totally insane trying to be perfect, when in reality, nothing is ever perfect. Not that I know anything about this…..
    I think doing your best and knowing that you have done your best is the way to go. Keep it up!

    She is, she is, she is šŸ˜€ And I think that’s a definite thought to drive myself crazy with dreams of perfection. Doing your best really is all you can do, right?

    • lizam2m says:

      You two are just lovely. I’m just trying to figure out how I can get these nice words on my website and keep it in a context that’s understandable!

      Yes. Have either of you ever read “The Four Agreements”? Great book. One of the agreements is “Always Do Your Best,” and your best can vary dramatically. Your best on a day that you’re sick and didn’t get much sleep or dealing with some kind of grief will look a lot different that your best on a day where you feel great, energized and like the world is on your side.

      I can just re-write a testimonial of my Liza experience, if you’d like šŸ˜€ And that’s the second time I’ve heard of this 4 agreements book. One more time and it’s God talking to me…

  5. i love that you posted this. love it. and here are my thoughts.

    #1 if only i could be satisfied with ok. i’m constantly running in circles for perfection and frankly, its exhausting. its the way i’ve been my whole life, so i doubt it will ever change, but i don’t go a day without wishing i could approach life the way you do. at least for a day. oh how wonderful that would be. {grass is always greener, right?}

    #2 the workshop was fantastic. it was your first, and everyone learns things from their first time at anything – tying your shoes, cooking spaghetti, or teaching a marriage workshop. but we have been so positively impacted by even 1 of 2 of the workshop parts. we left with plenty of things to talk about, spent the next day driving and discussing it, and have really been working incredibly hard on understanding certain parts of ourselves and our relationship ever since. so changes or no changes – you helped us. prepared or not prepared (which i know you were) – we are a better couple for it. and hopefully we can set up those make-up sessions soon and we’ll play guinea pig to your new and improved plans.

    Future Mrs. Smith, thanks so much for this comment! And you’re so right about the grass being greener. I mean, even watching you plan your wedding I’m thinking “Oh, goodness why couldn’t I have cared to be even just a little bit perfect!” The grass is definitely greener on the other side!

    Seriously, thanks for the comment šŸ˜€

  6. Chelsea says:

    Great post. I think we are all like this. I have coined myself the Queen of Mediocrity! I did a similar post a few months ago. It’s great to want to be your best, but you also have to give yourself a break as well.

    I know what you were meaning to say about your workshop. You know it went well but you also know many places for improvement. I think it’s admirable to admit that.

    Ha, a sister Queen of Mediocrity! Love it. And I will be checking that post out soon (are we like blogging twins or something??)!

  7. Secret Agent "CT" says:

    Hi Marie! I’m a perfectionist, unfortunately. (Didn’t we talk about this the other day, or did I just dream it?) I do stress about all kinds of things that really do not matter in the big sceme of things. Ie. are all of my clothes facing the same direction in my closet. (I know…I’m weird.) It just makes me happy that it is “perfect” and the way that I want it.

    I have always waited until the last minute to write papers but they still had to be perfect. I would beg my mom at midnight to please get up and proof my paper. It was due at 8 am and I only have so many hours to correct it.

    I always pay my bills on time (usually early) and in full. I paid one bill a day late one time. You would’ve thought that something horrible had happened. I called the company and begged not to charge me late fees. I told them to look at my history! I’ve always paid early and in full!! Please! I have perfect credit and don’t want it ruined! They told me no and that one time wouldn’t hurt me. Little did they know. I worried about this for weeks and when I got the bill the next month. It still kind of upsets me… LOL

    I think not being a perfectionist would be nice! You wouldn’t worry as much about trival things. I even know they are trival but still will drive myself nuts because I know it’s not perfect!! When Thomas and I first married, I would try to be the perfect wife and have everything “done” at our house. I finally have let it go a little bit and have made myself not worry about things as much. It’s just too much work. If I can’t do it, 110% why only do it halfway?

    Oh…well. I’m sure your workshop was fabulous. If you are like me even a tiny bit, then you are harder on yourself than anyone else would be. šŸ™‚

    I think we did have this conversation but I’m having such a hard time placing it. Had to have been our last lunch date šŸ˜€ And you are just adorable about your perfectionist techniques… you should stop by the Future Mrs. Smith blog and give her some tips on when to be the “perfect” wife and when to let it slide šŸ˜€

  8. Linda says:

    You may think you were not prepared because it was not held in a beautiful office or you were not in a suit or your hair was not perfect etc. but what matters is, your clients learn something from the workshop that will help them grow their relationship and I am sure you served them well. I know you don’t care so much about what the world worry most the outward….you care about the inside that is the very reason you become a counselor you want to help others because you care ….don’t worry about how you are going to present your self but how you are going to help others. Just remember no matter how much you prepared on things theres always something goes wrong at the end. Just keep in mind to do your best in your standard .

    Thanks for the comment, Mom šŸ˜€ And I learned to care about the inside because I was raised by a wonderful woman. And I was raised to only worry about doing my best. Thank you for that!

    Oh, and sorry for never becoming a beauty queen šŸ˜€ (Ha ha, I’m just teasing)

  9. Cool blog post! Great content and cool stuff on here!!

    Thanks! And this blog is not nearly as cool as yours šŸ˜€

  10. Connie says:

    Some of us think you are great the way you are, young heart and spirit. I would think that all who attended your workshop got more than they payed for. Your fresh and honest approach to life and situations are so positive and encouraging I love following your life via your blog.

    Mom, thanks! I’m so glad that you stop by to read, it means a lot to me šŸ˜€

  11. Enjoy reading your blog. Have you checked the library for a room where you can host your workshops? I know someone who did that. Don’t know if it cost anything. It’s an option to check out.

    Thanks! I will have to look into it. From what I’ve heard you have to be a non-profit and you can’t charge a fee for whatever you’re doing at the library, but it’s definitely something to look into. Thanks for the suggestion!

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