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Perfectionism and making do

how to get over perfectionism

I grew up in a house of doers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'make do-ers'. Clothes were from jumble sales, altered and spliced; beautiful vases were displayed chips to the wall; recipes were followed very loosely, sweeping substitutions made for absent ingredients. My parents' garden was full of allotment-style cobbled together structures, the beans grew up old mattress springs, cassette tapes were disembowelled to scare pigeons from the cabbages, there was no worry about having the exact tool for a job, there was no feeling that you had to learn everything before you began.

I think that this was a very common type of 1970s childhood - I've since bonded with several people over memories of car exhausts being mended with baked bean cans - people just got on with things and there was no idea of 'perfect'.

It has been the very best upbringing possible for an entrepreneur. The precedent of working a way to do something with what you already have, rather than waiting for everything to be affordable and available is invaluable. The main point in my childhood was that you got something working even if it was a bit rough around the edges. It was a time of practical skills.

It has meant that I grew up without a perfectionist bone in my body. I am quite details oriented, I like things to look nice and to work well, I spend a lot of time walking and thinking, but, once I've decided to do something, it is all about the going for it, the process, the jumping off.

So when I find myself fussing over something inconsequential like a font size, I absolutely know it isn't 'perfectionism' it is fear. It is just a form of worry, a putting off the performance.

Many people, largely younger women, complain to me about their perfectionism and how it prevents them from completing things and putting them out in the world. I used to think that this was really just a bit of an excuse, a way of not doing the hard work by keeping busy with editing and re-editing and deleting. In the past I may have rolled my eyes and I routinely put all job applications mentioning perfectionism to the bottom of the pile.

But now I'm more sympathetic and just wonder if people simply missed out on this stage of life and now need to deliberately re-cultivate the make-do in their lives. I wonder if this perfectionism that seems to hobble so many people in their 30s and early 40s is partly because our society began to throw out and replace things rather than mend them from the 1980s onwards. Maybe their perfectionism was encouraged by so many things becoming disposable, short lived, with parts that couldn't be replaced. Lots of people's income went up, media got shinier, there was less making do.

"Making do" could feel like selling ourselves short - for we were 'worth it'.

Rather than working on altering mindset or reading books of how to recover from the paralysis of perfection, perhaps we just need to work with our hands and mend our clothes and improvise recipes and just give things a go and celebrate all the glorious shonky results.

Which - rather neatly - as well as freeing all the amazing blocked ideas out into the world, would also help us move from the consumerist cycle which is causing so many problems in the world with its mantra of more and more and more.

What could you 'make do' with today?

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What do you do to break your routine? ⠀
Yesterday, instead of eating lunch at my desk, I packed up soup and some bread into a backpack and headed outside.⁠⠀
I'm sharing my favourite seasonal soup recipe in this week's newsletter - you can sign up via the link in bio or at www.snapdragonlife.com.⁠⠀
The bread is a @katgoldin recipe (she is having an instagram bake along this weekend if you fancy making your own) and the instructions for making the beeswax wrap are on my blog.
I grew up by this sea. Perfect for introspective teenage walks, head down into the wind. 
We went for our New Year stay with my parents this weekend - beach walks, lots of dogs and extended family time. No time for introspection.
I spent yesterday afternoon at the kitchen table sorting out my boxes of vegetable seeds.⁠⠀
Dividing them into types and sowing seasons, seeing what I have enough of (17 varieties of kale is probably enough) and what has run out. ⁠⠀
Then I spent some time browsing through catalogues to see what new (to me) things I can try - I'm keen to try growing celery this year as it is often difficult to find organic celery in the shops and the non organic has the highest chemical input of any vegetable.⁠⠀
Are you growing vegetables this year? Is there anything new on your list?
And suddenly it is time to get the house back to normal - I'm gradually putting obviously Christmassy things away, rearranging the bulbs, making the 'tidy spots' in the house look cared for.⁠⠀
It was so lovely to see people signing up as Studio Members yesterday and to welcome them into the Facebook Group where this month we are talking about Dream Planning (my anti-planning system) and the way the subconscious brain can help or hinder you.⁠⠀
This photo of Budgie, my psychopathic middle cat, was taken last January - just after she had knocked pots out of the way to clear some proper bird watching space.⁠⠀
Yesterday morning, while the cats slept on the bed, there were 18 birds in the hedge waiting their turn to feed from the window feeder.
Happy New Year.⁠⠀
What are you wanting to bring into your life this year? ⁠⠀
I'm actually very anti-resolutions, my character is not good with anything structured (off the scale rebel on @gretchenrubin’s test) I also want my life to be more than ticking things off a to-do list and as soon as one exists I rebel and procrastinate. ⁠⠀
If I write a formal plan you can be pretty sure that I will do nothing on it. If I make a resolution something drives me to go the opposite way.⁠⠀
That is why I do something much gentler - no workbooks, lists or plans -  but it is also something which I believe is much more powerful. I call it the Dream Life Planner and it is based on guiding the subconscious brain to support rather than sabotage you. It is a simple way to make big changes in the way you live. ⁠⠀
You can get the basic modules by signing up to my newsletter or - if you want something more guided and detailed, with more of the science behind it, sign up to Snapdragon Studio Membership and you will get weekly e-mails throughout January. The next 4 people to sign up to Membership get a hard copy monthly planner too. You can find out more by clicking through my bio or visiting www.snapdragonlife.com
Happy Hogmanay.⁠⠀
Christmas only officially became a holiday in Scotland in 1958. Before that, for 400 years, it had been a day like any other. ⁠⠀
Here it has always been more about the gathering with friends and neighbours to see the New Year in. ⁠⠀
Tonight we have Open House, everyone is welcome - just come on in if you are passing, there is plenty food and drink. (DM me for the address if you don't have it.)⁠⠀
I think that it may be because Hogmanay is the main thing for me that all my decorations are light and bright, pale metallics and sprouting bulbs. This is the window seat by the stove.
Yesterday we walked from Drymen over the Conic to have lunch at the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha.⁠⠀
Katie took this as we headed over the brow of the hill and onto the downward part. I was looking out over Loch Lomond, with that magnificent winter sunshine on the water, congratulating myself that I was going to make it after all. (I am really not at all fit at the moment).⁠⠀
I mentioned a couple of posts back that I was thinking of going off line for a bit over the festive season - I have noticed that tugging panicked feeling when I haven't my phone in my hand increasing, and the way seeing someone on their phone drives me to pick up mine, and even worse the repetitive scrolling when I actually want to be reading a proper book. ⁠⠀
So I'm going to switch my phone off until 30th. ⁠⠀
I only say this because last year a friend - also a bit of a social media addict - did this unannounced and, after a week, I was so concerned that I was on the point of texting her husband to see if she was ill/imprisoned/dead.
Today I’m going to decorate the house - plant the amaryllis in glass vases, put up the fairy lights, hang the big mercury glass baubles in the window, get the paper white narcissi our from the cool of the guest room. 
For some reason it hasn’t felt right until today, but now it feels like a family Christmas can begin. 
I’m much more of a Hogmanay person so I suspect that I’m actually decorating for the new year. 
And then I’m going to close everything down, put on the auto responders, sit with a gin and crisps by the stove and celebrate the gradual returning of the light.

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here