Last week, my Passion Planner reminded me that we are exactly halfway through the year. “Go back and look at your passion roadmap for the year, check on your progress,” it suggested. Out of curiosity, I went back to those first pages to see what I had written. I’m such a sucker for goal planning. Surprisingly, instead of seeing my big aspirations, I found blank charts. I guess I was leaving room for some margin of error.
See, the day I started this planner was the night I left Colorado for this van adventure. It makes me a little teary-eyed to think back on how I thought I could perfectly plan this entire trip and all of the unexpected places I’ve been since. Everyone says travel teaches you special things about yourself. I know it’s true. Traveling like this has transformed how I see everything, including myself.
Then I have these moments that take me back to my control-freak mindset. They throw me back into the chaos of a life with no room for mistakes. In that life, nothing made me panic like client frustration, remembering everything but that 1 thing I actually needed at the store, or not knowing the next 12 steps. It was never big things, no. Instead, it was the little things that made me think I was lagging behind.
I brought this up to my therapist and she shook her head. “You know it’s ok to have a margin of error in your life, right?” Then, she offered some advice I want to share with all the other perfectionists out there who read this letter every week. The people struggling to survive in a world bombarded with bad news while you still beat yourself up like you always have.
Doctors make mistakes. Votes are counted three times. Man or machine, we don’t expect 100% accuracy. It doesn’t mean you have a bad doctor. It doesn’t mean the vote count is inaccurate. There has to be some acceptable margin of error because we’re working with so many variables that you just can’t control. We all have to accept things just won’t be perfect, even with entire systems and machines built just for one purpose.
However, humans – these machines made just for living – weren’t designed for perfection. We were designed to be happy. Whoever you think created us did not scribe some plan. They created each of us for only one purpose: to be happy. Not to be perfect.
As people with millions of different inputs into our lives every single day, we’re all going to be a lot happier if we accept that there’s going to be some margin of error. Some percentage of every single day, of every relationship, of every work project that we will get wrong.
Remember that in a life well lived, just because you don’t get it all right, doesn’t mean you got it all wrong.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.