Strive for Progress Not Perfection

Taking the time to hike along Fort Hunter this summer, that was a 'perfect' day.

Somewhere between the extended angle and twisted crescent pose, my yoga instructor said “Strive for progress not perfection.” And I immediately fell in love with the mantra. Before hearing this phrase on Tuesday, I would wake up with an arm’s length list of to-do’s that left me racing against the clock throughout the day and berating myself before bed if I didn’t get them all done. For far too long I defined a perfect day as getting everything done on this ever-growing list. But not anymore. Today I’m striving for progress not perfection. Even if I put only a few checks next to items on my to-do list I’ve had a productive day and should celebrate it. We shouldn’t let what didn’t do each day overshadow what we do accomplish.

This new outlook has also allowed me to be more flexible. Before, I would see everything I had to get done and refuse to budge my schedule. I would turn down meeting a friend for lunch or continue to work all evening, completely missing some great opportunities to be with those I love. I now realize that my goal for working toward that “perfect” day was to gain the free time that I would just continue to fill up with work anyways, I was missing these great moments as they flowed right by me because I was too busy to look up from my to-do list. If you spend your whole life working toward that perfect time to take a vacation or a perfect time to spend an evening with a friend, that time will never come. Instead, find a way to make progress each day and call it “perfect.”

12 thoughts on “Strive for Progress Not Perfection

  1. You are very fortunate to be realizing now what really matters rather than down the road another 30 or so years. And you are gifted to be able to convey those ideas clearly in your writing.

  2. I’ve been reevaluating my entire approach to the to-do list. Recently I began feeling that I was more focused on the act of completion than on the task itself: Simply crossing off the tasks and getting to the end of the list was the goal, rather than actually achieving something. As a result, I wondered if I was rushing through each task without doing a proper job.

    I am, after all, one of those people who rewrites her list even after I have finished tasks, just so I can cross some of them off!

    I still believe in the to0-do list, but I’m thinking of giving myself a minimum time for each task each day, rather than a maximum. What do you think? Any other ideas?

    Good post, by the way!

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