“Excellence is working toward an attainable goal that benefits everyone, while perfection comes from a place of great need–usually the need to avoid criticism and gain praise and approval from others.” — Sandy Coughlin, as quoted in Myquillyn Smith’s book, “The Nesting Place.”
This quote hits me on so many levels. I have always called myself a perfectionist, but what I really strive to be is excellent. I struggle with juggling multiple hats and wanting to manage each role or situation with excellence. But I can’t do that in every area all the time. I might be excellent in one area, but it leaves something else off in the deep end.
My desk in my bedroom is the perfect example of an imperfect space (sorry, Mom). It’s covered in good intentions, sweet notes, unread books, scattered jewelry, more books, lists, receipts, a huge stack of wedding magazines, etc. It is my unfortunate catch-all. No matter how many times I clean off the desk, it is covered again within 2 days. Does my overwhelming amount of “stuff” condensed down to one room after college contribute to this problem? Yes. Do I intentionally neglect the desk? No. And yet, it still occurs. The culprit of the problem? My over-commitment issues. My inability to say NO. And my lack of time on top of all these things to manage my space.
I can say with certainty that I get this attribute (and curse) from my mother. I love being busy and having something to do. In some seasons, like this week and next week, it creates total chaos in my schedule. In other times, I still desire more. (You’re probably wondering what the heck is wrong with me at this point, right?) It’s how I grew up and how I operated in high school and college. But I think it’s high time I re-evaluated the impact this schedule and lifestyle have on my well-being.
If I so desire excellence, then I need to decide what exactly I want to be excellent at doing. I love all the things I do, but I’m not giving enough attention to any one thing. This is what I’m going to work on in the month of May: I’m going to quit 1 thing and make room for more room in my life and my schedule for ME and the people I care about. I will move toward building a way to manage the commitments and strive for excellence with each step. Obviously, failure will occur, but that will only teach me how to do it even better next time and make the situation even more beautiful and beneficial. After all, I’m striving for excellence, not perfection.
“I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” -Emily Ley