Progress Not Perfection

(Photo: Laurent Filoche)

(Photo: Laurent Filoche)

These words seem to keep coming at me again and again at the moment, and ones I am very much keeping in mind as new challenges are thrown at me from every angle in the past few weeks.

Being a perfectionist at heart, as I know many of us can be, we want to get things "right" at all times, to the point where sometimes we don't attempt things or let fears get in the way of us moving forward.  

When we begin new jobs and careers, a course of learning, or are faced with challenges or change in our life, it can be rather daunting.  Fear of getting things wrong, or feelings of not being good enough can arise and block us, or even make us run away from an opportunity.    

We all have hopes and aspirations of where we would like to head, however the ego can come into play to try to keep us in our safety zone, rather than take a risk where we may experience feelings of inadequacy for the perfectionist in us.  This can often be a form of control by the mind, and can keep us stuck in old patterns and ways that no longer serve us.     

Although in general once we become proficient in tasks we are expected to perform at a reasonably high level, when we just start out no one is going to have developed mastery at a new skill.  If we aim for some progress over perfection, it can just get us moving in the right direction, as forward movement and practice are necessary to gain any level of proficiency. 

I seem to be talking to many this week who thankfully are putting their fears aside and are being brave enough to just begin.

A friend just started a website and put out her first blog.  A girl I am in a study group was frightened to put herself out there in a learning situation, but she realized without practice she was never going to get better.  Another friend is writing a memoir, but rather than analyzing every part of her story is just writing, writing writing, with the aim of  looking back later and editing. 

Even in forming new friendships and relationships with others, there can be second-guessing over things to do or say, however if you just let go and be yourself, imperfections can actually come across as much more authentic and engaging.  

Or perhaps you are in a situation where you would just like to try things another way... the only way to experiment can be to give it a go! 

Sometimes we may make mistakes, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, because it is the attempt that can teach us the biggest lessons. 

Often our learning curves can be in what we get wrong rather than what we get right.  They are certainly the things we remember and vow not to do again in the future.   Thankfully I believe most people are kind and willing to give people a go, and hopefully be understanding of mishaps in the early days of new situations.

However what happens when we are that little bit older, yet starting something completely new, when we are used to being at the top of our game?  Almost going back to basics and starting again? 

It can be very daunting, but I know many people that are being faced with this challenge right now, mid-life but deciding to turn things on there head and create something different for themselves.  

Sometimes it can be overwhelming and as exciting as new opportunities are, there are times I am sure we all just want to hide under the covers.  However I think if we just pull ourselves back to the current moment and go one step at a time, take everything day by day, and be very present with every situation, it helps us just get going.

We need to remember no one is born proficient at anything.  Even if we have natural gifts these need to be honed and worked at diligently to achieve any kind of success. 

They say it takes 10,000 hours at any given activity to be a master at anything.... that is a long time.  What if we never started?  What if Mozart had never started playing music, or Picasso began painting? To name a very basic few...   The world would have never experienced this incredible beauty.  

We don't need to become a famous artist, sportsperson or CEO though to give our gifts to the world.    Even if we just want to be a great parent, partner or fantastic at our jobs, there is a certain mastery in just showing up every day to be present in our situations. 

So sometimes I think we have to be a little childlike with it....  get back to basics... give it a go, and just make some progress, even when we may have to put on a brave face! 

It would be such a shame to have never have attempted, to miss the joy of learning, had the new experience, or possibly change your life in a remarkable and positive way. 

So lets always do our best to remind ourselves that if we are making changes or learning, of "progress not perfection", and just give it a go. 

Good Luck to all that are making significant shifts.