Progress Not Perfection

Confession: I am a recovering perfectionist. That’s why, when I was at my friend Molly’s house last week and saw a little note on the board in her kitchen that read, “Progress Not Perfection,” I smiled with delight and said to myself, “I have to remember this!”

When I came home, I printed out a few copies to put around the house. Progress Not Perfection is my new mantra. Let me tell you 5 reasons why it should become one of yours too!

1. Perfection steals from us the joy of “a job well done.” Today homeschooling went well. We finished with enough time to meet our friends at a local park and do a wonderful science lesson on caterpillars together.

But the kitchen is a mess and there are dishes in the sink.

I can choose to focus either on the great things that I DID accomplish today OR I can feel defeated over an area that I was unable to tackle.

Guess what? There will always be something left on your to-do list! Choose to celebrate the things you have done well!


2. Perfection can hinder us from pursuing worthwhile goals – we may procrastinate trying something new if we fear that we won’t excel at it; Instead, we can choose to step out and risk failing in order to experience a new dimension of life.

If there is an activity or pursuit you’ve wanted to engage in but have resisted due to fear of failing, step out and give it a try. Choose to kick perfectionism to the curb today!

3. Perfectionism fails to celebrate the beauties of incremental progress. Small victories are worth celebrating.

A friend of mine mentioned how hard it is to rejoice in the multitude of times she kept her cool and was patient with her toddler because she couldn’t get out of her head the one or two times she was impatient and lost her temper.

We’ve all been there! Choose to focus on and celebrate every step you take in the right direction.

Maybe you hate vegetables, but you know they’re great for you so you make a choice to eat vegetables twice in one day – high five!

Maybe you haven’t been consistent in a regular prayer or devotional time, but for three days in a row, you have gotten up 30 minutes early to spend time in prayer – way to go!!!

But…maybe the next day you sleep in late and avoid anything green.

Perfection says to be devastated. Grace tells you to be motivated to keep pressing on towards your worthwhile goals, in spite of minor setbacks.

4. Perfectionism promotes critical, negative thinking, while a focus on slow but steady progress celebrates the positive.

Watch out for thoughts like these:

(This area of my life) is just a mess. I will never get it under control.
I can’t seem to _______ for the life of me!
It’s never going to be ‘just right,’ so why try?

A key element in making any progress is focusing not on what you can’t do but what you can do.

I love to write. I don’t have an hour to write every day (I wish I did, but it’s just not a luxury I have in this season of my life).

I could either say, “Today I’m going to try to sit down and write for 10-15 minutes,” or I could say, “It’s not worth it if I don’t have a full hour. I’ll just never get around to writing the things I want to!” (Enter Debbie Downer).

5. Perfectionism hinders relational growth – When we choose to operate in perfectionistic tendencies, those closest to us bear the brunt of our heavy burdens.

Maybe we fail to notice or celebrate the progress and growth in others because we fail to celebrate it in ourselves (ouch!)

The great news for us perfectionistics is that we don’t have to stay that way! We can choose today to say “NO!” to perfectionism and say “YES!” to messy, crazy, fun LIFE.

Keep pursuing the things you love and are called to do, celebrating every tiny step of growth and progress along with way.

Repeat after me: Progress NOT Perfection!

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Laura M. Thomas is writer and editor at This Eternal Moment. A homeschooling mom to three little girls, she loves writing, reading, the great outdoors, and afternoon nap times.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Progress Not Perfection

  1. Amen to that! A few days ago I was feeling really down on myself for all the items not checked off the list. My friend advised me to write down things like “take a shower” and “feed the kids” and so I did. On those busy days, that visualization really helps me, as silly as it sounds!

  2. Oh I can totally relate to this! I have such a hard time letting go of perfection but I’m trying! I find its a lot about appearances for me (clothing etc.) or it’s about decor. So those are the two places I need to work on being more relaxed in! Thanks for the encouragement!