Perfect nightmare. Celebrating progress over perfection


It’s time to talk about you. A little. And me. Mostly. Because I only talk about you with close friends, and we always say amazing things about you. Love your shoes, by the way.

Perfection is one of those things that kills your mood, your progress and your will to be amazing. Is perfectionism hindering your life? Anxiety and perfection tend to go hand in hand, so even the smallest details become show stoppers when it comes to progress. Being able to identify where you struggle most can help you to adopt a healthy, positive attitude, even in the face of imperfect circumstances.

Why not begin a Thankfulness Journal and write one positive thing every day that makes you smile? It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of negativity and depression. Lifting yourself up, forgiving yourself, and making progress–even when it’s not Martha Stewart perfect, is all about those little choices you can make each day to cherish moments rather than languish over them.

Where do you fall? Are you laid back and cool as a cucumber or on the verge of self-destructive anxiety? Take this quiz to find out!

1. In the kitchen. After a trip across Wyoming, you return home to remember you hadn’t really cleaned much because you were too busy packing for the trip. Now you’re faced with a load of clean dishes to put away, coolers to clean, and two cast iron dutch ovens you meant to take care of a week ago but never felt like dealing with. You:
a. Organize the spice cabinet alphabetically instead
b. Make a list of five things you’ll accomplish in the kitchen and get them done, saving the rest for tomorrow
c. Order out for dinner since you can’t find the counters

2. In the bathroom. Your son alerts you that his friend is coming over in 30 minutes. Upon quick inspection, you see the floor is a little dusty, the inside of the tub needs a good scrub, and there are beauty supplies strewn across the top of the sink. You:
a. Set the timer for 10 minutes and race against the clock to see how much you can get done
b. Organize all of the medications in the cabinet alphabetically before you touch anything else
c. Get the bathroom decluttered and wiped down, and sweep the floor, but save the mop for later

3. In the office. You have a stack of mail up to your elbow, consisting of various tasks, from paying bills, to writing Thank You’s, to sending in even more paperwork to your child’s charter school. You:
a. Pull your child out of school and plot running away from home.
b. Organize a bunch of mis-matched envelopes according to size and color in case you ever need them.
c. Recycle the junk mail, pay the bills, and write the Thank You’s when you’ve had a break and feel rejuvenated.

4. At Work. Deadlines loom ever forward. A huge project you are dreading due to scope is due in two weeks, but you want to put it off until you feel it’s the right time to tackle the project. You:
a. Spend 15 minutes on the project every day to make a little bit of progress at a time.
b. Put the project off until the night before because you work best under pressure.
c. Clean your email inbox and sort emails in order of importance instead.

5. At the gym. You’re out of shape, overweight, and your New Year’s Membership isn’t getting any younger. You:
a. Wait until you lose 20 pounds before you hit the gym because then you’re sure to be better able to cope with the physical activity.
b. Sign up with a trainer right away because you know you might not pop the yoga balance ball so long as you don’t breathe while sitting on it.
c. Start out slow, knowing you’re going to build muscle as you go.

6. At the table. You’re on a diet, but a spoon of peanut butter somehow slipped into your mouth after a particularly stressful day. You:
a. Enjoy the peanut butter and lavish over every morsel of its creamy flavor, and get back on plan with the next bite of food you enjoy.
b. Go for the Chunky Lunky ice cream in the freezer while you’re at it.
c. Exercise for an extra hour to work off the indulgence.

Points. Total points based on your responses.
1. a. 0, b. 2, c. 1
2. a. 0, b. 1, c. 2
3. a. 1, b. 0, c. 2
4. a. 2, b. 1, c. 0
5. a. 0, b. 1, c. 2
6. a. 2, b. 0, c. 1

5-6 points Worry free Wendy
What. Me worry? You’re more laid back and relax, allowing things to happen as they may. Don’t get me wrong–this doesn’t mean you’re fixing for a visit from Hoarders. You might not have the cleanest house, or the greatest organization, but you’re plugging away, and you’re making progress in the process. You’re more care-free, and while it means you’re not perfect, who needs it? You’re still going where you want to go.
Tip: Make a 5-task to-do list to keep you going every day, or you might slip behind schedule.

3-4 points Even Keeled Evelyn
You know how to manage your time. Sometimes you’re trying to get things done quickly, and sometimes you allow yourself a little bit of leeway to balance yourself out. You might hit the gym with a trainer before you’re ready, but you’re not going to hurt yourself. You know what your limits are, have a good feel for deadlines and you forgive yourself for being human without knocking yourself in the head for it.
Tip: Don’t forget to donate five things you can live without today. You’ll de-clutter your life just a little bit, and you deserve it! Plus, the less you own, the less there is to clean.

0-2 points Perfect Polly
All or nothing, you’re easily overwhelmed. You cut yourself little slack, put off tasks that give you anxiety and tend to wait in the wings while life happens around you. I mean, if it can’t be perfect, why bother, right? It’s better to wait until the task at hand can be perfect, so why not organize the spices, put off the gym, and succumb to the frozen dairy treat?
Tip: Progress isn’t about perfection. Clean the kitchen, but don’t worry about mopping today. Go to the gym, even if it’s to walk one single lap around the track. Lower your expectations and enjoy your accomplishments, even if your email inbox is still full or you have a few cards to pen to friends in appreciation. The world didn’t end because you closed the shower curtain instead of scrubbing down the tub after a rough day.

Remember to be kind to yourself. You don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly wonderful.

This quiz is not meant to diagnose medical or psychological conditions, but is meant for entertainment purposes only. Please see a doctor for proper diagnosis for anxiety or other conditions.

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  1. Karen Rysavy says

    LOL, I have a real problem with the choices for #2… MY "son's friend"s do not inspire any cleaning for their arrivals. Had you said "my" friend, there might have been SOME cleaning inspired, but for a young guy?? Naaaaaaaaaah.

  2. Audrey Weekes says

    Loved this article/self assessment. You crack me up…


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