The Happy Perfectionist

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed..  Ecclesiastes 4:9  (NLT)

This Labor Day weekend Susan and I, with some trepidation, made the trek up north to check on our vacation home.  We had the place rented out this past year and our renters moved out the end of August.  Having not been there for some time and only been limited as landlords to periodic reports; we came armed with cleaning supplies, tools and our sleeves rolled up to spend the weekend working. 

When we drove up the driveway and walked through the front door all our fears were allayed.  We were pleasantly surprised to find everything in good repair, the furniture and furnishings back in their proper places, and the house well cleaned and vacuumed.  Even the garage was swept and clean the way we had left it and the lawn mowed.  It was as if no one had ever lived there.  What a joy!  And blessed are the responsible renters for they shall inherit their full damage deposit!

Joy and perfectionism are infrequent companions and the term the “happy perfectionist” is for the most part an oxymoron.  Those like me with the perfectionist gene know that perfectionism is a hard task master.  Unfortunately the more afflicted a person is with perfectionism the more unlikely they are to be satisfied that things have met their expectations.  And by the same token the less likely they are to be happy with the result.  Thankfully however, I can say that I was a happy perfectionist with how we found our home.

There are typically only two times when a perfectionist is truly happy.  First when they complete a task that measures up to their high standards of excellence and fully meets their expectations.  And second, when someone else completes a task that measures up to their high standards of excellence and fully meets their expectations. 

This Labor Day weekend experience has underscored for me something I have learned about perfectionism.  It is easier and more preferable to be a happy perfectionist when someone else does the work that meets your expectations.  And it is most certainly a less stressful and less exhausting process.  Especially when you don’t have the inclination, energy, time and/or skill set to do it. 

And here is a similar lesson I have learned as a perfectionist.  Some jobs or projects will meet your expectations only if you engage someone else’s help – preferably an expert.   On too many occasions I have set out to accomplish a task for which I was ill equipped, only to end up utterly frustrated in unmet expectations.   I realized that pride in not asking for help and my Scotch aversion to spending money to hire someone, were robbing me of the joy of a job well done.

As much as we perfectionists hate to admit it, being truly happy as a perfectionist depends on the good will, grace and giftedness of others.  It is therefore worth the time to ask God to link you with people who will help you meet your expectations.  Our renters were people whom we felt were God’s provision in answer to our prayers.  As a Godsend we should not have been so surprised at how wonderfully things turned out, benefiting both them and us.  It certainly illustrates the point that when God supplies the right people, the result does approximate happy perfection.

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