I first heard that saying when I crawled into Al-Anon. “Progress not perfection.” I have to admit, I didn’t quite understand it when I first heard it. Yes, it was a soothing thought. Yes, it took the pressure off. Yes, it gave me leeway to be human (something that was, and can be, quite difficult for me). But honestly, progress not perfection? I might have said it out loud as if I believed it, but at the same time I knew in my heart of hearts that it wasn’t true.
That wacky, misguided deep-down part of me KNEW that progress was never enough. There were goals to be achieved, bullseyes to be hit, and things to get Right (with an intentional capital R).
Over the years, I’ve come to learn that, indeed, progress is enough and perfection is, inherently, unattainable. I’ve come to describe myself as a recovering perfectionist, and when others call out my perfectionism, my first response is generally, “If you only knew how bad it used to be! This is quite fine and easy in my mind!”
I was in yoga class the other day, and our instructor reminded us of “progress not perfection.” Now that thought makes my heart sing.
Progress not perfection is why I could laugh at (and with) myself when I realized that I had tweeted, posted, and insta’d about a blog post that I hadn’t posted yet. My social media a few weeks ago was about a blog post that wasn’t yet live. I totally and completely f—-d up. And when I grasped what I did, I simply re-tweeted, re-posted, and re-insta’d the old tweets and posts. What the hell? Who would really mind?
Progress, not perfection.
It’s progress for me when I allow myself to make so many mistakes. It’s progress for me when I forgive myself. It’s progress for me when I simply say, “oh well.”
It’s progress for me when I joyfully admit that I will never be able to bind in certain yoga poses or – and this one always kills me – never be able to lay my stomach down to the ground in the seated wide-leg pose. (There apparently ARE people who can do that!!!) I Laugh Out Loud when the instructor suggests it.
Perhaps my overblown perfectionism helped save me when I was little. Perhaps it’s helped me achieve things and get places. Perhaps all that is true. That said, I don’t need to be driven by my perfectionism anymore, and I can be quite, quite, quite happy with progress, not perfection.
In yoga, in blogging, and in life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!