Day 22: It’s OK To Be Imperfect

Day 22: It’s OK to be imperfect.  (If you just landed here, you can catch up by, starting with the first post in the series.)

Brene Brown's book is a must-read for every imperfectionist. And perfectionist.

Wisdom from the comments:
Arlene Holtz noticed, “I have also skipped a couple of days of writing since I started – not deliberately (well, at least not consciously). . . . What was different for me this time, was I noticed I hadn’t written, and even “missed” the writing. In fact, I was really relieved to get back to writing the very next day. It feels like it is becoming a real part of who I am.”

Marianna Dougherty wrote, “I do sitting meditation and sometimes get great revelations as a result. Not during the meditation but later in the day or another day. It’s the process of quieting my mind and the daily practice that brings about results.”

Diane Becka had no problem with walking everyday, “On the days I don’t want to, I do it mostly because I haven’t missed a day. So even in bad weather I find a way to walk just so I can feel I’ve kept this commitment to myself,”  but hit a rough patch on the writing, “Journaling has been another matter. I just couldn’t make myself start. I bought more blank books, new pens. Nothing. Every day I would read how much the writing was helping others, all that you were learning from it, and the more I read, the harder it was. I let the expectations I had grow until there was no way I could meet them and it was overwhelming.”

Bo Mackison said, “I find it hard to do the writing and the walking, maybe if I had made the commitment to do one, got that down and then added the other it would have been easier. ANd I have no ambition to walk in cold or snow or sleet or winter mix. . .”

*     *     *     *    *

What causes most people to quit a new habit? The same thing that causes most people to abandon their New Year’s resolutions? It’s not that the goals are too lofty (unless made in a hurry under the influence of drink or peer pressure), but the mistaken belief that one mis-step “ruins it all.” It doesn’t. One mis-step, one missed day, one incomplete page is just that–an imperfection. It doesn’t invalidate the intention or the goal.

Quote from Brene Brown's book.

It does, however, make it easier to add another missed day to the stack. And that’s where the self discipline comes in. If you skip a day, be aware of it, be conscious, make it a choice. And the next day, make it a choice to return.

Change doesn’t happen all at once. Change happens when we replace one action with another. And the more often the replacement happens, the more likely we are to repeat, until we have a new habit. In an email I received, someone insisted that if they forgot one day, they would have to “start over,” they added, “with nothing.” I know that’s how AA does the counting, but I don’t think that’s true with journaling. You have something. You have begun to walk down a path. You are exploring your motives and excuses. That’s not nothing.

Of course, if you want something positive to happen, you will have to kick yourself occasionally to keep doing it, and you will have to do the work, but you will always do your work imperfectly, because that is the reason we keep learning–every imperfection is a chance to learn something new.

What have you been learning as you go along?

--Quinn McDonald is a journaler and creativity coach who is exploring the habit of journal writing with readers of the blog.

Image: the saying from Brene Brown is available for purchase from this site. I am not recommending it, I’m simply letting you know where it’s from.

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12 responses to “Day 22: It’s OK To Be Imperfect

  1. The reminder to be imperfect is a gift indeed!

    PS the link to the shopping site seems a little out of place – perhaps it would be better to send people to Brene Brown’s site so they can check out her work? and grab other badges from there.

    • Thanks for the question on the link to the shopping site. I took the image from the site, and the woman makes those plaques. For copyright ethics, I have a strict rule about listing the url for the site where I found the image, which is why I also said I don’t endorse the product. Brene has a lot of images on her site, many of which are under copyright and can’t be copied onto my site. (See?, it’s tricky.) But her site for badges and products: http://www.brenebrown.com/badge

  2. One step at a time.
    One sentence at a time.
    Sometimes I hate that it is so slow. But sometimes I’m relieved that I can do everything in baby steps.

  3. I have been quite dutiful to both the walking and the writing. I know that there are days I have to ‘make’ myself do it, but I want it all to become a good habit. The walking is easy as I learned that habit before, and now I am ready every day. It is the writing habit that is hard for me, but I feel that it is getting easier and easier and I am grateful.

    One thing I noticed in my writing, is that in the beginning it was more surface stuff and now 3 weeks in it is starting to be more personal. I also noticed by looking back at my pages that my handwriting changes as I touch on more personal or difficult things. I wonder what that means?

    I enjoyed Brene Brown’s book ‘the Gifts of Imperfection’. It made me feel better about not being perfect and to realize that I am who I am!

    • That’s what happens as we develop a writing habit. At first it’s all surface and complaining, and then we move into the deep portion of our lives, where the answers live. And I do think that our handwriting changes as our grip changes. As we believe ourselves more. As we trust more.

  4. I have had days where I’ve totally forgotten to write or walk….in fact walk has been nearly nonexistent.

  5. …………so….after leaving the comment earlier, I went to the writing – and found an answer for myself in the form of a prayer for self, which I have posted on my blog

    http://krystyna-rawicz.blogspot.com/2012/01/prayer-for-self-for-new-year.html

    I didn’t think too much about it, and didn’t even realise that I HAD found my own answer until I went for my walk…..

    How unaware we can be even when we think we are aware –

    and how valuable this practice you have invited us into is.

    Thanks again Quinn

  6. It is the last day of the holidays here. Tommorow, the world returns to “normal” – work, pressure, worries and stress. I can feel how much I don’t want that. I’m pondering how I might be able to take the lessons of these days of practice into “my life” from tommorow. Even as I write that, I realise and become more aware of the seperation between the life I live in “the world out there” (being, I guess, who I think I should be) and my inner life (the one more reflected in my blog and in this practice).
    Yet the bills have to be paid and the children have to be fed and clothed, and we all need a roof over our heads.
    Its hard to hold on to who you are, no matter how much you may embrace it, in a world of “musts” and survival.
    Any hints or suggestions from anyone?

    • I spent many years in the corporate world. I found that being helpful and kind at work (a shock for some people) made it easier to be there. But I poured my heart into my art. We all have to feed our families.

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