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(Published: 2009-08-17)

Last week I baked a birthday cake from scratch that was perfectly delicious, but definitely not perfect. It was an old-fashioned 2-layer chocolate cake with a butter cream icing that my guests literally swooned over. The imperfect part is that it was a tad lopsided, and the frosting wasn’t swirled to geometric perfection. Thankfully, I gave myself permission to enjoy the “delicious” and let go of the need for it to be “perfect.” (I admit: I momentarily debated dashing out to the bakery to get a store-bought masterpiece, but resisted. It was a good decision.)

All of my guests requested “a small piece to go.” I happily wrapped up several slices. One guest accidentally left without hers. She was several miles down the road when I called her cell phone to let her know she had forgotten her cake. She turned around and drove back to get it. (It’s really that good!)

Realizing that an imperfect cake could be perfectly delicious (as well as gratefully appreciated, raved about, and subsequently devoured) was a paradoxical epiphany. For much of my life I’ve been on a quest for perfection. Growing up, my goal was a straight A report card, or a perfect one-foot landing of an axel in figure skating. In my retail career I worked hard every season to create the perfect fashion assortment. I wanted to be the perfect boss, the perfect daughter, the perfect wife.

There’s nothing wrong with STRIVING for perfection. The drive for perfection is a necessary ingredient of success. But expecting that everything can be perfect all the time isn’t healthy. Judging yourself (or others) too harshly when we fall short of ‘perfect’ can be a real life spoiler.

In “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron writes: “Perfectionism is NOT a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we ever do will ever be good enough—that we should try again.”

Of course we must try again, and again. But if we want to be fulfilled and truly enjoy life, we must find some satisfaction in realizing that being happy doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is perfect. It just means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.

I think that’s the best way to savor every bite of life.


....but delicious!

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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