Why Trying to Be Perfect Is a Waste of Time

woman with hat looking thoughtfully over the top of her laptop with her chin resting on her hands wondering if she's wasting time trying to be perfect

You’re trying to be perfect and you wonder if you’re doing it right. The way you stack all the things into your day and hope they don’t topple. The way you climb into bed exhausted and get up early to repeat everything.

What if you’re wasting your time?

Prioritizing the wrong things?

Saying the wrong yeses and noes?

Your life is full, and also not. But you don’t have time to get that honest.

There’s a dishwasher to empty before you pack lunches, start dinner, switch the wet sheets over to the dryer, check the school folders, sign up for that committee. If you’re as easily distracted as I am, you try to do everything at the same time.

No wonder you snap when a kid asks one more unimportant question. Your brain is as full as a mouthful of marshmallows garbling “chubby bunny.” It takes all your mental focus to hang onto that item you need to add to the grocery list before it escapes you.

You fudge a little on how much you sleep because of course it’s not enough, but is there really anything you can do about it?

Just Because She Carries It Well Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t HeavyPermission to Exhale

Let’s sit down, mama. Just for a minute. We both need it.

Your shoulders. They’re strong from carrying all the schedules, needs, preferences, expectations. But the pressure has formed knots that sent pain, dull and annoying, to your temples.

Take a long, slow breath, and as you exhale, relax your shoulders.

You don’t have to carry it all.

Be everyone’s everything.

Never forget a thing.

Show up early and prepared.

Be the last one to complain, ask for help, admit it’s too much.

You don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, as Alli Worthington explains in her new book Remaining You While Raising Them, “A perfect mom would completely mess up her kids.” Here why:

Imagine growing up with a mom who never makes a mistake—someone who is always right, does everything with ease, and has perfected the art of, well, everything.

First off, you would grow up wondering what was wrong with you. If your mom is perfect, why are you such a flawed human being? As a teen and young adult, in hard times, you would struggle to adjust to a world that wasn’t perfect. A world where people were fallible and always made mistakes would be overwhelming.

Here’s permission to stop wasting your time trying to be the perfect mom. There is a whole lot you do that is worthwhile. But beating yourself up over how you’re not the perfect mom only decreases your capacity to be the mom you’re meant to be. The one who apologizes frequently. Laughs freely. Flourishes in her own skills without comparing them to someone else’s.

Quit Trying to Be Perfect—It’s a Waste of Time

Look around and you’ll always find someone doing it better. Sooner. More effortlessly. Her kids are in everything, and excelling. She’s on the PTA and volunteers at church. She cooks only organic, dresses like she walked out of a magazine.

But she’s not you. You don’t know all she’s carrying. The self-talk inside her head. The times she appears on top of it when she’s really exhausted.

You don’t have to keep up with her. You won’t want to. Because the fastest way to waste your time is trying to live someone else’s life.

Comparison prevents us from being present in the life that’s ours to live. Plants names in our head that God never calls us. Feeds discontentment and resentment.

Talking of time-wasters, here’s another one. People-pleasing. Eesh, I know. You’d rather not talk about it.

So I’ll go first. I’m a die-hard Enneagram 9. I like to keep the peace, do all I can to ensure everyone around me is happy. I grab all the forgotten things during dinner and finish eating last. Stubbornly insist I don’t have a preference. Deny I need help. I could chalk it up to Minnesota niceness, but the real truth is that I don’t want to risk letting anyone down.

I’ve wasted plenty of time finishing tasks that could have been shared. Worrying if I accidentally offended someone. Second-guessing myself. Trying to be perfect in everything I do.

Maybe you have too.

The Better Question

When we’re weighing whether we’re wasting our time, we tend to focus on the externals. The activities, commitments, and appointments. Things that take minutes and hours.

But time-wasters have deeper roots than that. They’re internal. Not measured in clockable time but in what we believe is true of God and ourselves.

Let your question of “Am I wasting my time?” lead you to God. He promises us in James 1:5, “And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.”

Instead of trying to figure it out yourself, make a practice of asking Him. He knows you inside and out, knows how and why He created you, and He will guide you if you let Him.

If you struggle with people-pleasing, mom guilt or any other thoughts that leave you at the mercy of others’ perceptions of you, then you need to listen to this podcast episode: Stop People Pleasing Now With Cherlyn Decker – 159

Scroll to Top