I got up on a weekend and made pancakes. I don’t make pancakes often so I am not very skilled at doing so. If there’s one thing I’ve experienced making pancakes, though, it’s that the first pancake never turns out right for me. It always looks awkward. The second pancake looks better, and by the 3rd or 4th pancake, the pan is warmed up and things are going great.
Unlike pancakes, I often expect things in my life to go perfectly on the first try. Yet, when I’m learning something new, or even if I’m coming back to doing something I’ve done before, it usually takes me a few tries to warm up. This is true for my yoga practice as well. After years of practice I sometimes I have an expectation that the poses will feel the same at the beginning of this practice as they did when I ended my last practice. I come to my first down dog of practice and expect my legs to go perfectly straight and my spine to stretch fully. Sometimes I’m disappointed to remember to bend my knees at first. My body needs more time to warm up.
Setting expectations of perfection may feel like the right thing to do. After all, I value having a growth mindset and challenging myself as much as possible. But being perfect is often not in line with my real goals for my life – to be effective, or valued, or helpful. I don’t need to be perfect to accomplish those things.
Expectations of perfection take me away from enjoying what is present. To appreciate my experiences, it helps me to put aside my expectations, and focus on being aware of what is actually unfolding. Indeed, the first pancake is often just as delicious as the next.
Questions for reflection:
- When are expectations of perfection coming up for you? Consider different areas of your life, such as work, relationships and hobbies.
- If you did not expect to be perfect, how might you do things differently?
- Instead of perfection, is there another aim or intention that you can set for yourself which would allow you to be more present?
This article was provided by Katie Pizziketti as part of a her monthly series, Attitude for Gratitude, in which Katie will explore using gratitude to cultivate a mindful and positive active lifestyle. Join Katie for practice on Sundays at 12:30pm.
Yoga is a treasured part of Katie’s fitness lifestyle. She uses it to build strength, flexibility, and body awareness which complement her interests in running, weight training, and interval exercise. Katie is using yoga to improve her range of motion and wellbeing in ways which were missing from her other exercise routines.
Katie developed an appreciation for accessibility – creating things that can be used by people of any ability level – after several years of working with adults living with serious mental illnesses and other limitations. Her belief is that almost anything can be achieved with the right attitude (and modifications). She loves helping people find their own doable pose that is just the right amount of difficult. Her high-energy classes focus on becoming stronger and stretchier with a smile!