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January 19, 2023

How to Focus on Progress Instead of Perfection

Our learned measures of progress stem from our earliest years. In school, we are taught to strive for the best grades. We measure these grades down to percentage points, and progress in class is directly related to your percentage point. We are told that an ‘A’ is the best grade; the closest to perfection. A perfectionist’s mindset exists within the frame. You always want to get 100%, and will do all of the studying and extra credit to get there. Maybe that process worked in school, where we are measured by points, but real life does not provide you with your percentage. We have to learn how to appreciate our work, instead of perfecting it.

Try writing down your list of accomplishments each week.

These should be small, ranging from ‘got out of bed’ to ‘made dinner twice this week’. The purpose of this list is to appreciate the little things that we do each day. All of these small accomplishments are just as important as the big ones, because they keep you going each day and allow you to accomplish your larger goals.

You are not the sum of your productivity. Being productive feels great, but it does not define who you are. Remind yourself of who you are without all of the accolades and accomplishments. Understanding who you are without your tangible accomplishments will give you clarity about your value. 

Reframe your negative thoughts.

It can be uncomfortable for a perfectionist to feel like they have failed. Instead of making a mistake and internalizing it as a flaw in yourself, try putting the situation into perspective. Maybe you had a bad day at work and felt like you didn’t get anything done. That’s ok! Remind yourself that this is just one day of many. Your growth stems from being resilient after failure, not being perfect all of the time.

Part of appreciating your progress is taking pride in the work that you do; not just the end product. Each small task brings you closer to completing a big one. Take time to think about where you started and how far you’ve come.

Written by Jessy Pucker, LMSW
Photo credit: Pexels



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