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Progress, Not Perfection

Sometimes just reading the word “perfection” sends me down a rapid-heartbeat spiral of worry and panic. I instantly envision comfortable fetal positions and/or ways to procrastinate with useless tasks that now seem incredibly important. As an individual who is deep in perfection recovery, I find myself thinking this quote, “Progress, not perfection,” on a daily basis. I know that perfection isn’t possible. You know that perfection isn’t possible. Yet, here we are, wondering if this one thing—which seems so important for us to do or achieve—can be done perfectly, then all of our worries or unhappiness or whatever desired feeling it is, will magically go away. The truth is, sometimes we’re in the flow and things turn out really, really well… and sometimes they don’t. Often, you simply have to take action, even if it isn’t pretty or eloquent or perfect. Not even a little. Can you relate? What goal or task have you set for yourself that you find challenging to achieve or keep moving forward on?

For me, it’s been creating my business website—and more uncomfortable yet—actually telling others about my website… when I’m still working on it. When I’m still uncertain of how all of this is going to unfold. When I don’t have professional photos. When it still (gasp!) isn’t perfect!

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a few deep breaths, move with the discomfort and debilitating thoughts of perfectionism and not-enoughness, and work towards that goal or task you want to achieve? I think it would. Shall we?

This process has been very helpful when I want to abandon ambition for fear of failure. All you need is paper and a pen (a laptop works too; however, research shows pen to paper really helps solidify new brain patterns). Remember, no one else is reading this, so write whatever comes to mind.

  1. Write down the goal or task that you’d like to achieve.

  2. What is your “why?” What makes this important to you? Write it down and keep digging deeper. Get down to the core level of why this matters. If you find yourself using words like “should,” reconsider your goal and who you’re doing it for. It may not be what you want to achieve or what you prioritize in life.

  3. What is one thing you can do daily to work towards that goal or task? Schedule it. You can also think of this as breaking it down into smaller goals. For instance, if your goal is moving your body on a daily basis and you currently consistently do one day per week, then you could practice adding one more day of consistency, or practice spending five minutes daily doing bodyweight squats, push-ups, and a plank. There are endless possibilities and only you know what works for your life. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be progress.

  4. What is preventing you from achieving your goal or completing that task? How can you work through that barrier or challenge? Are you charging right along and have no foreseeable barriers or challenges in sight? Great! This is a wonderful time to think about potential barriers/challenges and plan ahead so they don’t derail you. Or maybe you feel some resistance creeping in? Thoughts of “I messed up this week. I’ll start fresh Monday,” “I don’t know how, so why start now,” or “It needs to be perfect. I can’t share this—what will people think?” It’s all okay. Resistance is your mind’s way of trying to protect you, because it knows you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. It feels those new behavior patterns forming and it’s thinking, “Do we really want to do this? This feels uncomfortable.” For example, let’s say the barrier to adding an extra day of movement is time. Even though you’ve scheduled it for Monday morning, it feels like a drag, and you already slept in and missed it for the third week straight. Let’s brainstorm. Maybe this means going into work a little earlier, so you can leave a little earlier and do your workout after work (if you have the flexibility). Or going into work a little later and leaving a little later, so you can still keep it in the mornings without getting up any earlier. Or, you skip the gym altogether and practice at home by doing a bodyweight workout for 30 minutes to save time. Think outside the box. Anything goes.

  5. Restate your why daily. This helps build consistency and confidence. Whether you write it down or say it out loud, it builds motivation and keeps you on track. “I am going to (state specific goal) today, because (state your why).”

You can do this! It won’t always feel easy or natural, and that’s okay. Progress builds momentum.

I’d love to know more about you. If you feel comfortable, please share in the comments below what your goal is, why it’s important, and what is one thing you will do daily to work towards it.

If you found this post helpful, please share it.

With love, Steph

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