Progress over perfection…
Have you heard this saying? It’s a quickly-growing idea, especially in conversations about healthy living.
Health and fitness experts are finally realizing that we are not super humans. Even if we were, cookies would be our kryptonite (at least for me). Unless you’re training to be in some kind of fitness competition (which 99.8% of us are definitely NOT) it’s okay to take small steps toward your goals while ENJOYING the process.
It’s a reminder that says, “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m sure not where I was.”
This has totally changed my thought process about adopting a healthy lifestyle in general. Having an attitude of grace.
I think I was born a perfectionist. You’d have to ask my mom, but I could see myself as an infant wanting to do everything just right. My mom would say, “Well, she WAS a good baby, but there was a time when she was four, and spanked another girl in preschool because she wasn’t following the rules.”
Yeah, I did that.
I needed to follow every rule perfectly, but I also needed to make sure everyone else was following the rules as well.
I love rules. I love structure. I follow directions really well. The problem is, when I slip up, and accidentally break a rule (again, it’s those DANG KRYPTONITE COOKIES) it might as well be the worst thing I’ve ever done. At least in my mind. I feel as though I’ve failed, leaving no room for healing, course-correction or redemption.
Yes, it’s that bad when I slip up.
If perfection is a destination, I think it’s like the island from that old show, Lost. People believe the island exists, but it’s impossible to get there. It changes locations, raises the stakes and standards constantly, and claims the livelihood of people trying to get there.
Perfection does the same thing. Once perfection realizes that you’re in it to win it, it trudges against you full-force. It doesn’t care who you are, where you’ve been or what you have to show for your hard work. It simply consumes all of you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed out on loving my body because I skipped a day on my fad diet and felt like I had lost the whole game.
If I had a dollar for every time I thought I was a bad mom because I didn’t parent like they said I should in the parenting books. Or I didn’t make something as beautiful as it was on Pinterest. Or I didn’t measure up to what I saw my friends doing on social media. Gosh, I could buy all the cookies in the whole universe.
We have to stop chasing after perfection. Perfect is boring and lonely because no one ever gets there. No one ever really “makes it.” It’s so much more important to enjoy the process. We have to recognize that maybe we’re not where we want to be, but we’re so far from where we were.
I may not be at my goal weight, but through the process I have grown to love working out and eating healthier.
I may not be the mom I pictured in my head, but I’m learning to give myself grace and teaching my kids to show grace to others.
I may have made a lot of mistakes in life, but they have all worked into something good. I’ve grown from every single one of them.
But how do we shift our focus from the pursuit of perfection? How do we learn to celebrate our progress?
Here are three major things that have helped me:
>1. Share Your Goals With Friends
We were created for connection. We’re hard wired for community with other people. Sharing our journey and our story encourages our own journey and can inspire those around us. Surrounding ourselves with positive people who will celebrate our big wins and extend grace to us when we slip up, helps us to stay in the game long term.
We can find community in church, our neighborhood, our job, or even a Facebook group with similar interests.
2. Measure Your Progress
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, documenting your progress and celebrating your victories on paper makes a world of difference. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the relativity of it all and forget how far we’ve come.
Take progress photos, grab a notebook or journal, or start a private blog. There are all kinds of resources, apps and tools available to measure your progress in any goal you’re working toward.
Remember, this isn’t just about weight loss or health. Writing or journaling about something such as your journey as a mother, or your relationship with your best friend can be incredibly helpful in organizing your thoughts and keeping the right frame of mind over time.
3. Forgive Yourself
When, not if, WHEN you slip up or make a mistake, the most important thing you can do is to forgive yourself. The perfectionist in me says, “But if I give myself grace, doesn’t that mean I’m saying it’s okay that I made the mistake? Shouldn’t I feel the pain of beating myself up so I remember this feeling and never want to make a another mistake again?”
No, Perfectionist-Kristen, it doesn’t.
Giving yourself grace and forgiveness just means you’ve realized that you’re human. It doesn’t mean you’re permanently engraving a permission slip to make the same mistake again. It gives you a pass to learn to do better and make progress!
When we realize that there’s beauty in the mess, and promise in the progress, we can truly find joy in the process.
Now go be imperfect, you beautiful mess, you.
Thanks for reading!
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