“Focus on progress, not perfection.”………….Bill Phillips, in his book Body for Life.
Trying to be perfect might sound good for your ego, but it isn’t good for progress. Many don’t realize how perfection impedes progress and becomes a huge obstacle moving forward. In a workplace especially, attempting to achieve perfection in an already excellently executed task stops work, hinders progress, and utilizes the valuable time of everyone involved. On the other hand, when you focus on progress instead of perfection, pursuing your goal is a fruitful and meaningful result. Focusing on progress keeps you stress-free, motivated, and well in control of your daily routine, regardless of how hard or easy tasks can be.
Perfectionism, An Illusionary Trap
Starting at the top of the mountain is never a way to pursue your goal because try as you might, you will never get there. An unachievable challenge prevents you from taking that first step forward. Unfortunately, perfectionism is so ingrained into the psyche of many that such persons fail to realize how much they must contend with it. In such a scenario, perfectionism and not the daily task at hand is the biggest obstacle to overcome.
Perfectionism is a dangerous mindset influenced by the ego; one sets unreasonable and unusually high standards to strive for flawlessness in every endeavor. It is an egotistical condition that does not happen if we focus more on being of service and the task at hand rather than ourselves. It might seem like a recipe for success, but perfectionism leads to negative scenarios and creates a fear of failure. Like a phobia, it cripples the mind to the point of procrastination and missing out on opportunities. Ultimately, it can lead to thoughts of inadequacy and prevent working towards a goal. Perfectionism will rob you of opportunity, progress, learning new skills, and focus. Besides a sense of failure, it can cause extreme stress, burnout, and anxiety.
How Can You Tell If Perfection or Progress Motivates You?
In a progressive orientation, people often accept negative feedback as constructive data that helps us improve in the future. Instead of focusing only on avoiding mistakes, progressive people go ahead with a task unafraid of seeing mistakes as a learning process or a stepping stone to success. For perfectionists, it is just the opposite.
- Perfectionists adopt an all-or-nothing attitude. It often manifests in negative results, where perfectionists give up if they cannot get something right on their first or second try.
- As a perfectionist, you might be prone to comparing yourself to others, thinking, “If others have already thought of the same idea, what is the point of my doing anything?”
- Being motivated by perfectionism might lead you to fear that your mistakes can never be corrected, and neither will you recover from them.
- Perfectionist always feels their work is never ready or good enough to show anyone.
Why You Should Embrace Progress
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Embracing progress relieves one from the perfectionist attitude, resulting in less stress and anxiety. A relaxed attitude helps one perform better and make correct decisions.
- Increased Motivation: Embracing progress motivates us to progress, with every milestone inspiring us to push further.
- Inspires creativity: Focusing on progress helps us to innovate and experiment with creative thinking. It helps us take risks which might benefit the success of a project or task.
- Resilience: Embracing progress develops resilience in people who do not fear failure but see them as opportunities to improve and grow.
Strategies for Pursuing Growth Over Perfection
1. Take It One Step at A Time: Avoid Drama
Perfection and drama go hand in hand. Before they even move towards a goal, a perfectionist will put forth several questions that are more like obstacles preventing action. Avoid drama and prioritize a task or project one step at a time. Chalk out plans, build the prototype, discuss strategies, and focus on achieving something daily. Meaningful progress doesn’t need to be exciting., but rather should be accepted as all in a day’s work
2. Celebrate Small Wins, Learn from Mistakes
Celebrate the achievements regardless of how insignificant they may be. Celebrating wins motivates you to strive for more and climb one step higher. When it comes to failure or mistakes, learn from them, and treat them as opportunities to improve.
3. Keep Track of Your Progress
Maintain a journal or a goal-tracking app to record your achievements and milestones. Reflect on your progress regularly to stay motivated. With each milestone, explore how to improve your game.
4. Plan Ahead
You might be an organized person, but there are times when things might not go according to schedule, throwing you off balance. We all encounter many obstacles caused by human error, technology failures, and interruptions. Anticipating such potential problems and working in such a way to be ready for them is the key to smoother progress. Chalk out the possibilities that might derail you from your goal, and plan strategies to tackle them.
5. Set A Low Bar
Set a low and reasonable bar for yourself. For example, attempting a 10 km walk or meditating for an hour is unrealistic if you intend to begin exercising or focusing on your health. The easiest way to start any progressive activity is to start small and build momentum over time. Adopt healthy habits to support you in your progress.
6. Learn To Quit When Necessary
It is always tempting to follow one strategy in life or walk a single path, but choose another road when you see an unrelenting obstacle. It would help if you learned to be realistic and practical rather than ideological. Not all goals need to be completed because you will just waste time on something when you could progress further with something else. If you feel you’re spending too much time on something, it may not be worth it, which means it’s time to quit and reevaluate your strategies or goals.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Attempt Something Difficult
Sometimes you might be afraid of trying something because you think it might not be up your alley. Well, how do you know what you’re capable of unless you don’t try? Fear is natural, but avoiding things just because of that is not the answer. Control your Fear because the bravest people aren’t those who don’t feel Fear; facing Fear and taking the challenge head-on makes one brave.
Progress is not always a straight line; it is full of obstacles and sharp turns, but each step you take counts. Embracing progress instead of perfectionism will motivate you to see things from a lighter perspective and make you a better achiever. Learn from your mistakes, and open yourself up to self-growth and more fruitful life.