Here is my perfect morning routine:
- 4:30am—wake up
- 4:31am—brush my teeth and take a cold shower
- 4:45am—make and eat breakfast, clean the dishes
- 5:15am—roll out my exercise mat, meditate for 15 minutes, and stretch for 30 minutes
- 7:00am—take my dog for a walk
- 7:45—get ready for work and get out the door at the top of the hour
Now, here is one of a thousand variations of my actual morning routines:
- 4:30am — hear alarm go off, hit snooze twice, pop out of bed 22 minutes later, brush teeth
- 5:00am — the dog is whining to go outside, so we do
- 5:05am — dog takes ten minutes to go to the bathroom, then we play one-way fetch around the apartment grounds
- 5:45am — roll out my exercise mat, meditate for 6 minutes because my mind won’t calm down and the dog is putting her nose in my face, stretch for 30 minutes
- 6:21am — make and eat breakfast while checking work emails for no good reason, clean the dishes
- 6:51am — write
- 7:51am — take a cold shower
- 7:56am — get ready for work and get out the door at 8:13am
"Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it." —Salvador Dali
When it comes to the pursuit of perfection, there are no truer words than those uttered by Mr. Dali. As humans, we are fallible beings. If we weren’t, the world wouldn’t be such a maelstrom of uninterpretable chaos.
We wouldn’t find ourselves wallowing in the depths of our most harrowing emotions one day, only to happen upon unthinkable happiness and joy the next.
We wouldn’t have the capacity to live through horrific events, bounce back up, and find meaning in our lives.
We wouldn’t work toward the possibility of some undefined, “better” future for ourselves, our families, and younger generations because that future would be our lived reality.
If we were perfect, life would be linear, flat-lined, two-dimensional. Every moment would lack surprise. We would never have to anticipate or pontificate about the unknown possibilities of the future because the old adage “history repeats itself” would be our second-by-second reality.
The idea of “change” would have no meaning. What is there to change when our existence is already perfect?
But (spoiler alert), perfection doesn’t exist in this reality. We need to accept that fact. Otherwise, the burdens we bear, the roadblocks we come upon, and the chaos that is always plotting in the background will lead to our demise.
The most successful people in the world, whether famous or notorious, are not perfectionists. They pursue the opportunity and possibility to reside at the top of relativity. They can look anyone in the eye, and say, “I’ve done it better than you” and that is the ambitious reality they live for.
Not some impossible perfection, but rather, a plausible and achievable “better than your best.”
"Anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile."
These people are professional adapters. Chaos is their fuel. While others crumble under conditions of uncertainty, they gain strength. They commit to habits that don’t demand consistent schedules. They are embedded in the randomized system known as life and reside there comfortably from one day to the next.
These people are uniquely themselves. No one else can capture their essence. While most people want to form their lives around preset molds like ice cubes in a tray, these folks crystalize from the inside out like snowflakes forming in a winter storm.
These people not only find beauty in the storm, they are the beauty in the storm. Unaffected by the most tumultuous circumstances, they calmly float along the shifting winds and make the most what is offered to them.
This is all to say, stop pursuing that perfect lineup of habits and schedules. Remember that routine I laid out above? Those perfect 3.5 hours before I deal with more common daily happenings like the 9–5 grind? I have never, not once, achieved exactly what that schedule calls for.
If I spent each day neurotically focused on getting every last minute of my morning perfectly lined up with how I have it written down on paper, I would be the most unapproachable human on this planet.
Obsessing over the unreachable goal of perfection would drive me away from the world around me, view every nuance as a death sentence to my dreams, and shut out everyone I love because they are a burden to perfecting my system of living.
To be perfect is to be stale, robotic, and disconnected from the human experience. It is one of the most worthless pursuits out there, so please, to hit it home one last time, stop looking for perfection. You won’t find it and you don’t need to.
Take on habits that can transform like an amoeba, undeterred by the randomness of life. Once you focus on this multi-dimensional thinking, you will find comfort in the complexity of life, and, ironically enough, view the world as a rather simple place.