Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Perfect Plan

I will never achieve perfection. There, I’ve said it and I think that I actually know it too. So why do I often feel bad that I cannot reach it? I’m constantly feeling disappointed that I’m not doing it all. Martha’s (Stewart that is) name is often used as shorthand for someone who accepts nothing less than perfection. Similarly, I think I must aspire to a successful and lucrative career, spiritual enlightenment, expansive knowledge, a svelte physique, and domestic order and beauty at. all. times. But Martha isn’t perfect; it takes an army of people to create a Martha.

Not too long ago I was reflecting on what I am used to thinking of as my personal weaknesses. The stumbling blocks on the road to perfect that I’m supposed focus on in the name of self-improvement. The problem with this thinking is that it easily slips into a downward spiral of self-loathing. I have NEVER, EVER been good at self-motivation and equally measured expenditures of energy (I’m talking routine here). I’m a big-time procrastinator. This means that I almost always have a pile of clothing next to my bed, ten projects that I intend to do, another five on the go, aspirations of sticking to an exercise routine, writing regular blog posts, etcetera…If I’m honest I know that I’m probably never going to master self-motivation. So does this mean that I’m going to be perpetually disappointed in myself? Will I always be wondering what might have I become if only I had been perfect at all these failings? No thanks. I actually usually like myself. Usually.

In my reflections I was struck with a revolutionary idea: why not view my so-called weaknesses as strengths? Kind of Newton’s third - what is the flip side of weakness? If I’m not something, then what is the positive statement that can be made from the same starting point? If I’m bad at motivating myself to do work in a calm steady way how does that become a good attribute? Well, I’m pretty good at producing more than passable work at the last minute, under the wire. I always have been. I always have grand plans for this that and the other thing and don’t execute them. Well that means that I’m always coming up with creative ideas and solutions.

I’m not suggesting that I ditch the idea of personal growth. Rather, feeling bad about my so-called shortcomings is an area that needs some work. My self-confidence is such that I honestly would have trouble telling you, should you care to ask, what my strengths are, but I’m an expert in my shortcomings. I’m going to use that expert knowledge and subvert it – in the name of self-improvement. It’s an (im)perfect plan.