Confessions of a Perfectionist


The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



This week was my time for posting at Vision and Verb.  I continue contemplating life and what I am learning as I walk this new path of retirement.  Here is a small excerpt of today’s post….



It came as a complete surprise when I realized that I was a perfectionist.  I had been told before, in  jest, that I was a perfectionist.  But I always shook it off and said, “no way”.  I am far from perfect nor do I care to be perfect…or so I thought.  But perfectionism is not about being a perfect person, it is striving to be perfect.  That is the trap.

How can anyone live up to perfection? Oh you try, and try, and try.  But it is just like beating your head against a wall constantly.  One mistake and you go down a deep, dark hole….trying to claw your way back out exhausted and bruised.  And just when you do see the light of day, after working so hard at this perfection, you again make a mistake or someone points out your imperfection or you beat yourself up for not making it to perfection….and once again you slide back down depressed, broken and back to clawing your way up again.

And just when I think I have this trap beaten, and I have made it beyond the dark hole, I find I have only fooled myself into thinking I am OK with not being perfect….and down I go again.  Except this time procrastination shows up.




I hope you will pop over to Vision and Verb to read more about how I am dealing with perfection and procrastination….



Next up on the blog:  Monday I will have a post about Lessons Learned in my garden.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.  I hope you enjoy my latest post.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



  1. Barb M. says:

    Donna, You make perfectionism sound so depressing! I know I’m a perfectionist. Always have been. But, I always say, I try for perfection, but happily accept whatever I get! In other words, always give it your best shot. Everybody know perfection has never existed, except in Jesus. But if you try your best, your results will certainly be much better than if you hadn’t really tried.

    • Donna says:

      Oh no Barb not depressing just realistic finally that I was trying to achieve something that we can’t possibly be-perfect! You already have realized what I am finally figuring out….try your best. Sometimes we push ourselves too hard trying to achieve perfect….and that is not healthy. But I have come to grips with my less than perfect garden and self and have stopped the crazy cycle I had been on. I am not advocating not trying, just be realistic and don’t beat yourself up like I was.

      Thanks for these inspiring words!!

    • Donna says:

      Jean that is part of it too…and why my fear and procrastination keep me stuck. These are all based in fear and usually for me fear of failure linked again to perfection. Vicious cycle, but I am planning less and just trying as I break through the fear. If I never try, I will never know. It is hard but I take it one step at a time. It seems to be working just those baby steps.

  2. Dorothy says:

    Like you, I had never considered myself a perfectionist, but often others would mention it. It was mainly at work, because I felt such a responsibility for doing my best. Then when I retired, I never expected to be labeled a perfectionist (not from the looks of my garden!) but I still sometimes get those comments. I guess I still want to do my very best for even if it’s for the plants!

    • Donna says:

      I can completely understand this Dorothy. I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to do our very best….I just have to be careful not to overdo…usually I would be out gardening after surgery just because I couldn’t stand to see all the weeds…now I say, oh well it will still be there later and my health is more important.

  3. PlantPostings says:

    Dear Donna: I guess, in some ways I have these tendencies, too. In some areas of my life I still struggle with it. But in others, I’ve learned to “Let It Go.” 😉 I’m not a perfectionist in my garden (for the most part), nor with my housekeeping. I was a perfectionist with the house years ago–before I had kids. But then I made a conscious decision to relax my standards so I could be more present with my family. And boy, did I relax my standards! That reminds me … I need to vacuum and dust … no, wait … I need to weed the garden! 😉

    • Donna says:

      Oh Beth you make me laugh!! I am relaxing my standards more as I am retired…I find it not worth my health to stress about things. My garden is a hard lesson….watching the weeds multiply is hard but eventually I will get hold of them….for now I am enjoying the green!!

  4. Christina says:

    I’m much better at accepting my limitations now than I ever was before, but I am always striving for perfection and believe it could be achieved if I just worked a bit harder! My husband sometimes says “if a things worth doing it’s worth doing badly” a twist on the usual saying but if you think about it, it means if a thing is really worth doing it doesn’t matter how well you do it, just doing and enjoying the doing is enough.

    • Donna says:

      Christina you and your husband are wise…I have finally figured this out and agree…just doing what we love is worth it no matter how well we do it…practice makes us better and we have more fun don’t we just doing what we love.

  5. Pam's English Garden says:

    Just read your whole article on Vision and Verb, Donna, and left a comment there. I totally relate to your very wise and insightful words. I am a lifelong perfectionist, but I must add that it does get easier to ‘let go’ with advanced age. Probably, because I realize that I just can’t do it all any more. Well done! P. x

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Pam…I am so glad it resonated with you and you found it helpful. I too am finding it gets easier with age if you allow it!! And I loved your heartfelt comment at V and V.

  6. catmint says:

    Such an interesting post and comments. I think it’s comparing our selves and / or gardens with others that can be soul destroying. And I love the saying of Christina’s husband – a real tonic. Anyway, thanks for a wonderful sharing post …

    • Donna says:

      Glad you enjoyed the topic and conversation. I agree…comparison is a part of it, and is not a good part of it!

  7. commonweeder says:

    No one ever accused me of being a perfectionist! So no transition needed as I went into ‘retirement’. I do the best I can with the information, materials, time and skill I have at that moment. As a newspaper columnist deadlines have to be met. No more agonizing over a less than perfect column. And then I let any agonizing go – because I am on to the next column – or chore or whatever.

    • Donna says:

      Great wisdom Pat. This is what I am working toward. I can only do the best I can at the moment. No agonizing over it as it is in vain!!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Jack….it is great to hear from you. I need to get back around in the blogging world now that I am feeling better, and I especially need to check back in with your blog. You have such gorgeous gardens!!

  8. debsgarden says:

    I once did a blog post with the exact same title! It was a different approach on the subject, but this is to say, “I hear you!” I appreciate your comments about taking time to enjoy nature, rather than rushing to get the to-do list done.

  9. Donna says:

    I am a proud perfectionist. It is actually necessary in some professions. If I make a mistake, buildings could actually fall. Doctors too need to be perfectionists. I would hate it if mine wasn’t. Nothing wrong in striving for the “best”, even if actual perfection can never be achieved.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Donna we do have to strive for perfection especially in some professions. Unfortunately some of us are wired to beat ourselves up when we don’t reach perfection…so it has been wonderful that I have liberated myself. I strive for perfection and to do my best, but I can let it go when I am not perfect.

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