Progress Not Perfection

Progress, not perfection. Profound huh?... How do we start something new? How do we really start to build new habits? I'll share what has been working for me.

I sometimes don't get it though. I'm pretty sure most don’t. This idea of just doing something to get the ball rolling. Usually, before I sit down to start writing a post or program some silly code for something I am working on I have to “be in the zone,” or have everything just right. The worst thing is if I didn’t have a minimum amount of time (roughly and hour and a half) I wouldn’t even want to start. I don’t know what it is but it takes me a little time to get in the groove.

The same is true for working out. I sometimes think why even bother if I can’t get my full workout in. Recently this has really put a damper on my personal growth. A few months back when I was working on my podcast every week or sometimes every other week, I was growing. I was learning, I was failing, but I was also moving forward. And by growing, I mean building a habit.

I tagged this post in all categories because when it comes to building habits, WE ALL SUCK. I’ll speak for you because I know you lie to yourself. I do it. We all set out to do something we think we should be doing. We change our morning routine to accommodate {insert to buzz topic here}. For me over the last few years those topics have been (in no particular order): read devotional/verses, meditate, journal, stretch, breathing exercises, write, and do other ‘wantrepreneurial’ things. I’d do great for a little bit and then eventually they would all drop off for some reason or another. Primarily because I didn't allow myself enough 'time' to complete them all. In reality, they didn't all need to be done every day or even at the same time, or even for the full amount of time. For example, meditate for 15 minutes. 

I’ve always been good at getting up early or getting a workout in or both so those haven’t really been on my list but finding time to do the other things I just listed is hard. The truth is, none of this is about time. It is all about prioritization and actually WANTING to make these items a habit. For me, I actually want to do all those things. I’ve had some long discussions with myself about what is important to me and if I should make them a priority on top of everything else I have going on.

When we set out to start a new habit, most of us go ‘all-in’ striving for perfection. However, none of us are forgiving enough with ourselves to accept that sometimes we are going to fail, be distracted, or have to temporarily re-prioritize. That is why progress is so important.

People tend to abandon the good system they’ll follow in search of the perfect system that they will quilt. – Tim Ferriss

So what can we do about it?

First, decide if what you want to do is really something you care about. Start saving for retirement for instance, or maybe you KNOW it is time to lose 20 lbs.

Then, decide on a metric for progress and NOT perfection. This means you put $1 a week into a new account. Progress being you have more than $1 put away by the end of your first month. This might mean you walk around the block with you coffee mug in the morning. Progress being before the end of the first month you finish your coffee by the time you get home.

Finally, reward yourself for making progress. Find a positive in every action leading up to and simply starting. You are already doing way more than most. Congratulate yourself.

Never let distractions get you down or get in the way of just starting. As I write this on this beautiful morning, my son is waking up, meaning I will have to pick up where I left off later to finish. I could have just not started this morning (almost didn’t) because I knew when I started this would happen and I wouldn’t have the time to complete in all one shot.

But here we are at the end of the post. I completed while watching a little ‘Masha & The Bear’ on Netflix and now it is breakfast time. All because I just fucking started.

This little progress on building my blog gives me the momentum I need to keep building in other areas.

I've finally begun to be more accepting of failure in perfection. I just fit in the habits I want to build where I think they belong. They don't all need to be daily. They don't all need to meet their full duration.  They just have to be started and worked towards.

If we truly want a new habit in our life, these caveats shouldn't be a big enough deal for us to simply give up on it.

What are you working on now or wanting to change into a habit in your life that you can start making progress towards today? If you want it in your life, just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Small wins! That’s all you need. Life is about growing. If you’re not growing… well, you know.

Till next time.

- Ross

Ross Wickman

Husband, Father, and owner @TactfulCloud. I help people better understand technology on the . Not to mention a