Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. People seem to strive for perfection, which is kind of a self-defeating endeavor, don’t you think? I say that because rarely, if ever, is anything perfect. Perfection is an illusion and you really can’t chase an illusion.
Striving for perfection is a surefire way to become stressed, disillusioned and even defeated. Being a perfectionist often leads to procrastination because we want everything to be just right — everything needs to be “just so” and it’s never the right time to start, because the desire to have everything be perfect becomes an obsession.
The reality of life is that there is good and bad mixed into everything. Take the artist for example. If he or she wants to paint a beautiful landscape, but keeps waiting for the weather to be perfect, they’ll probably never get that painting done. Why? Because the weather will never be just perfect and moreover, even if by some slim chance it is perfect one day, it won’t stay that way.
Sometimes you just have to get going
Instead of seeking perfection, what we need to do is shift our focus onto progress. We need to desire a positive change above perfection. Rather than having an “all or nothing” mindset, we should strive to see the process for change as the learning experience. How we get there can be as important as where we arrive. In other words, just wanting positive change is a major accomplishment, but planning it out and starting, is as equally important — sometimes, we just need to start the journey, even if things don’t seem like they’re perfect to do so.
Progress, not perfection
A good friend of mind has learned a very valuable life lesson. He is filled with wonderful ideas and goals of how he wants to improve his life. His energy is boundless and his eagerness to grow as a human being is inspiring. But, most of the time, he never started the journey, because he always had a “reason” as to why it wasn’t the right time. Days of procrastination turned into weeks, then months and then years…along the way, he abandoned many ambitions and put new ones in their place. Unfortunately, they too got put on the back burner as he waited for every moment and detail to be just right.
Today, I’m happy to say, he has come to the realization that often, things will never be perfect and one simply has to make the best of the situation and just start — just get it going. His journey’s now are not about perfection, but about progress.
Here are 8 mind-sets and things you can do when you feel pressure to be perfect.
1. Remember that progress is a fluid and evolving experience and not just a process with a start and finish
2. Perfection can be delusional and isn’t the same ideal for everyone. It can actually deceive us. Progress on the other hand is transparent, because we see action and accomplishment
3. Perfection can be exhausting and frustrating, but progress invigorates and inspires.
4. When you feel trepidation in taking that first step on the journey, take a step anyway. Even a small step is progress and the rest usually flows more naturally once you take it.
5. Set your main goals, but break them down into steps or chunks of progress. As you achieve a particular goal, you see the progress you’re making and it helps to inspire you to the next chunk of objective(s).
6. Remember that perfection is almost endless because one rarely arrives at perfection. Along the way, remember that the progress you make now, proves you can grow and improve in all areas of your life.
7. Progress focuses you in on what’s working — the discoveries, the improvements, the rewards and the exhilaration of achievement prove that things are in fact working.
8. Perfection shackles us with time because since nothing on this earth is actually perfect, it’s like being on a dysfunctional hamster wheel and our frustration binds us to a start and an end (an end we rarely reach). Progress though, doesn’t always have to be measured in time, because the journey of self-discovery and improvement can joyfully last a lifetime.
The beautiful thing about progress over perfection is that there is utter simplicity in improving, growing, developing and experiencing. Next time you find yourself too focused on perfection, make the conscious move toward progress instead.
“Perfectionism rarely begets perfection, or satisfaction – only disappointment.” – Ryan Holiday