We all have that little part of us that wants everything to come out just perfect. Whether it’s a new recipe, a remodeling project, putting in a new garden, or leveling a pool we need it to be JUST RIGHT. The problem is that we focus on the result and ignore the hard work that has been put in. This is where appreciating the effort, not just the outcome comes into play. Try using these three steps for appreciating the effort, not the outcome.
I have lived with my Redneck for less than a year. I am, however, a busy-body and always have tons of projects in my head that I want to see come to life. Just this year, I asked my Redneck for both a garden and a pool. So, of course, he set to work to give me exactly what I asked for.
The new garden ended up awesome. He used the big tractor to plow up part of the yard out between the barn and the woodpile. Then he used a walk behind tiller I think THREE different times to break up all the grass and chunks. All the while, he was pulling out chunks of rock, debris, and dishwasher (that’s a totally different story that I promise we will tell y’all about soon). He spent hours out there, all just to make me happy. Really. It was all for me because the man will be the first to tell you he was born with a black thumb. He could kill a silk plant. LOL
The pool is a Godsend on these hot summer days. I work for 10 hours in a seriously hot factory, with fans that do nothing but blow hot air onto our already hot bodies. Coming home to a huge pool of cool water is so relaxing and cooling after all that. He worked tirelessly to level and get it just perfect, using the tractor and tiller yet again. He hauled in more dirt from the pile down in the river bottom, rolled the dickens out of it with the HUGE yard roller we have and did everything humanly possible to get that sucker level.
The garden is still seeding itself with grass and weeds (because it’s so new) and the pool decided to start leaning once it was full of water to completely repack all the dirt he had disturbed.
I still appreciate all the hard work he put in to make me happy, even if the results are less than perfect.
It’s not an easy thing to do sometimes. Habitually, I tend to get angry when things do not go exactly as planned. I tend to set unrealistic expectations, and sometimes those requirements are just physically impossible to meet.
My specific set of thought processes to try to help me get to the appreciation that I think will help anyone who wants to change a little of their mindset and be more grateful.
I hope these three steps for appreciating the effort and not the outcome make a difference in both your perspective and relationships.
Were my expectations realistic?
Sometimes we just have to step back and ask if the picture we had in our heads was even possible in the first place. Setting yourself up to accept nothing less than that perfect vision in your head is just asking for trouble. If you can look at the project/task in a different light, maybe you can see that the outcome was doomed to never measure up in the first place.
We all have that one unrealistic expectation in our minds. Mine is that I should always be busy and be working on something. If I’m not, I feel unproductive and like a failure at life on a whole. Redneck creates a massively large to-do list almost daily, and even though there is absolutely no way one person can complete the entire list in one day, he feels like a failure when something goes unchecked off.
Allowing imperfections to sneak in and steal your thunder is counterproductive. Always make sure that you acknowledge what you DID do instead of what you DIDN’T get done.
Did I or the person doing the work do all that they could?
Knowing how long and hard Redneck worked on both the garden and the pool made a world of difference in how long this one took to process through my head. Hours of hot, hard work that I literally watched him do it made me see just how important completing the tasks were to him. After seeing all the sweat, and noticing how deeply he slept after all that work, how could I NOT think that he did all he could?
Maybe it isn’t so obvious in your own situation, but recognizing just how much time and effort someone put into the task (yes, even yourself you tool) can make a world of difference. Accept the outcome of the effort and be grateful that you had the means to do it in the first place. Welcome your creative side, your ability to physically accomplish the task, and respect the fact that you have the means (both mentally and monetarily) to have done it to begin with.
Is it “good enough”?
Ok, at this point you need to decide if it’s going to function as initially intended. I’m ok with the pool being a little off this year, as we are already formulating a plan to fix it for next year. I’m ok with the weeds and grass in the garden because I know how to adapt for next year.
The question really needs to be, “Can I live with this?” and, “Is it safe?” Both are important. The pool is not leaning far enough that I’m expecting it to crash over with one of the kids in it into a tidal wave in the bean field. So, it’s both safe and something I can live with for the rest of the summer. The garden is the same way.
Maybe you just painted a room, and the paint looks horrible now that it’s on the walls. It could be the color, paint runs, stains coming through, etc. The question comes down to if you can live with it until you can formulate a plan to alter it. Or do you want it fixed now?
If you absolutely cannot live with it, or it’s unsafe to keep it in its current state, then you still need to devise a plan to fix it, but now you can plan BETTER. You learned valuable lessons from the first attempt. Take these lessons and do better next time. Appreciate the learning experience.
Appreciating the Effort Not the Outcome
No matter what the current “problem” or “disappointment” is, you can always attempt to learn and grow. Even if you just learn to see things in a different light. Appreciating what effort is put forth and letting go of your perfectionistic tendencies not only improves your relationship with others but with yourself.
I hope these points help you to see things a little differently the next time that things don’t turn out exactly as expected. Having the ability to be grateful to your spouse, friends and family can make a huge difference in how healthy your relationships are. The next time someone does something for you, try these steps and see how it goes. Come back and let us know if they helped!