"Perfectionism" and Prosperity

RareFaith-perfectionism

We live in a time when life comes at us faster than it ever has in the history of the world. We get stressed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Under these pressures, it is hard to remain calm… the state of mind necessary to live in harmony with the universal laws of success. Often we get discouraged and lose faith, simply because we spend so much time beating ourselves up for our flaws.

To qualify for the blessings we’re praying for requires a calm and confident state of mind. But when we’re disappointed in ourselves, it is tough to have faith. The problem is, so long as we’re not perfect, there’s always something to be disappointed about. So what do we do about that? How can we have peace of mind when we’re so imperfect? How can we achieve prosperity so long as we fall short of perfection?

Do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No.

In my book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Money Matters, I talk about how I had a perfectionist mentality for many years, until, after I married and had children I discovered to my dismay how literally IMPOSSIBLE it is to be perfect, even when you give it all you’ve got.

For a simple example, I’d make a commitment to study a certain amount each day or week, and I’d sit down to read… just as a baby in the other room would wake up and start to fuss. Or, I’d get the kids to bed and open my books just to hear some crying and then one of the toddlers would throw up.

It seemed that something always got in the way of my ability to make a commitment to myself and keep it. I had gotten pretty good at “self-mastery” before starting a family, but all that changed after the first baby. No longer did I have much say in how my time would be spent, even with all of my good intentions of living a disciplined, structured life.

Finally, one day I surrendered in despair. I realized I had become a cranky, sloppy person with the utter inability to finish anything I tried to start. Anything that did get done was done half-shod. I collapsed in tears and expressed to God how sorry I was that I was such a failure. I was devastated and confessed that I was doing the best I knew how, and that as poorly as I was doing, it was all I could do.

For the first time in years I felt Him really smiling down on me. It was as if He was saying, “FINALLY you realize your dependence on me! NOW we can proceed!”

Everything changed after that. How does this lesson apply to me now? I still have all the interruptions that come with family life… even more now than ever. In fact, a paper airplane just hit me in the head and I’m not even kidding.

I don’t have time to plan, prepare, and execute much of anything as perfectly, professionally, or impressively as I should. Let’s say I’m selling something, and if doing the presentation poorly could cost me the deal, I have two choices. I can either think “oh, dear… I did such a bad job” or I can think, “that’s just going to have to be good enough.”

Which mentality will bring success? Which mindset leads to prosperity?

Now that I know my best is never going to be good enough, and now that I know that God understands and is okay with that (so long as I really try), I rely on Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies. When I’m trying to do a good job and I blow it anyway, I think of Him and pray that He can make something useful out of my less-than-perfect efforts.

So long as I have believed that, I’ve seen miracles.

So then, do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No. We will not live the principles perfectly, no matter how hard we try. BUT, we can think of God when we come short, and pray for mercy.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, my husband and I made the mistake of trying to purchase multiple investment properties at the same time. The underwriters on every one of those deals became uneasy when they realized what we were trying to do. The first home went through relatively easily, but the second was more tough. The underwriters kept coming back with more unexpected hoops that we had to jump through, including having us show larger amounts available in certain accounts than what they had originally requested, as well as proving that those funds had already been seasoned for so many months, etc…

Each time we managed to jump through one hoop, they came back with yet another and another and another. Originally they only needed to see X amount in the bank and 3 months of payments in reserve. Then, seeing us as a risky investment, their requirements increased to something like X times two and 6 months in reserve, which eventually turned into a required 12 months in reserves plus a letter stating we weren’t accruing more liabilities, even though they already knew we were. It seemed as though they had long since decided not to extend the loan and were hoping we’d just give up.

After meeting their newly imposed requirements over and over, it eventually became impossible to do the next thing they asked. We were so weary that we were ready to just let it go. We had done all we could do. Then a simple thought came to mind: we don’t have to come up with all that extra money and we don’t have to do everything they are asking… all this would take is for one person in underwriting to simply have a change of heart.

Suddenly it all seemed so simple, because it was going to be so much easier for us to pray for one person’s heart to change, than to pray for another $40,000 (or whatever it was – I can’t remember) to show up in our account by the next day, WITH proof that it had already been sitting there for several months, which would have been impossible to do.

Having finally come to peace with giving it our best and letting go of the outcome, we emailed to let them know that we would not be providing them the proof of the additional unexpected funds they were requiring.

The next day, our loan officer called and said that there was only one final token request (something insignificant), and it would be a done deal. There was no more mention of the large sum of money they had wanted before. It all finally went through.

The point? “You need not run faster than you have strength.” When perfection is impossible (and it always is), God can make up the difference if you will ask for His help and then believe in Him. Do your best to only ask for those things that would be in your best and highest good, and then trust Him. (More on that…)

A woman prayed: “Dear Father, I’ve been doing really well today… so far I haven’t yelled at the kids, cussed, thrown anything around in anger, overeaten, overspent, or overlooked my responsibilities… I haven’t watched too much TV, nor driven too fast. I’ve been good natured and cheerful to everyone around me… But Father, it’s morning and time for me to get out of bed. From here I’m really going to need your help.”

That’s what it comes down to: reliance on that higher power. If you choose to believe that somehow, God makes up the difference between your efforts and what’s required, then it’s that very belief which puts you in the right state of mind to receive the blessing… even when you don’t “deserve” it. In all honesty, none of us really “deserve” it. Only by the grace of God are we even breathing. So, to reach our goals, what does He require? Belief. Belief that He has a way to make up for our failings, and asking Him to help.

So, believe you can achieve your ideal life. Do what you can, and then when needed, say to yourself, “this is just going to have to be good enough.” Can you see how thinking this way is in harmony with the laws of success? If we think we aren’t doing well enough, and if we think that our inadequacy will prevent us from succeeding, then we’re right. Trust God to fill in, believe that He will, and you can succeed.

I just got hit in the head again. I’ve tried to edit this article as I’ve gone along, and now that I’m at the end I really should run through it one more time to make sure it comes across the way I wanted it to, and make sure the sentences are readable and flowey, but a precious little 5 year old has been trying to get my attention for more than two hours, so… it’s just going to have to be good enough.

Originally published February 7, 2005

Added August 8, 2015: Those of you who have been following me for a few years know that those real estate investments didn’t go so well! So yes, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Here are some related follow-up articles that you may find interesting:

Gurus are Human
Human Empowerment, In Perspective

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Are You Making it Harder Than it Has to Be?

When making a phone call, if you dial the numbers right, it works. Children who have never used a phone often have trouble making it work right for a while, just as we can have trouble making the laws of success work to achieve our goals.

It takes practice!

When a goal doesn’t happen the way you expected, it’s easy to get discouraged. That IS the COMMON thing to do. The uncommon thing to do is brush yourself off and ask the hard question:

“Where did I go wrong? What more do I need to know? In what way am I making this harder than it has to be?”

Most people ask those questions, rhetorically, but not with a real intent of finding answers. And in fact, sometimes they don’t WANT the answer, because it’s just easier to say, “That law of attraction thing doesn’t work.” Truly, it’s easier to blame our failure on things outside of ourselves.

On the other hand, uncommon people ask hard questions with a firm intent to find the answers. They seek for answers, even if it means they have to admit that there may be more to learn.

Uncommon people get uncommon results. Uncommon people enjoy an uncommon lifestyle. If they ask hard questions and find answers, then next time they pursue a goal, they can apply new understanding, and get better results.

Or not…

Here’s why: For me, this question / answer / new attempt process happened HUNDREDS of times before I actually saw it really work even ONCE. I know hundreds of ways it DOESN’T work. Each failed attempt showed me something else that I needed to tweak about my approach.

Think about it… The first time a kindergartner tries to use the telephone, chances are good that s/he will dial the number wrong. When that happens, it would be foolish to say, “This phone doesn’t work!” The PHONE works fine. The user just needs to be extra careful to dial ALL the right numbers, in the right order, with no extra numbers inserted along the way.

The law of attraction works FINE. You’ve just got to be careful to dial ALL the right numbers in the right order, and not insert any extra ones along the way. When you do it right, it unfailingly works the way it should.

And the good news is that when you see it work once, you gain confidence, and eventually realize that it can work for you EVERY time. In fact, it can become second-nature, just like using the phone. Then, after experiencing some success, you discover that it can even be easier than THAT… like discovering the redial button.

But I have some BAD NEWS…

The one element that does NOT go away, no matter how slick you are, or how smart you get, is the TEST to exercise faith when all appearances indicate impending disaster. Yes, no matter how good you get at the process, and no matter how much money you make, you’ll always get plenty of opportunity to exercise faith, make sacrifices, and stretch yourself OUT of the comfort zone to accomplish the next goal.

You just get to a point where you learn to accept the difficult nature of the process. Sorry to burst your bubble.

The knowledge I share here does not avert the challenges, it just gives you the power to overcome them when they show up… the power of subconscious goal achievement in spite of difficulty… the power to have PEACE of MIND through the process.

And yes, you CAN HAVE your victory. You can have the MONEY you need. You can find the job, or succeed in business… You can have the FREEDOM you seek!

Just try again, and learn from your mistakes. That’s how you win.

Find out what else you may need to know, so that you can achieve that oh-so-elusive goal. I want to help. Read the Jackrabbit Factor story free, so I can reveal the common mistakes people make with the law of attraction; or if you’re ready for more advanced answers, start the 12-week Mindset Mastery Program.

You can succeed!

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Why the Sparkly Mountain

My family spent a week pulling a trailer to various places between Mesa, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah for spring break when the kids were younger.

Oh, I could write volumes on the shenanigans we experienced, but for the sake of this post, I’ll try to keep it to one point.

We had just spent an entire day trying to get from Mesa, AZ to Goblin Valley, Utah, not really comprehending how unrealistic such a jaunt in one day really was.  After missing our turnoff in Flagstaff (add 3 hours to the trip because of the unscheduled stop at the meteor crater on the way to Albuquerque), our hope was to reach Goblin Valley, Utah before the RV park closed at 10 pm.

On the map, there’s a nice little road from Mexican Hat, straight up to Hanksville, which is only a little ways away from Goblin Valley.  By the time we reached Mexican Hat, it was clearly impossible to hope for a 10 pm arrival; we’d be lucky to get there before midnight.  I just prayed that the gate would remain open for us by some fluke, so we pressed on.  We had already paid for the first night, and I wanted to benefit from it.

(Do all you CAN do, and expect things to work out for you in the end, right?)

When we reached the turnoff outside of Mexican Hat, there was a large, obnoxious sign that said we’d be stupid to drive that road with an RV.  It was small with switchbacks and although I was anxious to get to Hanksville, we decided it would be smartest to go an extra 40 miles out of our way through Bluff and Blanding instead.

Here’s a street-view Google image showing the sign, which we saw in the dark:

to-hanksville
10% GRADES /  5 mph SWITCHBACKS / NARROW GRAVEL ROAD /  8 MILES

By 1:00 in the morning, we finally rolled into Hanksville, exhausted and grateful that we were there in one piece.  It had been a lonely, dark, unpredictable and nerve-wracking road with our long and heavy trailer.

We slept at a gas station in Hanksville, and in the morning, headed down highway 24 towards Goblin Valley.  Happy to be close to our destination and well rested, we excitedly told the kids we were almost there.

(To this point, the destination was still a secret.)

About 20 miles out of town, my son saw something sparkly spread across the hills on our left.  I looked, and was amazed at its beauty – it looked like it was covered in hundreds of yards of gold.  I knew it couldn’t possibly be, so I just assumed it had to be pyrite (fools gold).

Unexpectedly, the glitter ended with the next hill.  “Shoot!” We thought, “we should have stopped to see what it was and take some home with us!”  But our trailer was too large, and we were too long to turn around on the narrow 2-lane road, so we just pressed on.

Around the next corner, my husband thought he saw some more on the right side of the road and quickly pulled off to take the opportunity.

But it only took a moment to realize that the solid-looking shoulder was deep and soft from rain the day before.  He gunned it to get back on the road, but it was too late.  We were stuck.  Stuck on a road that sees a traveler only once in a very long while.

Long story short, a group of college kids eventually saw us, turned around, and stopped to help in vain (to my oldest son’s amusement, one happened to be from the same high school as he attended, 550 miles away).  Then a man in a truck stopped, and went into town to get a chain.

With everyone pushing, and the man with the truck pulling, we finally pulled out.  My husband ran ahead to thank the man in the truck, who asked us where we were going.  My husband responded, “Goblin Valley!”  To which the man replied, “You’re going in the wrong direction!  You need to take the 24 East, not West.”

Amazing. We were already 30 miles off course and would not have known it for a very long time had we not gotten stuck in the mud.

The college students asked, “Why did you pull off the road?”

We chuckled, “Because we saw something sparkly.”

They laughed at us.

Hard.

We let the kids out of the van to go climbing while my husband drove up the road to find a place to turn around.

You know, sometimes life is like this. 

You’re traveling along in the wrong direction and don’t even know it.  So God allows you to be enticed by a dream that gets your attention – maybe it’s financial freedom, maybe it’s a nice house or a car.  So you divert your attention toward the goal and somewhere along the way, you end up getting stuck.

Jacob and Sarah coming down the hill to get back in the van.

In an effort to get unstuck, you reach out for help, and ultimately learn something that puts you on course toward your ultimate goal, after having been off course without even knowing it.

People looking for more money or a better lifestyle often end up discovering the principles of prosperity and laws of success which apply to all areas of their life, all because they got stuck financially and searched for a way out.

The good news is, being stuck is one of the best things that can happen to you, because it often stops you from continuing in the wrong direction, and opens up an opportunity for you to not only get unstuck, but to get back on course when you didn’t even know you were going the wrong way.

I’m convinced that’s what the “glitter” of life is really for. 

“Materialism”, being too consumed with material things, isn’t all bad, because if it gets your attention, and if your heart is in the right place, it can lead you to answers you don’t even know you need.

For more help on getting unstuck, prospering your family, and turning your life around, visit ProsperTheFamily.com.

PS. I’ve since determined that the mountain was probably covered with of Mica or Gypsum.

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Why I Needed to Have a Bad Day

A number of  years ago I was having a particularly horrible, edgy day. I was angry at everyone, and everything around me. Even things that weren’t all that bad felt intolerable. I don’t even know what originally set me off, but I was totally out of emotional control.

And then the final straw: doggie poop in the back yard.

That was it. We had already had a pow wow with our children the month before, and the deal was agreed: they needed to pitch in on his poop and start caring for him without being reminded, or we’d need to find him a better home. Don’t judge me.

With seven children between the ages of 3 and 17, surely one of them would care enough about keeping our basset hound to show some initiative.

But unfortunately, it had been about four weeks, and only once had one of the children cleaned up his poop independently.

He was already listed in one classified ad, and we had received two calls up to that point. But we also had a list describing the perfect home (it would need to be a step up), and we weren’t going to give him away unless we found a home that matched the list.

But on this day, I was especially upset about the poop and determined to place another ad to speed up the process. My 14 year-old son saw me typing furiously on the computer and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Placing another ad for Charlie.”

“What?!” He was devastated. He couldn’t believe I was actually going to go through with it, and was horrified to find out this wasn’t my first ad. Finding no sympathy from me, he stormed out of the house to cool off. Naturally, I felt horrible. Total mom failure.

But a few days later I found out how God used me, even though I was a mess, to accomplish his purposes:

On the day I placed that ad, my younger ten year old son was across the neighborhood coming home from the park on his bike. His pant leg had gotten caught in the bike chain while he was on a street that we rarely traverse. He was stuck, alone, and didn’t have the strength to pull it out. That’s when my 14 year-old wandered into that remote area of the neighborhood, just looking for some time away from his cranky mother. But in reality, he was being LED to rescue his brother, and didn’t even realize it.

Now, I don’t think God purposely ticks me off so he can set up a rescue; but he does know me, and he knows my weaknesses, and miraculously, and mercifully, he even uses my weaknesses to accomplish his purposes. Knowing this helps me feel like everything is going to turn out okay, if I just keep trying and trust that the Lord is in the details, even on the days when I’m at my worst.

Think about that: perhaps all is NOT lost when you feel like a failure; in fact, I’m certain that quite often, there is more good that comes out of those experiences than we realize.

So keep your chin up, and if you want to learn more about how you can get really great results in spite of yourself, find out how in the Mindset Mastery Program. You really don’t have to be perfect to enjoy wonderful results. Originally published November 6, 2009

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