Progress Not Perfection

Progress Not Perfection

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash

When you are applying self-help techniques to initiate positive change in your life, they are many times you when you miss a day, because you are too busy, you are in a bad mood, in a low energy state, you are tired, etc.

On such days you don’t follow through on something or you engage in one or more actions that are detrimental to what you are trying to achieve.

Research has shown that about 95% of all people who try to stick to a diet fail, about 92% of all people who set a new year’s resolution fail and about 90% of all people who try to manifest something applying Law of Attraction or other spiritual techniques, fail.

When you are doing anything to initiate positive change in your life, remember it is the progress you make, not chasing perfection, that will actually initiate change you desire.

Perfection is defined as “a condition, state, or quality of being free from all flaws or defects.”

In contrast, progress is defined as “something happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.”

Many highly successful and demanding people have realized that achieving perfection is not possible.

Vince Lombardi, the football coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960’s who won five NFL championships including Super Bowls I and II, who held his players to very high standards is quoted as saying to his football players:

“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection.  Knowing full well we won’t catch it, because nothing we do will be perfect.  But we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, because in the process we will catch, excellence.

Vince Lombardi

Be aware there is a dark side to initiating positive change from a point of view of chasing perfection, even if you catch excellence.

Many scientific studies have shown that people who chase perfection to apply self-help techniques to initiate positive change in their life are at greater risk of feeling depression, anxiety, fear, sadness, other negative emotions and typically experience many failures because they will never be able to achieve their desired goal: perfection. 

It is just not possible to initiate positive change based on achieving perfection as setbacks will always occur in your life.

How long does it take to initiate positive change in your life focusing on progress instead of chasing perfection?

Many research studies have shown that it can take anywhere from about 20 days to about 200 days to create and engage in new behavior patterns to initiate positive change in your life, proceeding step-by-step, gradually in stages.

One research study found that it took participants an average of about 60 days of repeatedly performing focused actions to create a new behavior pattern before the new behavior pattern became “automatic” in the participants’ lives.

This same research study also concluded that missing a day or two, here and there, of not performing the new behavior pattern and starting over again did not hinder the new behavior pattern creation process at all.

Be aware, that initiating positive change in your life is not a “linear” process.  Instead it is an irregular process where setbacks occur and a process where you have to start over again. Such setbacks leave you feeling out of sync.

For example, when you are initiating positive change into your life, you do not go from State-A, to State-B to State-C, State-D, which is a linear process. 

Instead you may go from State-A, to State-B back to State-A, to State-B to State-C, back to State-B, etc. Your change process may actually look more like a spiral than a straight line.

Get additional insights on making progress to initiate positive change into your life from the Out There on the Edge of Everything® Podcast.

So how do you initiate positive change in your life using progress instead of chasing perfection?

  1. Focus on Progress Not Perfection.   When you desire to initiate positive change in your life, you must accept and acknowledge that your journey must be based on achieving progress and not achieving perfection.  Since the process of positive initiating change into your life and the creation of new behavior patterns is not a linear process, you are going to have many setbacks along the way.  You are going to have regroup, refocus and concentrate again on your desired end goals many different times. Look at each of your setbacks as an opportunity for additional personal growth.  Looking at your setbacks as an opportunity for personal growth will increase your self-confidence and provide you with additional motivation to achieve the positive change in your life you desire.  If you focus on progress instead of perfection, you can still achieve excellence in the process of initiating positive change in your life.  Acknowledge and embrace the progress your make in your journey.  Reward yourself when you achieve desired progress steps in your journey.
  2. Document your Progress Daily in a Progress Journal.  Use a progress journal to write out and record record daily all positive activities, actions and successes you have achieved on that day to initiate positive change in your life.  A daily record of your positive activities, actions and successes provides you with at three advantages on your journey to initiate positive changes in your life.  First, it provides a way for you to focus and give additional energy every day to the positive changes you desire to achieve in your life.  The more you focus on the positive changes you desire to achieve in your own life, the stronger your energy to initiate such positive change will be.  Second, it documents the positive successes you have already achieved along the way on your journey.  When you do have a day in which a setback occurs, you can look back at your progress journal to see how far you have come. Third, it provides you with a personal written roadmap of your journey to assist you in understanding what it takes for you personally to create new behavior patterns in your own life and day to initiate positive change in your life.
  3. Create a Strategy to Effectively Handle Setbacks.  Since setbacks are going to occur on your journey to initiate positive change in your life, you need to develop an effective strategy to deal with such setbacks.  One strategy for handling setbacks is to first review your progress journal for insights on why this setback occurred and your positive progress on your journey so far. Then to ask yourself a series of positive open-ended questions and honestly record your answers in your progress journal to gain additional intuitive insights about what caused your setback at this point in your journey and what you need to do to overcome this setback. Your Intuition, your first sense, emanates from the energy of a Higher Power and provides you with Divine guidance and Divine intelligence. Asking open ended questions requires your intution to answer how your setback occurred and how to overcome this setback.  However, do not ask an open-ended question that includes the word “why?” such as “Why did this happen to me today?”  Asking open ended questions including the word “why” will leave you in negative, victim-based emotional state and produce a “defensive” response that not give you any useful insights to overcome your setback.  Instead ask yourself positive open-ended questions including who, what, when and where such as, “What I have learned that makes me better off today than I was yesterday, a month ago, a year ago?, What did I do to cause this setback?, What lesson did I learn from this setback?,  How can I react right now to this setback?  How can I shift my current negative emotional state to a more positive emotional state to allow me move forward after this setback?, etc.  Your open-end questions will likely change based on the type of setback you are experiencing.

Practicing progress not perfection allows you to make a positive impact and initiate positive change into your own life.

Out There on the Edge of Everything® …

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2021, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.

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