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  • Donna Weeks

Progress Not Perfection

Ever have one of those days you can’t seem to get out of your own way? I’ve been having several of those!! It’s like you have all these great ideas, inspiration and motivation, you know the next right thing to do and yet it all goes down the crapper real fast!

For example, the other day I woke up very early and was surfing the web for ideas on how to write an e-book (doesn’t everyone do this when they can’t sleep?). I listened to YouTube videos, random free webinars and reviewed Amazon pricing for e-books. I am embarrassed to say I spent way too many hours doing this, thinking, I will find the answer to all my problems on the web and I’ll be able to whip out an e-book in 3 days flat! In fact, I am dead certain I can make this happen (one point I should make perfectly clear is, I’ve never written a short story, e-book or even a magazine article, just a few blog postings).

Each morning I would pour myself a delicious cup of coffee, re-read and edit what I wrote the day before, write some more content and keep creating my e-book. I was good to go! The problem started on day 2. I had already created my outline and some great content on the first day and on day 2, I ended up researching more, writing more details and thinking more about what I wanted to say which created more and more questions. The more questions I had, the more time it took away from the actual writing of my e-book. As this progressed into day 3, I became stressed, agitated and panicked because all I wanted to do was complete this e-book in 3 days!

After 5 days of the same routine; get up, make my coffee, edit, re-write and create, I had gone from motivated with high spirits to questioning why I started this in the first place. I was completely overwhelmed, my thoughts were speaking loudly in my head saying, “I’m not good enough”. I was comparing myself to all the amazing writers on Amazon (aren’t all published authors on Amazon?) and feeling lost and hopeless. Like, I’m never ever going to be a published writer, have a thriving coaching business, live the life I want, lose 20 pounds (I might as well throw that in there too) and who would listen to me anyway. I’m a big fat loser with the BIG “L “, smack dab in the middle of my forehead!

The thing is, I was so caught up in the “end result”, finishing an e-book in 3 days, I lost all perspective of what I was trying to accomplish. I became competitive with myself and believed I had to reach this unattainable goal with expectations of achieving it. I also learned, through this ugly process, I actually wasn’t prepared to do that and it was unrealistic. I struggled to recapture the excitement and motivation I began with to keep me on the path of writing an e-book. The glory of achieving my goal was but a glimmer of what could have been.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Simply, our focus isn’t where it needs to be. We need to focus on the progress we made not perfecting everything little thing we’re doing. How do we do this? The first step is in changing your mindset. Many of us, while attempting to reach our goals, take on a perfectionist attitude, thinking this will help us to achieve our goal and thus succeed. However, the opposite is often true. Perfectionism most of the time, at least in my life, gets in the way of achieving my goals. I didn’t know this about myself, but I’ve learned, it sure does!

Perfectionism looks like this:

  • Hyper focus attention on details, which takes more time and energy and eventually wears you down.

  • Staying stuck doing the same thing over and over again with no new results. You lose the ability to be aware and open to other possibilities.

  • When you start to fall short of the intended goal, your inner judgmental voice starts to throw critical comments your way creating a never-ending battle in your own mind. This assault on yourself can lead to abandoning your project. It can be so devastating it may leave you with a sense of never having the ability to realize your goals.

  • Perfectionism can also lead you into the thinking of black and white, all or nothing, fail or succeed, win or lose. There is no gray area, so you may feel like you’re on a roller coaster with your emotions. For instance, if you’re doing well, you may feel confident and encouraged to keep going but if things aren’t going well, you may start feeling discouraged and uninspired which makes it tough to stay the course.

Why focusing on progress instead of perfection works so well is:

  • Keeps you moving forward because you see the progress you made in spite of the challenges you faced. You can then draw on past experiences of successes to move you forward. It can also reinforce your belief you have the ability to change and you do have what it takes to achieve your goal.

  • It embraces a mindset of learning not failure. You start to view challenges as an opportunity to learn instead of focusing on how you’re failing in achieving your goals and it also helps you maintain a mindset of adventure and play instead of being a chore or feel like work!

  • It takes the pressure off you. By focusing on the progress you’ve made you become aware and stay present in the moment. This enables you to feel more freedom and peace of mind.

  • Progress is sustainable, perfectionism is not. Life is ever changing and if you flow with the changes, flow down the river instead of swimming upstream, life becomes easier.

Obviously, I’m not perfect 😊 because I’m not aware of what I’m doing to myself in the moment. It creeps in and I may have a “perfectly” all consuming bad day but there is always tomorrow. Luckily, I was able to realize and become aware of what I had done through my past failures.

The next time you may find yourself trying to be perfect or beating yourself up, try shifting your perspective from perfection to progress. See what one or two actions you can take to solve the problem. Look at a past failure and see it as progress and set realistic goals.

Have a perfectly perfect day!