My parents will tell you that, as a kid, I played the game Perfection non-stop. For hours on end, I would be enthralled by trying to get all those little tiny pieces just right, before the timer popped them up into the air.
Fast forward to graduating from college. As a young, ambitious adult, I jumped at opportunities to progress my career forward. About every three years, a new job opportunity presented itself, often in a high-growth field with no blueprints. In my mid-20s, I accepted one job that offered little support or training, but gave me the opportunity to work on big deals with lots of pressure.
In all that rush and excitement, it wasn’t always easy to learn on the fly. I would leverage models already in place, not fully understanding all the inputs. I remember once having to tell my boss, in the middle of a big meeting, “sorry, but I forgot to include taxes in the calculation.” I thought I was going to get fired—though luckily, my contributions outweighed my learning curve, and I learned through my mistake that understanding the details is just as important as seeing the big picture. After that, I made a personal commitment to be “in the weeds.”
Having a family was the other part of my life I wanted to fulfill. So, at age 26, I got married because a boy named Andy asked me. Our friends and family were all doing it, so seemed like the right thing to do. Immediately, I began building our life like it was a checklist of the big, important things. Owning a home: check. Stable finances: check. Kids: check.
But we hadn’t grown into ourselves—we were still curious and exploring so many of our own interests and experiences. Ironically, by trying to rack up the perceived successes of life, we lost the small pleasures we originally enjoyed in each other. We forgot, or else we didn’t make it a priority, to really appreciate one another.
I recently read the goal of the game Perfection, as described by Amazon: “To fit all 25 pieces into place before the 60-second alarm sound, when the whole tray pops up and sends them flying in an explosion of yellow plastic.”
When I read that, I realized that my advice to my 20-something self would be to pay attention to all those little pieces, the details, and to search for the beauty in the small things. After all, that’s the only way to prevent the “flying explosions of yellow plastic.” My 8-year-old self was on to something all along.