Stop chasing perfectionism and do this instead.
Or, how my life stopped being a box-ticking exercise.
Quite some time ago, my partner and I created a list of things we wanted to achieve. This list was diverse to say the least – from big purchases we wanted to buy, or travelling plans we had, to work we needed doing in our house. We made this list visible – in fact, we wrote every action on a separate post-it note and stuck them all to our wall. We were thorough and proactive – hell, we created both a ‘to-do’ and a ‘completed’ section, again on our wall.
Aside from whatever guests thought of this use of wall space, the strategy worked well for quite some time. We would get excited whenever we completed a task. The moving of a post-it from the ‘to-do’ to the ‘completed’ section was a ceremony in itself. After a good few years of illness, struggle, drama and, quite frankly, focusing purely on survival, this list of post-its felt like a huge achievement. We were moving forwards and taking more action in our lives with every completed post-it. It really was symbolic for us both.
I reflected on this list just the other day. We had moved past this list, and I had almost forgotten about it. We have accomplished a lot since then, none of which was on a post-it! Although the list had not been looked at or amended in forever, I wanted to have a look at all the ‘tasks’ we ticked off way back then.
I couldn’t believe what I saw!
All of the ‘straightforward’ tasks were completed. These were mostly the simple, essential and/or urgent actions…
Get a new door fitted.
Paint this room.
Buy this thing.
There were a few post-its that still remained in the ‘to-do’ section. And I saw a common theme. The tasks that were never started were all experience-based…
Try a new sport or adventure activity.
Go on that road trip.
Visit this part of the world.
I can understand why. During this post-it-note era, as I mentioned earlier, we were just out of a really tough time. Transitioning out of a state of struggle, survival and hardship (on every level) was hard! Especially moving out of the ‘I would love to but….’. mindset. Being cautious because we couldn’t predict what tomorrow was going to be like, let alone next month. I think it held us back, even when we were trying to move forwards.
So although we were taking action, we were still playing it safe. There were a few experience-based post-its that were marked as completed, but not many. And I think it was this misperception of needing to be cautious that slowed down our transition from SURVIVING to LIVING.
In some ways, the to-do list was helpful. Over the times of hardship, we each had a bunch of things on our minds – dreams, goals, actions we wanted to take. It was helpful to share these aspirations, and have them all written down in that way.
However, I don’t know how progressive it really was overall. Yes, we got some easier tasks completed, which may have otherwise never been finished. That said, I also feel like this list limited us in some ways. Perhaps it stopped us being so spontaneous and in alignment with our intuition, both of which are important qualities in our relationship and our lives.
I think in some ways it was a false expectation of ticking off tasks and expecting everything to be perfect, so we could live happily ever after.
Life doesn’t work like that.
How my life stopped being a box-ticking exercise
In the time that has past since we stopped acting from this to-do list, I’ve felt limitless.
I’ve said YES to new opportunities, and spent considerable time outside of my comfort zone.
But these opportunities weren’t derived from a preconceived list. They were a result of me being spontaneous and putting myself ‘out there’ and going with what felt right.
Some of these challenges and wins would never have made it on to my ‘to-do list’ because they just weren’t on my radar of possibilities. Six months or a year ago they wouldn’t have been goals of mine, but life changes and so do we.
I don’t expect to achieve happiness from ticking off boxes, or moving post-it notes into a ‘completed’ section. But nor do I seek happiness as a goal. Happiness is easily accessed, and just as easily lost. Eating your favourite food. Great sex. Belly laughter. Nailing a new yoga pose.
Happiness is fleeting.
I now venture towards wholeness.
That sense of contentment when time almost stands still and you can just be present.
Spending time with the people who just get you, the real you.
Creating something SO aligned with who you are, that it feels like its an extension of you (a business, a piece of art, a blog post that bares your soul – hi!).
Can you stop chasing perfectionism? And how can you create this sense of wholeness?
Stop chasing perfectionism
So creating and having embodied experiences are what makes us whole. These don’t have to be flashy. They don’t have to be the adventure activities, road trips or holidays that were on my to-do list all that time ago.
All that you need to do is be present, and show up fully.
This is your sign. If you are still reading this. If you feel like you are holding off in your life. This is for you if you’re waiting for something perfect to happen before you can start chasing your dreams.
Life is not a to-do list waiting to be ticked off.
Say yes to living. Put yourself out there, as much as you are able to right now. Get spontaneous in your life. Feel into your intuition and not fear. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, and you are never going to be 100% ready. But embrace every experience, and immerse yourself in everything you do. Because all that you are required to do is show up. Stop chasing perfectionism, and start living.
Let me know how this landed for you – I would truly love to hear. Comment below, fire me an email or drop me a DM (@talisyoga on IG). This way of thinking changed my life, and I would love to help you too.
Love and light