More Doing, Less Planning, Less Perfecting

I like to plan. I like to make lists to help me plan. And I make perfect lists—every detail written down. I even make a little dash beside each item so that I can perfectly insert a little check mark when I complete it. It’s perfect. Beautiful, really. Everyone should make lists as perfectly as I do.

But you know, it’s not the lists I write down that get me in trouble. They aren’t the ones that keep me from actually getting around to it (whatever IT may be). It’s the lists in my head, the ones that never reach paper, that get me in trouble and make me a sorrowful perfectionist who has been unable to complete the project because she was planning it too much. Did you catch that? Because she was PLANNING it too much. Because she wanted it be PERFECT.

I have done this a lot. I think of a project I’d like to complete (host a children’s book club; have a cool little party for my kids’ friends, make a cute and crafty perpetual calendar journal (see below)), and in my mind I build it up to be a rather large, insurmountable project that requires my utmost attention to every detail. It must be perfect. And do you know what happens to my big ideas? They stay on the shelf and collect dust. They become too hard because “I can’t do it right.”

Somewhere along the way I decided “I don’t want to do if I can do it right.” I may have heard this while I was growing up, but lately I’ve decided that this mantra really just keeps me from trying. It gives me permission to just do nothing. I mean, we all know the Edison / light bulb story, right? Do you think if Edison had held to my silly little mantra he would have attempted to invent the light bulb? Doubtful. So why should I pass up numerous opportunities to participate in a beautiful life just because “I don’t want to do it if I can’t do it right?” Don’t get me wrong, perfectionism has a place…like surgery rooms, or cartography, and most definitely chocolate. But being a perfectionist shouldn’t keep me from doing things in life that interest me.

For example, I saw this darling little calendar journal on Pinterest.

my inspiration (click to visit site)

I wanted one immediately. But it was going to require:

__ fruit box

__ 12 postcards

__ 180 4 x 6″ lined index cards

__ date stamp

__ paper cutter (or scissors)

(see my nice list??)

Ok, I didn’t have the fruit box. Poo. I didn’t have vintage postcards. Poo. I didn’t a date stamp. Poo. I didn’t have extra money to buy these things. Poo. My batting average was going down fast. Now, the perfectionist in me would have quit. But I LOVED the idea of this little calendar. So when the new year rolled around, I decided I’d had enough of this perfecting and planning. It was time to start DOING! MORE DOING!!

I started looking around. I did have a cute box. I did have note cards. I did have a pen that could write the date instead of stamping it. And I could make my own monthly dividers with cardstock I had on hand. So here it is:

I know it’s not nearly as cute as the one online, and it’s not finished, and it’s not perfect.

But it’s mine, and I did it, and I’m using it.

And that is the whole point.

(I know I need a better camera, but again, let’s stick to the theme this week.)

PS: I have tried and tried to fix the formatting  of this entry, but I cannot get it to work! Sorry for the weird placement of “I”.

5 thoughts on “MORE Doing

    1. Hey! Thanks so much for stopping by! Perfectionism can be a crazy thing! I read The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman that shed light on a perfectionists “messy desk” as he called it. A perpetual calendar is one I’ll keep for several years and each year I’ll add a comment for that particular day. So January 10, 2012 might say: “Great day with the family at the art museum.” Come 2013, when January 10 rolls around, I’ll pull out that card and write something about that day. I figure in a few years it will be pretty cool to read.

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  1. Oh, Jenny – I can SO relate! I’ll get an idea in my head (or from Pinterest!) and think, “OK, as soon as I get this, this, this and THIS done, I can do THAT!” And somehow, “this, this, this and THIS” never gets done or if it does, I’m too tired to do THAT! I used to get this way with cleaning the house – if I couldn’t get it ALL done at one time and have everything clean at the same time, what was the point? Of course, after having kids I realize this is impossible – one time, I was walking down my hall and there was a little toy on the floor. Normally, I would have picked it up and put it away, but this time I left it there. I ended up leaving it there for weeks as a reminder to myself that things don’t have to be absolutely perfect. Sometimes “good enough” is REALLY good enough! I’m loving your blog, keep up the great work!!

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