Everybody dreams of perfection at some point in their life. Whether it’s at their hobby, job or relationship. However, this desire to be perfect holds us back in so many different ways. In this blog post, I’ll be using the story of my weight loss journey to show 5 reasons why you need to chase progress, not perfection.
Perfection is a prison, Progress is freedom
See this blue dot. Let’s use it as a metaphor for my life a couple of years ago. At this point, I was severely overweight. Constantly snacking on anything I could get my hands on. It was a truly horrific sight.
I’d always wanted to lose weight but back then, postponing was my best friend. I’ll get to it next week. Next month. Next year. I waited and waited for the perfect time but it never came. Now, I realise that my perfectionist views were holding me back.
See, I had an all-or-nothing approach. If I was going to lose weight, then I needed to have the perfect program, the perfect equipment, etc. Everything needed to be in place before I started. If the running shoes I bought didn’t fit right, then I’d spend the next week browsing online for another one. Did I actually start running? Absolutely not. As you can imagine, my blue dot remained stationary for a long time.
If there is one lesson I could preach to my younger self, it would be this. There will never be a perfect time. There isn’t going to be a divine sign from God. If you want to get something done, then you need to start taking actionable steps towards your goal.
It took me a long time to understand this, but eventually, I set aside perfection and started my progress journey.
Progress is measurable
Anyone who exercises knows the thrill of beginners’ progress. After some time, you start running faster for much longer distances. Lifting weights that you never thought possible. For the first time in my life, the blue dot started going up.
This is where chasing progress shines. Studies recommend using SMART technique as a way to achieve goals. A key element of the method is having measurable goals, where progress can be tracked over time. For me, every kilo lost was progress. Every extra mile added to my run was progress. It was incredibly addicting. However, I started falling into another trap.
SMART Goals – Time Management Training From MindTools.com
SMART Goal – Definition, Guide, and Importance of Goal Setting (corporatefinanceinstitute.com)
As soon as I noticed my progress, my mindset slowly slipped back to its old perfectionist ways. I lost sight of where my blue dot started from, and only focused on other peoples’. I don’t look like them. Run like them. Weigh as little as them. My blue dot isn’t as high as theirs. I’m failing again.
So I pushed myself constantly, chasing perfection once again until I broke.
Progress allows you to fail
After months of constant grinding, of pushing myself to my absolute limits, I got injured. I could barely apply any pressure on my left knee without being in agonising pain. The way I saw it, my dreams of perfection had been absolutely shattered and once again, I had failed.
As I couldn’t exercise properly, I was extremely sedentary for a while. My bad eating habits resurfaced. I consumed calories upon calories. Nothing was safe from my grasp.
What made it even worse was that I completely gave up on rehabbing my injury as well. I just didn’t see the point. I was never going to have the perfect body that I craved so much. All the progress that I had previously went out the window. I internalized that failure experience and I started to see myself as a failure once again.
If you’re curious to know how well you cope with failure, then I’d recommend taking this short quiz! If my younger self took the quiz, he would definitely have fallen into the novice failure category.
Progress is inspiring, Perfection is demotivating
It took a long time to get out of that funk. What really did the trick was switching my perception of failure and perfection. Initially, I saw failure as a bad thing, whilst I saw perfection as a good thing. Little did I know that it should have been the other way round.
Failure is only the end if you allow it to be. There are so many successful people in the world that started off as failures. Oprah Winfrey. Steven Spielberg. Walt Disney. What do they all have in common? They were all willing to not take failure personally. They saw failure as a way to progress, which is incredibly inspiring.
5 Famous Failures In History That You Didn’t Know About
There are so many lessons that can be learned from a single failure experience. Once you identify what can be improved, this knowledge acts as a springboard to boost your blue dot to new heights. For me, I learnt how to train smarter. All the mistakes leading up to my injury became clear as day. Eventually I lost majority of the weight, and I’m eternally grateful to my younger self for realizing that continuing to chase progress even after failing.
Is Failure A Part Of Success? The Honest Truth
Perfection is an illusion: There will never be a right time to start.
I believe that the key to a fulfilling life is accepting that our blue dot will not always be up, sometimes it’ll go down. It may even crash to the floor. However, as long as we don’t give up, as long as we keep trying to improve, there will be upward movement eventually.
What do you think? Have you been chasing perfection for a long time? Does progress seem more appealing now? Let me know in the comments below, I’m curious!
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Have a great week!
8 Replies to “5 reasons why you should chase progress, not perfection”
Awesome article. It was inspiring and I gained a lot from this piece.
Thanks for reading! I hope you have a great day 😀
This is brilliant! I am all in favour of progress over perfection. As you mention, the search for perfection only holds you back! Well done on getting started and making progress.
This is a wonderful read. For many years I struggled with the idea of always trying to be perfect and it wasn’t working well for me. Luckily, I discovered an article that spoke about the very same thing and it changed my life. Thank you for sharing and I hope others will be as inspired as I was and start making progress.
Great blog!!! very inspiring. Love the graphs!
It’s a growth mindset. Always learning, always growing, and you will get there eventually. You’re just not there YET.