When you are a mom you figure out pretty quickly that routine is your best friend. You’re not shooting for perfect, you’re shooting for done, finished, handled, and somewhat in control. That’s where I first realized that changing your approach all the time will drive you and everyone else up the wall.

It wasn’t until I started applying the idea to other areas of my life — like my work, my business, even my exercise routine, that I noticed a huge mental weight lifted. As soon as I stopped trying to be perfect and just let go, I had more energy. I had more dare I say it…white space!

So let me ask you…have you ever decided to take a new direction on a project, activity, goal of any kind and when you got too far to back up, you realized that you should have done it the same way you did it last time? Yeah, me too.

Do you find yourself constantly looking for the new “how” to do your everyday tasks? Yup. Ditto.

My question to you is simple. Why?

Why are we re-inventing the wheel every single time we – pay your bills, start a new workout or diet, do our shopping, get our taxes done, get our hair done, clean the house, create products, promote our products, meet a new client?

Well – most likely we are trying to do it BETTER.

And that’s great, but if something is in the “it just needs to work” category — and you are not seeking perfection, then remember there is great power in doing more of what works!

I know…it’s easier said than done. And it’s not a constant. Somethings you DO want to keep testing and perfecting and improving. How do you know when to stick with something and when to test another how?

Pick Your Battles

When Mila was born, it was complete chaos. I felt emotionally strung out, spent what seemed like forever recovering physically, and the constant flow of visitors just left me in a daze. To paint the picture for you–imagine a whining, crying, moping Anne with a messy house and a crying baby. And I remember thinking, why isn’t there an instruction manual or something for this? This … baby stuff!? Why can’t I figure this out? Why does it feel like no one wants to help me?

It took awhile, but slowly over that first year (yeah – I’m not talking weeks…I’m talking the whole year!!!) we all got into a rhythm and finally routines/systems emerged. When things didn’t work, we dropped them. When something did work, we kept doing it…

….like when we figured out a nighttime routine and Mila started to sleep all night
….like when we figured out the right nap schedule for Mila (which of course is NONE NOW)
….and realizing that our time to chill was in the evening, so we decided to take advantage of it!

Here’s the reality: with Mila we knew that she’d keep changing, so our system would only work so long. We let it be perfect in the moments it worked. Of course, I always resisted a little, because it feels so good to have a “way” you do things, but when you’re dealing with another person (a growing baby with a developing mind of her own), there’s not much else you can do..but give in.

What I started to realize, kicking and screaming through it for a long time…is that there is a clear line between what can/should be constantly improved and what shouldn’t/doesn’t need t. And not only that, I was able to apply all this learnin’ little Mila gave to me to other areas of my life.

3 Lessons My 3 Year Old Taught Me About Perfection

1. Focus On Your Reaction

You can only improve yourself and your reactions to the world around you … you can’t change other people or situations usually. When it comes to human beings and getting the right responses, having them like you, support you the way you want, and essentially be who you want them to be, the only power you have is in the way you respond to THEM. Communication is the single most important skill YOU can be constantly improving. But a-ha…it’s not in the what you say, it’s in the how you respond to the other person or situation that can have a dramatic impact on the situation or the relationship.

2. Boredom = No Reason To Change

Boredom is not a reason to change what you are doing. Everything can become boring after a certain period of time. Deal with it. Look at what is boring you and make mini changes if you think it will have an overall effect. Example: If you are tired of your workout, do it somewhere else, get a workout partner, maybe make a new playlist. I often see people switch up their workout constantly…which isn’t necessary. Change your workout every 6 weeks – or follow a program with natural changes in it. The Action Hero Babe training program from Valerie Waters is a great example of a program that you could do a few times over because it has built in changes to the exercise circuits.

3. Seek Improvement Over Perfection

If you are seeking perfection in some area of your life, you may be up for disappointment. So much of what we do and experience in life happens as a result of something someone else does. Planning for the imperfections of everyday life is the only way to keep improving the way you handle life in the first place!

Next time you say, I couldn’t pay our bills on time because X happened or I didn’t get paid X amount of dollars to pay those bills on time, ask yourself if you can put a system in place to handle those bills even at their minimum without waiting on someone else. Sure – you wait for your boss to pay you or the check to clear in the bank, but I bet you could have planned more in advance for that event.

Next time you end up out of the house without a diaper and a wet or worse baby, think to yourself, can I put something in place so I don’t have to pack that perfect diaper bag every time I leave the house? How about I put a bag of baby supplies in my trunk to account for any days I forget to pack the right gear?

Not everything has to be perfect. Sit with that thought for a moment. Let go of the idea that you have to be perfect. Your child doesn’t have to be sleeping through the night by 12 weeks. Your husband doesn’t have to get you breakfast in bed every weekend. Don’t get so mad that you didn’t pay your bills on time 1 month. Don’t worry that your house isn’t as clean as you want it. So you didn’t finish the report until 2 hours before the meeting. So what you didn’t finish that blog post.

Now, I’m not saying you should just shrug your shoulders at things that don’t get done on time or the right way, I’m just saying…don’t go nuts over it. Make a small shift in how you think about it and ask yourself the only question that needs to be running through your head:

“How can I improve next time?”