Progress, not perfection

This is my mantra for 2011.

‘Progress, not perfection’ speaks to me of giving up the need/desire to be perfect, or for things to be achieved to their so-called perfection, whatever that might look like. That approach only leads to madness, at least in my experience in life so far. Instead, the ability to take small baby steps towards bigger projects, or goals, call them what you will, one step at a time – relinquishing the need to get it just right, right now, actually frees us up to achieve more, bizarrely.

This applies across all aspects of our lives, potentially. Spending 10 minutes every morning in meditation is better than no time at all, the old excuse being that if I couldn’t do it ‘right’ (half hour minimum) then it wasn’t worth doing at all. Focusing on joy, for this moment, is wonderful – rather than ‘saving’ up time to do this ‘properly’ at some future mythical moment. Taking baby-steps to declutter or clean the house means there is actually a discernible difference being made to our home. Taking time just to see if the curtain fabric I need might be available on a website that sends out free samples, rather than spending entire days trawling around several fabric shops … a few minutes at lunchtime takes me that step closer to actually getting the curtains I need – it might be a dead end, or it might be the very thing I’m looking for.

Sometimes it is fear that holds us back. Fear of being judged and being found lacking or inadequate in some way. Or even ‘hearing’ judgmental voices from our past talking us out of taking the next small step, because that step isn’t good enough – it’s too small, the wrong turn, not the done thing and so on.

So, instead of being perfect I try to ask two questions:  what can be done next in moving towards whatever it is I’m trying to do or achieve? And, second, how much can I do in the next 10-15 minutes? I don’t need to achieve enlightenment today, be the most joyous person I know, clean and declutter the entire house, be the most perfect [insert role] ever. I am just me. I can do one thing now towards what I’m currently focusing on. For me, today, writing this post was that next step, what is yours?


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