I think a lot of people let the idea of perfection get in the way of living. When you expect perfection you raise the bar so high, most of the time you don't live up to it and you're left disappointed. I don't think anything is perfect in day to day living, and it's not meant to be. I'm far from perfect. I'm as flawed as the next person and happily accepted that many years ago. If I was living with the expectation of being perfect or carrying out my tasks perfectly, I'd probably be too scared to try most of the things I have tried.

I do try to do my best though. I try for that in every thing I do. When I write this blog, I try my best. Not so it's the best blog or to outshine any other bloggers. I do it because I want it to be the best I'm capable of. Some days I get it right, some days I don't, but I'm okay with both.

My guess is that this topic wouldn't mean much except that it stops some people from trying new things. They're scared of failure. They don't want to make mistakes. I think mistakes are one of the greatest learning tools. They show you you've done something wrong and if you stop and think about it, often they show you how to fix the mistake as well. Whenever I make a mistake I know that what I did wrong, and what I did to fix it, will be cemented into my brain forever. And although I don't like making mistakes, when I do, I gratefully accept the lessons they have to teach me.

When I first started this blog, in the first few months, I occasionally used material I'd written for a book proposal. I sent it off to three publishers and they all said no to me. But I believed in what I had written, turned that book proposal into this blog and a few months later, Penguin came knocking and offered me a book contract. If I had my choice of book publishers, I would have chosen Penguin, but I didn't send my proposal to them because I didn't think I was that good. Now I have one published Penguin book and am in the process of writing another. It's a good lesson in trying your best in everything you do. When all the ducks are lined up, your best if often exactly what others want.

Mini packs of green beans - servings for two - blanched and ready for the freezer.

So instead of concentrating on perfection, concentrate on giving, on love, on generosity, self-reliance, family tradition, home skills and understanding. You never know, the end result might just be close to perfect.

Decluttering update:
Buried deep in the back of the bathroom cupboard, hair dye! (circa 1998), some disgusting looking orange bath bombs (ugh), two old hair brushes and a hair clip.  They're all going to the rubbish bin, except for the hair clip.

I hope you're continuing along with me. Do your updates in the comments here if you're linking to your blog, or at the forum if you don't have a blog or want to join in the discussions about decluttering.


  1. Those are good thoughts on perfection. The older I get, the less important it is. I did a serious decluttering about two years ago, and have done pretty well since then...except for books. I keep buying books and I want to keep the ones I really enjoyed. Have a good day.

  2. Hello Rhonda... good blog....great advice.... I am not perfect and not ever striving for perfection.... But I do strive for the best I can do.... you explain it beautifully.

    We had to de-clutter last month to prepare for selling this house. It was hard work and there was a definite completion date in mind. My sister came from San Diego, CA to help do the job. Could not have done it without her.

    Cheers, shannon, Lufkin, Texas, USA

  3. A good lesson Rhonda. After your talk on Wednesday when you told us how you worked at your bread making for some time until you were satisfied I went straight home and started baking. Since you were prepared to work at it so was I and I've turned out some lovely loaves. I also turned out a brick, using rye flour, but I just cut it up into little squares like pumpernickel. Very tasty with a piece of cheese.

  4. Dear Rhonda,
    I read your blog regularly but I never wrote a comment before. My native language is portuguese, and altough I can perfectly understand your posts, it's not easy to me to write a few lines in English.
    I think this text is amazing. Today I arrived home, tired from a long, long, long day of work at office and I asked my self if I will ever have a simple life, with less stress. I feel like I'm always rushing to acomplish most of the things I want. I'm 28 and I want to be sucessful at work. But I also want a simple life, to focus on essential and to be a great spouse and housewife and maybe a great mother in the future. And then I read your post, and I realized that many times I push myself towards perfection. And all the times, I can't achieve it. One of your sentences remained in my memory: ""So instead of concentrating on perfection, concentrate on giving, on love, on generosity, self reliance, family tradition, home skills and understanding. You never know, the end result might just be close to perfect." It helped me a lot. Thank you. :)

    1. Hello Renata, your comment was lovely and your English is very good indeed. It is admirable to have all the aspirations you have but even the best athlete will not win every race they run. Aiming for 10/10 complicates life, and life is tough enough without placing extra burdens on ourselves. Just try to do your best. That is enough. {{Hugs}}

  5. This is a lovely post and a good message even for those attempting to be self sufficient. I remembered suffering from a bit of 'self sufficiency guilt'when I first started this lifestyle when I didn't make the heights I had set for myself.Over time I learnt that if I am doing my best , than that is okay.

  6. I agree about the quest for perfection. Life is for living.

    I wrote a short post recently which was task-oriented and how perfectionism can be a hindrance. It can be a form of procrastination and I have been a brilliant exponent of that over the years - do nothing because I cannot do it perfectly due to lack of time, resources etc

    Identifying your own barriers certainly helps so these days I am less likely to engage in using perfectionism as an excuse.

  7. Morning Rhonda,
    What a great post, perfection, something I have struggle with alot in the past. But since being unwell, I've been diagnosed with vestibular migraines so 7 months of pretty much no work, I have had time to reassess things. In this time I started my blog which I would never have done not too long ago due to fear of what others would think and would it be good enough. Well the desire over road the negative thoughts and has become such a positive in my life. I found your website and a world I never dreamed I'd be content with.

    Also yesterday something happened which made me so happy. We had a call out from my daughters school. A school family had tragically lost part of their home to fire last Friday, and the school was after groceries and linen. Over the past couple of months since reading your blog I have been stockpiling for the first time ever. I went to my cupboards and have 2 full shopping bags ready to go. I went to my linen cupboard, which has been on my decluttering list for 7 years, and took out a bundle. It brought me to to tears, how quickly attachment goes when someone else is in need, I felt so humbled.

    I blogged about it today if anyone wants to read

    I've also put a call out to my facebook community for any donations.

    I'm not wanting praise, I'm just wanting to say I wouldn't normally do this sort of thing as I'd be too nervous. But since taking back control of my house, slowing down, it seems I'm becoming so much more confident and finding out who I really want to be, even in sickness.

    Thank you Rhonda for helping me find my way, it really has been a blessing.

    Warm regards,

  8. That's me! A perfectionist with a paralysing fear of failure. It's actually been easier to overcome once I realised how I was sabotaging myself with drastically high expectations. As a teacher I had no problem demonstrating art techniques and making mistakes, showing the common pitfalls if you will, but it was harder to be that open about less-than-perfect outcomes in my wider life. Since my daughter has come a long I'm determined to give everything a go as I never want her to hold back for fear of failure. You're not really living if you're constantly assessing your chances of success. Sometimes you just need to have a crack!

  9. Hi Rhonda-
    What a great post.
    Perfection is something I struggle with too. When I say struggle...I mean I've identified this in myself and it hinders me. I try to get past it. I do have times when I am frozen in fear. Fear of, "what to do next?" "Will it be good enough."
    I do many things in my life backwards. I do them the best way possible with what I have...but, the end result for me is dissatisfaction. That is very hard for me to write! Perfection is what makes me procrastinate (because I don't think it will be good enough) Keeps me from trying at all sometimes, for the same reason.
    I'm trying so hard to get passed this. Reading this post is good for me-- I know I'm not alone; but reading that others deal with this too and OVER COME very good. (I know comparison is part of the perfectionism too) But that would another post! lol...

    Again, glad to read it. Thank you for writing it.

    My De-clutter post:
    Removed 3 empty boxes from merchandise (in case it failed and needed to go back!)
    Removed 2 large bags of tins for recycle
    Used up the last bit of paint-able wall paper to line a cupboard.(otherwise all of it would just sit in the closet, taking up space!

  10. Good morning Rhonda. I have caught up with you in age today but am I going to party? No, I am going to declutter! So, I'd better get off this computer and get started.

    Thank you for the inspiring post. I have had so many 'failures' with trying to make bread, pasta and a few other projects but they are all learning curves, aren't they? We shouldn't expect to always succeed first time and strive to be perfect. Have a great day!

    1. Happy birthday Chel. I hope you have a lovely day. {{hugs}}

  11. These are two of my favourite quotes about perfection (learned them from my Father) and they have made it easy to face my constant failures without fear and to be happy anyways.

    “Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”
    ― Salvador Dalí

    “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.”
    ― Leo Tolstoy

    I set the bar so low that even an ant could limbo under it and thus I accomplish a lot even when I don't do my best and yet I am rarely disappointed in myself. In fact I am surprised a lot of the time and my life is full of constant little successes. I have a picnic basket with all my childhood teddy bears in it that has been sorely neglected. Today I washed it and dusted the top of the corner cabinet where it sits and now it looks perfect. Not a big accomplishment but I am very happy.


  12. Hello, Rhonda! I have really had to put perfection out of my mind, because it just doesn't happen with a two and three year old helping. At least, my version of perfection doesn't. But, there is a kind of perfection that comes with seeing them help with open hands and hearts that is in a class all it's own, and I love it.

    You can see some of the perfect imperfection at work, and see my decluttering post, here in my blog:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Ah, perfection. It means something different to so many. My husband is a true perfectionist, I think. He gets so swept up in his work that he can, at times, neglect the family. When he is with the family (we have two very young children) he can get frustrated because the children don't behave as he would like them to! He's an amazing man though, and well aware that he needs to change this attitude, so much so that he is seeing a professional. More and more he is enjoying the family and relishing the imperfections that is, actually, what makes our family "perfect".

    For me, I'm a cleaning perfectionist and have really struggled since having children. They are so time consuming at this young age that I can't clean to my high standards so for a time I actually just stopped cleaning! I'm now challenging myself with half hour windows to do as much as I can - my daughter has recently turned 2 so she now gets to watch Playschool once every second day while I rush about madly. Things are easier since my son started preschool for 4 half days a week but still nowhere near my standards. I know I need to get over it!!


  14. My husband has always said to me when things go wrong, "There are no mistakes, only experience". I learnt quickly that such a thing was true and it helps to take the pressure off. Now, I am more relaxed and take most things as they come.

  15. Great post, too many of us strive for perfection that isn't possible. I'm glad to hear you're writing another book! I'm re-reading "Down to Earth" (I first read it last year) and it makes me feel very encouraged about the choices we've made so far and what we can do in the future as well :)

  16. I love that first picture. The garden looks fantastic! I just used your search box to find the reply you gave me back on the 1st of March regarding scale and how to make white oil. I have some new tomato plants going again and some are just starting to flower. I was so sad to see scale again already! I will be making the white oil tomorrow. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge. xx Debbie
    ps I found some sad looking spinach seedlings on the clearance shelf for 21cents each and it turns out I can grow it! It's my first try, but I have already gotten enough for two sandwiches and they are looking good now. :)

  17. I had to smile when I read this as I was planning on writing a very similar post!
    It's very timely for me. I'm a perfectionist and it's only recently I've understood how this has kept me back from doing things over the years. Putting 100% into everything you do and trying your best is more than good enough & that's perfect enough for me. Life would be boring without imperfections, failures & challenges! :)

  18. I have just finished reading "Down to Earth" and this posting and I have to share that for the first time in a long time I don't feel like I am failing at being a club member. It is difficult to put into words: some folks make their lives seem so together and perfect. I feel that I struggle every single day to live according to my values -- and then find I have lost those values in trying to be like others whom I admire. Reading the book has lead me to accept that there is no "right" way. There is no perfect. It is what the individual wants. It is how we envision our lives.

    The secret, it seems, is to envision life as you want and then, as Thoreau advises, "to build our castles in the air and then put foundations under them." That, and his question, "What is your life worth? Is it worth the things you spend your life energy having?" are my interior guide posts. Yet, it is not always in alignment with how I am living because I want to "fit in."

    Yeah. This has been a thought provoking week.... and it is just Wednesday!

  19. Rhonda, The Amish women when making a quilt always make an intentional mistake because only God is perfect.
    I have too many things I want to do in my life to get bogged down trying for perfection. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
    Susan from Michigan USA

    1. The Native Americans also made intentional mistakes in whatever they did , beadwork, jewelry, art. I'm proud to be a part of the heritage :) I learned long ago to be satisfied with the best I could do and learn from my mistakes also.
      Kim from Kentucky, USA

  20. I found some disgusting looking orange bath bombs in my bathroom cupboard, too! Ha! I actually went through my whole bathroom, babyproofing (or, I should say, curious and accident prone 3 year old proofing!) so that we can finally leave the bathroom ungated at night and put away the little potty that was in my kids' room for early morning time, before we get up. Phew! After since the kids went into beds, the bathroom has remained gated-off all night. I can't say what a relief it is to not have to stumble over it at 2 am!
    All medicine and cleaners got relocated to high shelves in the storage room, and tons of old junk got thrown out! Bonus: I discovered about 6 new bars of soap, when I thought we were out!
    De-cluttering feels so awesome. I am one of those who periodically tosses things out. I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting there. The goal is to get rid of every thing we no longer want or need before we move - which will hopefully be this year.

  21. What a wonderful post, Rhonda, and a great reminder for all of us to not give up trying simply because we're afraid of failure. I think that's what I've done with my childrens' books that I have written. I need to submit them!


  22. Oh this is good, Rhonda. For so many years I struggled with this. In some ways I am still working to overcome it. I've been trying to just "jump in" and do new things I am interested in (growing flowers, canning all by myself, sewing, keeping chickens) even though I feel I don't really know enough and will most likely have many bumps along the road as I figure it all out. But, I think that's a good thing. I will learn a lot.

  23. ...perfectionism is one of the -isms I struggled with...years down the lonely line I realized that perfection is largely a "head-theory" provides no nourishment for the soul...I say it again (for myself)...I'm a human being, not a human doing.

    we need wise elders...thank you for sharing,Rhonda

    and I believe that decluttering contributes to this issue in a practical way...

    ...the sideboard is unpacked, cleaned out, and mismatched items are waiting for their removal...

  24. Everyone's idea of perfection and perfect is different. At I sat in the garden on Tuesday, and watched Jarvis play in the winter sun, I thought, "this is a perfect day". The longer I am being a Stay at Home Mum I am finding the less I need and my wants have changed.

    Much de-cluttering has gone on. At a stand still for the time being as Tamika (my 21 year old) is moving out of home this week. Much of our extra stuff has gone into their new home.

  25. Well I have to admit that I am afraid of failure and sadly this prevents me from participating in many things. You think I would have out grown it by now, but it is something I have struggled with all my life. Being very shy doesn't help, nor does being raised on a isolated farm away from people. I learned to like my own company, but it can be lonely at times :)

    I have started the big clean out, and it feels so good to open cupboards and see how uncluttered they are now :)

    Great challenge Rhonda!


  26. Oh dear! I am such a ducks in a row person. Hubby has been trying to tame me of that and taken things I have done all my life: the budgeting and money managing, the decision making. I don't drive here yet. He is really making me let go of having to be in charge or control. He says it's good for me. I think that's why I am behind on things these days. I feel like I'm on vacation all the time! Or nearly. BUT I am more relaxed and I am also happier. More things are landing in my lap these days, but his lesson for me has been liberating and there's less of an undercurrent to get 'everything' done. Now I'm looking for the balance. How can I make sure I'm on top of things I say I'll do and want to to and let go of what isn't really important to be cluttering my mind with.

  27. Great post, it reminds me of something I read on flylady's website: Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.


Thank you for taking the time to comment, I read all of them. Comments are an important part of my blog because they help build a community here.
These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.
No commercial information or links will be published.