The Impossible Dream: Perfectionism

Well, you heard it here first… straight from the horse’s mouth. Even Professional Organizers are not perfect.   It is far too high a standard for any person to aspire to be and yet so many of us have an that insatiable desire to still get there.  Indeed, a common, but unrealizitic expectation that we all struggle with.  It’s so hard to get to “perfect”, because nothing, and noone, actually is.

I generally advise my overwhelmed clients to get to “good enough”, and in most cases, that’s a productive middle ground that provides them with a healthy life-balance. But each of us have our own scale of how we measure perfection. One person’s “good” can be another person’s “great.”

Honestly, I try to practice what I preach, but I admittedly do get caught up in dotting the I’s, and crossing T’s syndrome, (I’m not perfect, remember?) But this holiday season provided me with a teachable moment I’d like to share.

I recently blogged about the enormous amount of preparation involved in organizing a Passover Seder. Sometimes it seems like it takes a village to prepare, but that’s before I realized that I could recruit my family as eager volunteers. To really know me is to know that during this holiday, I run the kitchen fastidiously, like I’m some fancy sous chef (which I am clearly not), checking off notes, re-writing lists, all while delegating jobs out to my happy helping hands.  At least, they start out being happy and enthusiastic, until I start micro-managing each of their tasks, as my inner drill sergeant kicks in.  Relinquishing control is not my strong suit, but I realize that I can’t possibly chop, slice, bake, boil, stir, marinate, set the table and babysit the brisket and chicken in the oven, all by myself.  So I focused on completion more than perfection.  That was the plan.

What I did not plan on was my husband getting bitten by a neighbor’s dog, two hours before the Seder.  When we realized the bite had broken his skin, we knew he needed immediate medical care. Our tasks quickly changed from chopping onions to frantically calling local emergency medi-centers that could squeeze him in.  After a long wait, he returned with bandaged leg, tetnis shot, and a script for antibiotics.  Some family members were due to arrive by train and so I detoured to the pharmacy en route to the train station, leaving my stand-in kitchen patrol at bay.

The Seder eventually got started, but not without consequences.  My signature brisket didn’t live up to its infallible reputation, the neglected veggies were not as firm as preferred, and the sauteed onions might have been a bit too well-done.  Don’t get me wrong, everything was still delicious…it just wasn’t perfect.  At the end of the day, I was surrounded by my beautiful loving family, singing and laughing as we recalled the drama of the day. The actual food paled in comparison to the intimate and special celebration of the evening.  We went for “good enough” and it felt just like “perfect.”

How do you measure perfectionism? What does ideal perfect mean to you?

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