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Summer Wellness Series Part 3 - Embracing Imperfection

Embracing imperfection: Setting Realistic Expectations 

We're thrilled to have you join us on this journey to wellness this summer! As for me (Daria Palatna, Program Manager at IHS), when it comes to enhancing our well-being, it's crucial to establish realistic goals and embrace the idea of being good enough rather than striving for perfection. 

Challenges of Perfectionism 

The pursuit of perfection can often ensnare us rather than provide a solution. As defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), perfectionism is "a personality trait characterized by a tendency to set extremely high, rigid, or 'flawless' goals and place excessive demands on oneself and others." Bringing perfectionism into our journey toward well-being can lead to several challenges: 

  • Delaying the start of our journey due to the pursuit of perfection, waiting for the perfect moment or conditions, which may never materialize. 

  • Struggling with anxiety and self-blame, especially when we perceive ourselves as not adequately caring for our well-being. 

  • Setting unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve and blaming ourselves when we fail to reach them. 

  • Expecting our friends and family to be flawlessly supportive of our journey, which may not always be the case. 

  • Focusing solely on outcomes rather than enjoying and embracing the journey itself. 

My Personal Journey 

My journey with self-care has had its ups and downs. Born and raised in Ukraine, I served as a social worker and later as a program director of a non-profit organization, both in child welfare. As a leader, I managed to establish a work-life balance within my life and my organization. I trained and taught others about self-care, feeling like a champion in every aspect of my life. When the pandemic hit, I embraced remote work, using the extra time to invest in my well-being. This personal growth led me to leave my job and become a self-employed organizational development expert, setting ambitious goals for my life. 

However, in 2022, due to the war in Ukraine, I lost my home, sense of safety, stability, and any semblance of control over my life. Upon arriving in the USA in August 2022, I found myself starting from scratch in every aspect of my life, facing the aftermath of war trauma, including stress-induced weight loss, neurological pain, and severe acne. My primary self-care goals were simple: to ensure I ate daily and to achieve at least six hours of sleep each night. In addition to everything I was already experiencing, the perfectionist in me felt guilty for not taking better care of myself. 

Currently, I'm in a much better place, and this summer, I intend to set bigger self-care goals. Nevertheless, I'll always remember that life can throw unexpected challenges our way, and sometimes everything falls apart. Even in those moments, it's okay to start over, as every beginning offers the opportunity for growth and resilience. I'm uncertain of the challenges you're facing as you read this and begin your wellness journey, but I hope you're doing well. If not, remember, it's okay not to be okay. Start with simple goals and give yourself grace during crises. 

Tips for Coping with Perfectionism 

After reflecting on my personal journey, you'll see that I'm practicing what I preach, acknowledging the importance of self-care, and embracing imperfection along the way.

Here are some tips that have helped me cope with perfectionism and might help you too: 

1. Embrace the Journey 

Life is a journey, not a destination. For a result-oriented person like me, grounding myself in mindfulness helps. Before setting any self-care goals, start with one of these practices: 

  • Meditate: Use guided meditation affirmations like "I am here, I am now, I am enough." 

  • Breathe: Practice simple breathing techniques anywhere. 

  • Celebrate Wins: Reflect on five daily achievements for at least three minutes. 

2. Start Where You Are 

No matter how low or high your starting point is, remember you’re probably doing the best you can. Continue from where you are with no self-blame or regrets. 


3. Set Realistic Goals 

If you tend toward perfectionism, describe your desired goal and then reduce it by threefold. For example, if your goal is to exercise for an hour daily, start with 20 minutes instead. 


4. Focus on What You Can Control 

The world isn’t perfect, and often it’s not just. Focus on areas you can control—your thoughts, emotions, and actions. 


Final Thoughts 

We believe these tips will enhance your well-being journey. If you haven't already, please register and complete the Wellness Assessment. Stay tuned for weekly wellness resources.  Feel free to share your story at Remember, we're all in this together. 

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