A while ago, my friend shared a link on Facebook to this great little article called Perfection: the thief of good enough. I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. Wanting so badly to “do it right” and ending up doing nothing instead is a phenomenon I am very familiar with, but for some reason this article made me see it from a different angle. I’d always thought of this paralyzing perfectionism in terms of projects, but it reaches into so many more aspects of life! This isn’t just about waiting until I find the perfect new couch to change up the throw pillows. It’s reading one book to Miles even if I don’t have time to read his whole stack. It’s enjoying a low-key morning even if I don’t get to laze around all day. It’s picking up the toys even though they’ll be all over the floor again tomorrow. And really, it’s life in general – still trying even though I’m imperfect. Any one step in the right direction counts, no matter how many steps you falter the other way. For another great article about this specifically, check out my friend Janelle’s blog here.
This was all leading up to a story about my kitchen window. And it’s kind of embarrassing. But this blog is no good if I can’t be real, so here I go.
My awesome husband sprays our house for bugs every 6 months or so, and it makes SUCH a difference in the amount of unwelcome guests around here. We used to pay someone to do it but now we do it ourselves and save a ton of money. I highly recommend it. But back to my window. About a year ago, Devin sprayed for bugs, and when he sprayed around my kitchen window (you know, the one I stand in front of for about 6 hours a day), the stuff dripped allllll down the window. It looked terrible. I didn’t clean it up right away because I thought it should have a chance to dry and do it’s bug-killing magic. But then I continued to not clean it up. For months. In the winter I started noticing how gross all my windows were and I wanted to have them cleaned professionally. But I wasn’t about to pay a bunch of money for clean windows that will only last until the next snowfall. So I waited, and the windows stayed dirty. I finally called someone in the spring. I got a bid. It seemed high. ‘I should get another bid, see if someone will do it for less,’ I thought. So I waited, and the windows stayed dirty. Especially that one in the kitchen. Then it was time to spray for bugs again, and I certainly wasn’t going to wash the kitchen window then. It would just get dirty again! So he sprayed again about a month ago, and it dripped, and I didn’t wash it, etc. etc. ‘I should just wait until I find the right company to wash the outside of all the windows, and then I’ll wash all the insides and it’ll be great.’ That kitchen window that I look at so many times every single day continued to have sticky streaks all over – streaks that remind me of dead bugs. Until today. When I looked at that window for maybe the 17th time today, I thought about the perfection article. And I grabbed a rag. I washed the inside and then, wouldn’t you know it? I had the time & energy to wash the outside too! So I popped out the screen, took my squeegee out there and just did it. It was kinda fun, so I washed two more windows outside, including the huge one in our living room that regularly gets splattered with bird poop.
But I stopped there. This house has something like 18 windows, and I only washed 3. But guess what? I feel this enormous sense of accomplishment right now (not that enormous, I’m not delusional). I am satisfied. And I can’t stop looking out my kitchen window. I’m just happy with it and only wish I’d washed it sooner. It doesn’t even bother me that there are lots of other windows in this house that are not clean. I DID something and now I have a better view. It’s a step in the right direction, period. I know it may be shocking that I let such a prominent window go unwashed for a year. That is pretty bad, really. But I have other priorities and cleaning is not my strong suit. That doesn’t mean it didn’t bother me. It totally did, every time I looked at it! But my perfection paralysis took over and I kept waiting for more time or money, or to have it “together” to have a clean window. So the good news is that if I want a clean window, I can just clean the dang thing.
And it doesn’t stop there! If I want to be healthier, I can exercise. Even if I only do it once, it will do my body some good. If I want more energy I can go to bed early. The best part is that when you do good, you feel good, and you want to do more good. It’s self-perpetuating. I am NOT saying that you will only do good from that point on. That is completely not the case. But just taking action is the thing (dare I say the only thing?) that will lead to taking more action, and more importantly, to satisfaction. Even with perfection nowhere in sight.