Simplifying 2019: Part 1 - Grace
December 28, 2018
I’m a perfectionist by nature. It’s in my DNA to want to do things the right way, the first time. If I’m hanging a picture on the wall, you bet I use a level. I may as well have a no-typo guarantee when I’m emailing (texting is another story). I like my kids’ clothes folded neatly in their dressers, even if it doesn’t last long. The desire to do things well is in my blood: It’s just who I am. But when I let my Type-A personality go unchecked, I lose sight of what matters most.
There are days when the standard of perfection follows me around, whispering in my ears about how I’m failing my family or my business. I didn’t fold the laundry. My kids spent a little too much time on devices. I didn’t meal plan or grocery shop. The lighting on that photo I posted is a little off. Suddenly, I feel paralyzed. And because I can’t do things perfectly, I feel like I can’t do anything at all. What I need in these moments, and what I’m running after in 2019, is GRACE.
Maybe you’re in it with me. Maybe your soul is hungry for grace, too. If you are, I have good news for both of us. At first glance, grace might look like backing down or missing out, but it’s actually the opposite. Grace isn’t weakness. Grace is having the guts to say “yes” to what matters so you can say “no” to what doesn’t.
It’s being realistic about what we can and can’t handle.
It’s not beating ourselves up when we get it wrong.
It’s realizing no one is asking us to be perfect.
It’s remembering our worth can’t be earned.
It’s deciding that we can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all.
It’s seeing ourselves through a lens of kindness, just like we would anyone else.
It’s setting a standard of love.
It’s saying YES to the mess if that means being more present with our kids, our spouses, our work, our friends, our lives.
Doesn’t that sound … refreshing? Healing, even?
Like growing in any other aspect of our lives, creating a culture of grace in our hearts and in our homes doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like setting a new routine into motion — it’ll take intention and attention. Ready for a soul rest in 2019? Here are a few things to think about as you run after grace.
Start by seeing yourself through a new lens. Why is it so easy to show grace to the people around us but so difficult to show grace to ourselves? We’d never expect our families or friends to do everything perfectly, yet we demand perfection from ourselves — and beat ourselves up when we can’t meet the standard. It’s like a hamster on a wheel, always chasing something out of reach. The first step to integrating grace into your life is adjusting how you see yourself. Take some time to journal about what it means to separate who you are from what you do, and come up with some practical self-reminders to revisit, like “the standard isn’t perfection,” or “no one is asking me to do it all.”
Embrace a slower rhythm of life. The frantic pace of a busy schedule feeds perfectionism. A routine with margins does the opposite. When you don’t have time to slow down and re-calibrate with your priorities, it’s unlikely you’ll take time to remind yourself of grace. Maybe you, like me, need to hit “pause” on the rat race! Try reducing the “clutter” in your personal, work, and family rhythms and honing in on what matters most to you. Everything else is extra!
Rely on lists. Plan ahead to protect yourself from the demands of perfectionism. At the beginning of every week or day, pull out your planner and list the “absolutes” you need to accomplish, followed by the “maybes” that are contingent on things like energy and time. Be realistic with yourself about what you can accomplish, and give yourself grace if you don’t get the maybes done. There’s always next week — or next month.
Place reminders of grace around your home. Grace sounds great in theory, but in the thick of a busy or stressful day, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re focusing on. For me, it’s SO helpful to have visible reminders around my home and office of what matters. I love to display art prints and even little post-its that speak truth to me when I’m prone to forget it — I even set my phone background to something encouraging.
A few other suggestions for a lifestyle of grace:
- I’m so passionate about this topic that I wrote a whole book on it. Grace, Not Perfection is my story of embracing the joy found in simplicity, and it comes with tons of practical tools for simplifying your own life. For some equally soulful and practical musings on a life of simplicity, I also love Erin Loechner’s book, Chasing Slow. (If you’re not following her on Instagram, go do it!)
- Game changer: Invest in a journal and planner that will help you keep your priorities in plain view — and in the rhythms of your life — on the daily (or weekly!). Or take advantage of the free downloads we created to help you simplify. Since meal planning can be a perfectionism pain point for me, I love the go-to meals printable to keep things simple in the kitchen!
- I love to listen to encouraging podcasts that inspire me to live a life of presence and simplicity and remind me that I don’t have to have it all together — and bonus if they make me laugh. I’m a big fan of Jamie Ivey’s podcast, The Happy Hour. Here’s the episode where we talked about Grace, Not Perfection. This is also a good one with Jessica Turner, author of Stretched Too Thin, which a great book for working moms. I love when they talk about the concept of the mental load!
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