The Curse of Perfectionism

Zen garden in the Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park, San Diego

When I initially committed to starting this blog, I envisioned it as a personal blog that would hopefully resonate on a more universal level. At its core, however, would be my experiences. I wanted to share my life experiences and the things about which I am passionate, many of which have been tossing around in my brain for years. I wanted to return to writing for an audience of more than one person, as my writing since I last blogged in 2010 has been limited mostly to my journal entries. It was time to begin again, with renewed vigor and a head overflowing with ideas.

But then it began. “I have to do this the right way this time,” I thought. “I have to set up the blog properly from the start so that I can get readers.” I started Googling. Suddenly, I was up to my eyeballs in all of the rules of how to blog. From the personal finance blogs, I learned that I my blog should be a “side hustle.” “I could use a good side hustle,” I thought, “Even though I really hate that phrase.” I should monetize my blog – a blog that didn’t yet exist outside of my head. From blogging blogs – yes, that’s blogs about blogging, of which there are multitudes – I read about the endless list of things I should to do before I hit publish for the first time. I should have at least three posts written and online, with two more in the works. Each of those posts should be between 5,000 and 7,000 words.* I should have my e-mail subscription service ready to go. I should have my category structure fully thought out. I should have networked with an entire community of like-minded bloggers who would trumpet my greatness to the world. I should, I should, I should …

I grew up thinking that perfectionism was a good thing. I thought it meant that I was ever striving to be better. Years ago, when I first entered therapy to deal with my steadily worsening depression, it took me by complete surprise that perfectionism was not a good thing. In the terminology of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, perfectionism is referred to as “unrealistic expectations,” which doesn’t sound as nice as a word with the root “perfect.” My very first session was spent recognizing how many times I said, “I should.” It flew in the face of every aspirational poster displayed in my head, and proved to be a very difficult concept to fully embrace. I learned to stop saying “I should” and “I need to” quite so often, but the underlying thoughts continue to this day to push to the surface. I’ve never been able to fall asleep easily on a regular basis, but for the past week, I’ve had insomnia keeping me wide awake hours after I went to bed. My head was overrun with ideas for posts, ideas for blog structure, ideas for how not be awake at three in the morning…

Well, screw it.

That’s what I finally decided in the middle of the night, and I jotted down a few notes that formed the basis of this post. Reaching for Less is a blog about life. Here’s the thing about life: Life is messy. When you’re a person who needs to declutter, life can be really, really messy. This blog is about a journey, and the best journeys are rarely the easiest ones. They can be ugly, and they can definitely be rough around the edges. So too will be this blog at times. It won’t be perfect, because there is no perfect. My tendency is to try to do everything. I think I need to read all of the books and blog posts and install all the plugins and try all of the themes. If I keep trying to do everything that “should” be done before I launch this blog, there will never be a blog. It’s been seven years since my last attempt, and that’s long enough. So I’m going to launch it, in all its imperfection. I hope you’ll join me anyway.

Now that you know you won’t be getting perfection here, what will you be getting? My goal is to share a collection of essays and personal musings, primarily on my successes and failures along the road to living with less. I’ll also share tips and ideas that pertain to one or more of the three tenets of the blog, relevant book and product reviews, a bit of my photography and even a few recipes. I plan to publish twice a week, although that may evolve over time. Come along for the ride, and together we’ll see where the journey leads.


* I have no idea where I got this figure from. I may have been a bit confused in my middle of the night web searching


Disclosure: This blog (ironically, not this particular post) contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a very small amount of that purchase, which I will use to buy a very small part of a bicycle. Or to help pay my hosting costs and keep this blog going. Either way, we both win.


  1. W. Lotus
    March 9, 2017

    Your mind works a lot like mine. I’m glad you recognize how perfection holds you back and keeps you up at night. Recognition helps us diffuse the tendency so we can breathe, for goodness’ sake.

    1. pecenco
      March 9, 2017

      It’s interesting you mentioned breathing, because I’ve actually been feeling out of breath these past few nights, which is both unusual for me, and hard to do while using a CPAP. I think that there are a lot of folks out there trying to find this same balance.

  2. I read in a work development article recently that one of the best qualities to have is the ability to learn while doing. I think that throws perfection right out the window. The only thing I wish I had done is this: “I should have networked with an entire community of like-minded bloggers” But I didn’t even really know anything about the awesomeness of the Personal Finance/Minimalism/Frugal blogging community then.

    1. pecenco
      March 10, 2017

      It was all of the great blogs I’ve been reading that finally pushed me to stop thinking about this blog and start writing. There are so many inspiring bloggers out there to read. The challenge will be to get out of my introvert/lurker mode and interact. Well, and to not spend all my time reading everyone else’s great stuff.

      Thanks for stopping by and reaching out to a newbie!


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