6 Tips to Focus on Progress, Not Perfection


Have you ever said negative things about yourself?

For example, things like:

  • “I can’t do this.
  • What was I thinking? I don’t have what it takes to do this.”
  • or “I’ll never be able to make it. I’m not good enough.”

I know what it’s like to have negative thoughts and feelings toward yourself and to believe that you’re not good enough but listen: that negative way of thinking may be keeping you stuck.

One of the reasons you may see yourself in such a negative light is that you’re trying to succeed but feel like you have to be perfect to achieve your goals.

But the truth is you don’t have to be perfect.

If you focus more on progress than perfection, you’ll keep your eyes on what’s important: achieving your goals instead of being hard on yourself.

You might not know this, but people who prioritize perfection over progress tend to have low self-confidence.

Just think about it: Nobody’s perfect.

But since you’re trying to be (and are failing at it, naturally), you believe you’re not good enough.

If you’re constantly striving for more because you feel like you don’t amount to enough and forget to celebrate the little things in life, you’ll stay stuck.

You might even notice that you can never seem to finish what you’ve started because it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

Plus, this mindset can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Which, in turn, can hold you back in life and hinder any progress you could’ve made.

Sounds familiar?

In this article, you’ll learn how focusing on the little things can get you to your end goal.

Check out these six actionable steps to put the mantra of “progress, not perfection” into practice.

6 Tips to Prioritize Progress Over Perfection

You don’t have to be perfect to reach your goals. Here are six tips that’ll help you focus on that.

1. See your mistakes as learning opportunities

How often have you felt like a failure when you’ve made a mistake?

Probably more times than you can count on both hands.

But what if you changed your perspective and saw these mistakes as opportunities to learn, grow, and become better at what you do?

Shifting your mindset is the basis of Thomas Edison’s philosophy: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Try to adopt that philosophy into your way of thinking, and don’t be so hard on yourself.

Grab a notebook, think about times in which you could have made a better choice, and list everything you learned thanks to that experience.

Embrace your mistakes.

See them as the stepping stones that have brought you here and made you who you are today.

2. Remember that a bit of progress each day adds up to big results

You’ve likely heard the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” at least once or twice in your lifetime.

And that goes for anything.

Being great takes time.

But if you focus on progress over perfection, you can make small steps each day that lead to more significant, better results in time.

Making consistent progress is far better than trying to become perfect in a single day, failing at it, and letting frustration keep you stuck.

3. Be mindful of how much perfection is blocking you

Have you realized that striving for perfection instead of focusing on making progress could stop you from achieving your goals?

When you only care about perfection, you constantly feel like you need to achieve it to be successful.

In reality, your constant desire to be perfect could be holding you back from the success you yearn for and want to experience in life.

Perfection is a roadblock on your self-growth journey.

You can’t experience personal growth and development if you get too caught up on being perfect.

How would your life change if you worried less about being perfect and more about completing small steps that will help you reach your end goal, even if it takes a bit longer to get there?

If you’re looking for a tool to help you put your thoughts in order and overcome your need for perfection, this journaling workbook can be a great starting point; it can help you understand which hidden beliefs are keeping you stuck.

4. Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone’s highlight reel

I know what it’s like to feel the need to compare yourself to others. I used to do the same thing.

When I wanted to start this blog, I read dozens of articles by people who had successful blogs that (reportedly) started making huge amounts of money within a couple of months.

It was exciting and promising, but when I realized mine wasn’t going to be that successful that quickly, I started to believe I was doing something wrong.

Thankfully, I knew deep inside that my idea and I had potential, so I kept working on my business.

But comparing myself to those other people hurt. A lot.

Until I started to think that maybe they weren’t telling the whole story.

Maybe what they’re saying about the money they make is true, but it’s also possible that this wasn’t the first blog they started.

What if, before they had success, they’d started two, three, or four blogs that failed and taught them how to do it right?

What if they hired people to help them with the strategy and content production?

Questions like these helped me stop comparing myself to these huge bloggers and focus on my thing.

It’s impossible to have the bigger picture of what goes on behind the scenes for others.

The next time you see someone doing exceptionally well, don’t compare yourself to them.

Instead, think of all the hard work they had to put in to get to that moment and remember they’re as human as you, so they probably struggle in some way or another.

Think of how much progress they had to make to yield those desired results that they aren’t sharing with the rest of the world.

5. Remember that success takes time

It takes time to succeed, and there’s wrong with that.

In fact, success often feels much better when you’ve worked hard to achieve it.

When you hear the success stories of others, it’s easy to assume that they happened overnight, but that’s usually not the case.

In most cases, these people have had to work incredibly hard to get to where they are today.

Some of today’s most famous people failed multiple times before experiencing success.

Take J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, who was turned away by various publishers for years before someone finally gave her a chance.

Or Sir James Dyson, the famous inventor who failed multiple types in developing a prototype for the bagless vacuum cleaner before finally hitting the nail on the head.

Today he’s worth more than $4 billion.

6. Keep a record of your wins

Keep track of your wins, no matter how small they may be.

You can do this in a diary or even on a spreadsheet.

Whenever you feel down about not being perfect, go back and look at everything you’ve accomplished so far.

I promise it will give your self-esteem a boost.

And it will also remind you that things aren’t as bad as you think and that you’re on the right track to success.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to be perfect to get big wins.

By letting go of the desire to be perfect, you can focus on what really matters, which will help you improve your life and reach incredible goals.

Getting over your need for perfection is the key to improving your life and reaching your goals.

So, stop focusing so much on being perfect and start paying attention to how far you can go.

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