Home > Health, Reflections, Work > Progress, not perfection

Progress, not perfection

As an introvert, meetings often exhaust me.

Today I attended a rare meeting that invigorated me without the corresponding exhaustion.

The meeting was only five minutes, which helped, but my joy was about more than un-meeting minutes.

One colleague explained what he’d accomplished since our last meeting. He expressed regret that he hadn’t finished everything yet.

A teammate I greatly admire, C, countered that with a simple upbeat statement that blew me away: “What I’m hearing is progress–it’s all good stuff!”

Recently, I’ve been making huge lifestyle changes to reduce anxiety and physical symptoms–each of which feeds the other–that have assailed me for the last few months. With every passing week, I’ve become more frustrated how much work there is ahead:

Shouldn’t I be healed already? I’m failing. I’m a failure.

Hearing C’s optimism and warmth  inspired me to look at my situation in a different light, as I imagined he might. Instead of focusing on all the progress I have yet to make, I sought signs of progress I have already made … and found a great many.

I am doing good work.

The facts are all the same as they were before that morning meeting, but my perspective now isn’t even on the same continent as it was then.

‘Cause what I’m seeing is progress–and it’s all good stuff!

  1. April 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Bit by bit, piece by piece, that’s what gets us where we need to be. Kudos to you for embracing that. Some days I do, other days I’m living in the future, wondering why I don’t have everything done. Needless to say the former mindset is more peaceful!

    • April 21, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      I’m sure I’m going to have to walk myself back here over and over again, but by “taking in the good“–as by writing this and returning to it–I’m making it that much easier to find my way back. That’s a heartening thought, and you are so right … it’s a much more peaceful place to be!

  2. April 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    It took me 5 years to get a diagnosis of a problem I knew I had. It’s taken me 15 years to find solutions for my symptoms. Doctors helped me very little, I had to research and try many things to find my own answers and solutions that worked. Don’t give up, every step is progress.

    • April 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      After I found my answers only through happenstance via an on-call doc a few years back, I’ve learned to rely on myself for the greatest part of my healing. I do hope I’ll be able to find a doctor who’ll partner with me instead of just tuning me out and send me for the same blood tests periodically just in case there’s an easy answer in the blood. (Ugh! I wish doctors weren’t so pigeonholed as they are now by insurance/bureaucracy.)

      I’m heartened by your words. Thank you!

  3. April 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I believe in progress. I gave up on perfection somewhere along the way and now focus on whatever little steps I’m making toward my goal. Glad that today set you on that path. It’s a good one, imho.

    • April 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      My husband called me right after I posted this and said something like, “Yay, you’re getting it!” I laughed and told him I needed to hear someone say it to someone not-me to get it, but now that I’d heard it in that context, it’ll make sense when I hear similar things elsewhere … like from him. (That call, by the way, affirmed the goodness of focusing on steps taken so far, and communicating some part of them so folks around you can tell you what they see and help guide you to seeing how rockin’ you’re doing in their eyes. All kinds of relief here today!)

  4. April 21, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Yay, progress! What a wonderful thing to hear in such an unexpected place Thanks for sharing this change in viewpoint. I need to think this way, too. So today, I’m not the failure who can’t get a handle on her stress and the resutling inflammation. I’m the woman who edited her ass off and sent three pieces out to writing contests this week. 🙂 That smile is for you and me.

    • April 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      I’ve read things touching on this idea in a vague and generalized way, but actually hearing someone say it–and to someone else!–really hit it home for me.

      I heartily agree with your conclusion, by the way. Inflammation is part of my problem. I’m used to taking care of it (or much of it, as I don’t think I was really getting down to the roots before) with a single Whole30. To have done the Whole30, ditched the coffee, and implemented so many other measures to only a fraction of the results I previously got from a Whole30 … it was easy to look at it the one way, but just because it was easy didn’t make it right!

      Keep rockin’, lady! ♥

  5. April 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    This reminds me of that saying “practice makes perfect” and how my music professors said there is no perfect in music, the saying should really be “practice makes permanence” and I think progress is the space in between that. Nice post, thank you sharing.

    • April 22, 2016 at 3:07 am

      Thank you! Something I hear often these days is “practice, not perfection,” which is the perfect extension of something one of my middle school teachers said frequently: “Practice makes better, not perfect.” I thought I understood her completely then, but I understand that a little better by the day even now. 🙂

  6. April 21, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    What a great attitude and perspective. I will keep that in mind whenever I feel like a failure (which is all too often these days).

    • April 22, 2016 at 3:15 am

      The things you are juggling right now are so complex, I think it’d be impossible to keep every single ball in the air at all times! To that point, I’m reading a book called Mother Nurture right now that I wish every mom everywhere could read. I’ve read several books recently with useful bits and pieces, but every page of this is full of relieving wisdom. I think the fact I just started that–and its exercises–is part of why C’s words really stood out to me, because I was already starting to see (with understanding I was seeing it) a similar theme looking at myself as the authors of the book might. It’s normal to be overwhelmed with small children around, even apart form any other responsibilities, particularly in a world already vastly different–and trickier to navigate–than it was when we were raised a few short decades ago. In light of that and all the things they address with much greater specificity, it’s also right and important to set aside moments and kindness for yourself, a kind of fuel to keep you going through all the challenges and obstacles. From the outside, you are doing great in extremely challenging circumstances, and I mean that to the core of me.

  7. Paul
    April 21, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Indeed Deb I’d call it a process the same as progress.

  8. April 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Amen sister. I heard this the other day and it has stuck with me so I’m gonna share with you. (And yesss it’s off a tv show but if it fits it fits!)
    For every heartbeat that seems to be giving your anxiety away to your world remember this…it’s working hard FOR you and not against you.
    This post is just what I needed to my beautiful Deb. You’re doing great. Not that what anyone else thinks should matter, but you matter so I thought you should know. 💜💜💜

  9. April 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Glad they saw it and told you! I like to know I’m not crazy sometimes and that confirmation from others- trusted others- is great validation! Hurrah!

  10. April 21, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    🙂 🙂 🙂 Yay! And now to keep on carrying on.. 😉
    I hope you get to the root of your problem (whatever it is) soon, and don’t have to restrict yourself too much for too long.. (Sometimes you can build the things you can eat/do back up, once you’ve removed them for a while. Example – a friend had awful problems with coffee for a long time. That ‘long time’ corresponded with a whole lot of other things/problems/situations. She gave up coffee, changed a lot of the rest, and now (adnittedly a couple of years later) she’s fine with coffee again)

  11. April 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    That’s such a positive way of looking at things. You are doing great 🙂

  12. April 22, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Seeing how far you’ve come is such a motivator! I’m so glad you are acknowledging your accomplishments instead of focusing on problems. I love the positivity of this post! None of us are perfect, we can’t be. I think striving for progress is a great goal!

  13. April 22, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Yes, so true. It’s the simple things like I’ve made some progress. I needed to read this post today.

  14. April 22, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’m also feeling like I have SO FAR to go on a lot of my goals. But I am making progress, even if it’s slow. Thanks for this reminder!

  15. April 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Baby steps is what counts! I love seeing your positivity, it is uplifting. 🙂

  16. April 23, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I love people who are upbeat and who share upbeat statements. To take a negative “hadn’t finished everything yet”, and turn it around to something positive is admirable. Thanks for sharing. Companies (and the world) needs more people like this! 🙂

  17. April 23, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Progress is all that matters no matter how much or little. Progress is not linear either (which can make it frustrating)

  18. April 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I love your mindset. It’s so much more…helpful, I guess, for lack of a better word…to focus on the good you’ve done than get overwhelmed with what’s left. ❤

  19. April 30, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    ❤ !!!
    Nothing quite like a shift in perspective, is there!

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