DAY 11: Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
I don’t know about you, but I can be really hard on myself. If I can’t do something and do it well, I don’t want to do it at all. While I know this is really silly, it has prevented me from growing in certain areas of my life. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, I have now committed to accepting failure and using it to show me areas I need to improve. Just like failure is inevitable if I quit, progress is also inevitable if I commit to improving. However, this requires a complete mindshift that focuses on progress instead of perfection.
For years, everyone at our gym talked about how much they loved Steve’s kickboxing class. So, I decided to give it a try. Steve had taught it for over 20 years but I was never a class person so I was super hesitant to even try it. I finally gave in and I hated it! I hated every excruciatingly painful and awkward moment of it. Why? Because I stunk at it.
While everyone else was jabbing, I was crossing. When people were kicking with the right foot, I was kicking with the left. To make things worse, watching everyone around me following along so easily and having so much fun made me feel like even more of a failure. I never took it again.
Fast forward 10 years, I had an epiphany. First, I realized my expectations were not realistic at all. I was comparing my first experience to everyone else’s years of experience. How silly is that?
Second, I realized I would never like anything I was bad at. But, how could I get better at something without practice? I couldn’t. So, I decided to change my reaction to failure. I showed back up (10 years later) and committed to taking kickboxing again no matter how bad I was at it or how frustrated I would get. I went in prepared this time with realistic expectations, knowing I was going to stink at it, but I committed to working on it.
Practice Makes Progress
Now, several years later, I am pretty good at kickboxing. I can see noticeable improvements like getting the routines so much quicker, being able to keep up, and no longer punching like a girl. LOL! When you focus on progress over perfection, you have a lot more fun because you are celebrating all the small victories and improves as you go.
Anything that is good for us is worth the commitment. In fact, some of the most rewarding things in life are hard at first, like learning to ride a bike. The apostle Paul knew this better than anyone saying, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up..” He knew what it felt like to fail. He continued to press on even though he was thrown in prison, rejected and ridiculed.
Do you ever get tired of trying? Do you have a tendency to focus on perfection more than progress? If so, it’s time to change your mindset. Expect to mess up and even expect to not like it (whatever your “it” is) at first, but commit to practicing it as long as it takes to improve. “For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up“.
Progress Over Perfection
- List at least 5 things you are not doing or don’t want to do because you know it will be hard or you aren’t good at it. List more if you can but I’m hoping 5 will get you going and force you to dig a little.
- Agree to not avoid these things anymore.
- Make a commitment to focus on progress over perfection.
- Write it down somewhere to remind you of your commitment.
Scripture of the Day
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Mantra of the Day
I can change. I will never be perfect, but I can, and will, improve. I will likely fail, but I can, and will, fail less. I will want to quit, but I can, and will, keep trying. – Bonnie Pfiester
Richard Gordan Cantner
Great. I am learning by reading and watching. I am almost 75 so it is a little tough for me to do many of the exercises but I am trying.