Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: P is for Perfectionism

During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

Photo by Lyn Lomasi (Wikimedia commons, here)

If you are a friend, you would describe my approach to details as "relaxed;" if you are a detractor or competitor, you would describe it as, um, "sloppy" or "lazy."  I have many quirky character traits, but perfectionism isn't one of them.  As it turns out, on a boat that's a good thing.

The harsh conditions of sun and salt water make it impossible to keep the appearance "perfect" all the time without spending significant amounts of time and energy polishing, waxing, and varnishing.  We gave up on "perfect" (not that "'perfect" wood trim or shiny hull was high on my list of nautical priorities since it didn't make the boat safer or sail faster). and settled for really-good-but-not-as-glossy-as-the-sales-brochure. That relaxed approach was good enough to protect our wood trim while we had lots of time left over for actual, you know, sailing. Even if I had been a perfectionist before, the sea would have taught me to find a better balance. 

There were other places where the quest for "perfect" would have caused us trouble. The "perfect" boat for us was out of our price range.  So we got a "really-good-but-with-a-few-problems" boat.  If we were waiting for perfect, we'd still be saving up money, and dreaming. Not trying to make all our boat systems "perfect" right away let us move aboard at the marina sooner. And that meant we were no longer paying rent and saving money to spend on either boat projects, or fun adventures. We were living with blocks of ice in the cooler of food the first year while we learned about living aboard and figured out exactly what kind of refrigeration system would work best for our needs.  By not insisting on "perfect" before we left, we were able to start cruising sooner. Although we lived in a bit of disorganization the first year, and improvised some systems, we learned as we went along, which meant that ultimately we were able to make smarter decisions about what we really needed.

You know that quote about how perfect is the enemy of good? For us, life afloat showed us that "perfect" is the enemy of fun. Now the only thing in our lives that's perfect ... is our balance of work to play!


  1. Well, I think this post is perfect! Like you say, I have really been learning to focus on the safety / important stuff; the rest will either get done one day.... or not! - Lucy

    1. I guess you could define perfectionism as just messed-up priorities, yes?

  2. I very glad to know that a shiny hull and sparkling stanchions aren't high on your list, because you won't be seeing them on Tickety Boo this weekend :-)

    I think I have perfectionist tendencies which result in my procrastination tendencies. Or, maybe I'm just lazy.