Let’s Get Okay With Just Okay. Then Maybe We Can Be Great.

I have in my mind a perfect morning routine. It goes like this.

I wake up, spend some time praying and reading, I work out, then write five hundred words – all before leaving for work.

That is it. Simple and perfect.

But I have a newborn. And four other kids. And other life demands.

Recently, I spent some time looking for a perfect beginning to restart my blog. I soon realized that I was rusty and I wasn’t up to the bar I envisioned. Could the same be true for a morning routine?

I read this article about productivity measurements between night owls and early birds and thought, maybe I am a night owl! Maybe that’s it. There may be science behind this, but in all honesty, I was searching for an excuse, or an attempt to find perfection.

I don’t expect this from my art. Why would I ever expect this from my routine?

In her book, The Creative Habit Twyla Tharp explains that it is important to build habit into creativity. That is the biggest hurdle to a morning routine. For Twyla Tharp, the biggest hurdle is getting out of bed at 5 to get to the gym by 530. After she gets into a cab in New York City she knows she’s on her way to a creative routine-filled day.

The difficulty I have with building a routine is that I want my efforts to result in perfect. If I am going to wake, write something, and hope it impacts the world in some way, I don’t want effort after effort to not punch through the ceiling of creative mediocrity.

Here’s what Jessica Abel says about that in her article on perfectionism:

You have to be able to live with the discomfort of knowing what you want to be able to do, and not being able to do it (YET!) and putting it out there anyway.

Authors and artists David Bayles and Ted Orland Put it this way in their book Art and Fear:

Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did.

And goes on to say:

Your job is to learn to work on your art.

This brings us back to the title. Can you be okay with just okay when you are getting in shape? When you lose one pound instead of the goal of five that you set?

This is the part of pursuing art that I am trying to understand. I know there is a way through, where blogs like this will cease and I’ll present you, dear reader, with something of more substance.

Until then, let’s not give up. Let’s battle through the mediocrity to something great in our work, in our routines, and in our lives.

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Are You Waiting For Perfect?

A man in boots sits on a ledge in front of plate glass windows
Brooke Cagel – Unsplash

There have been many changes in my life recently, great ones. They’ve kept me busy.

A new home. A new town, a promotion to a dream job, and a new child. Amazing provisions for which I am unequivocally grateful.

Through it all, I waited. For the perfect post to begin my blog again. I searched for the perfect subject line, moving content, the best beginning, but I wrote nothing at all.

An email hit my inbox a few weeks ago from illustrator/writer Jessica Abel author of Growing Gills and my personal favorite Out on the Wire (which has an amazing podcast by the way). The title went like this – If you are waiting for conditions to be perfect, you’ll die waiting.

Distractions, both good and bad, are everywhere.

She said this in her email:

And it’s easy to look at all those things (any distraction in life) and despair, to think there’s no way you’ll ever get a handle on it all. You might be right. But here’s the big secret to having a sustainable creative life.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

You can CHOOSE your work even if everything else in your life isn’t dialed in.

You have a right and a responsibility to your creative work.

We’re imperfect people with imperfect schedules. Why would I think shaking the rust off would mean anything more than an okay post with mediocre passion for it?

It’s time now to move. For action.

I truly hoped to start blogging again with something amazing, but this is what you get. A resolve to not wait and a commitment to write. Also, an admission that I let the beast of perfection win for a while.

But no more.

In what area of your life are you waiting for perfect?