Most of us have some sort of current goal that we are trying to achieve. That may be a fitness goal, weight loss goal, work goal, learning goal, new skill, etc. Sometimes the goal can seem overwhelming when the space is large between where we are now and where we want to be. We often set ourselves up for failure when focusing on the ultimate goal instead of the next small step. We try to do every step absolutely perfect without giving ourselves room to make mistakes, learn from them and grow. So to help with these all too common goal seeking roadblocks, here are 5 ways to create progress not perfection.
1. Flip your inner script
When you hear your inner dialogue saying things like:
2. pause and reflect
When your feelings become intense with frustration because something isn't going the way you had imagined it would, stop, take a breath and pause before you make a rash decision. Don't fall into the trap of giving up on a whim because of emotional intensity. Take some time to reflect, this could mean taking a walk around the block or sitting quietly with some tea and meditation, whatever works for you. Think about why things didn't work the way you thought they would, and what could be done to improve for next time. Think about the successes you did have in your process so far. After you have taken a moment to pause, calm down and reflect, think about what the next step is and how you will proceed and improve. "I need to take a break and come back to this later" is a great dialogue for this tool as well.
3. Cut the comparison
Falling into the comparison trap is common and can be kryptonite to goal seeking efforts. I love the phrase, "You are only in competition with yesterdays self." It is not fair to compare yourself to someone else that likely has a different backstory with challenges you are not aware of. For example, say you are out walking trying to work up to running and feeling pretty good about it. Then you pass someone who looks like they could run a marathon without sweating. All of the sudden your good feelings of confidence start to fade. Stop to think of what that person could have had to overcome to become a runner, maybe they struggled to lose 50 pounds, fought serious illness or they run to manage mental health challenges or grief. Don't assume that things come easier to others. Look at the facts, and stop yourself from trying to compare apples to oranges.
"Comparison is the thief of joy" -Theodore Roosevelt
4. small steps equal larger results
Learn the small steps it takes to reach your goal. This may look like one minute, hour, day or week at a time or more. Focus on the task and step at hand and nothing else. Breaking up your goal into manageable and attainable steps that will lead to the larger goal.
An excellent resource for learning how to break this down with lots of tools is the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I highly recommend reading or listening to it.
5. Give yourself some grace & have realistic expectations
We are all human beings with beautiful struggles and awesome challenges that make us interesting, unique and individual. Don't expect perfection, don't expect everything to go as you imagined, expect to make mistakes, expect to fail, expect to learn from it and do better by giving yourself grace to take the time to do it your way.
What's the recipe for success? Keep making progress. Keep moving forward. Be kind to yourself and practice patience.
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."