Progress not Perfection

Look what I got for Christmas! Yep, it’s a Wizard of Oz Coach tote. I don’t think I would have purchased this for myself, but damn, my parents are generous, and boy oh boy, does this baby bring me joy! I’m sure you all know about the litany of life lessons embedded in the beloved film, and my favorite happens to be the message that we have the power within us at all times to change our lives and circumstances. While that is a gem of an adage, I don’t really want to focus on that one today. I want to talk about the journey Dorothy took, her “map” of the yellow brick road to get her there, and the fact that while it was far from perfect, she progressed along her path and got to her destination. Today, we are going to chat about progress over perfection.

          The timing is perfect, as we are all resolving to set goals for 2020. We have lots of hope and big aspirations on January first, but here’s what tends to happen. We set our goal. Let’s just use the basic “I’m going to lose weight,” declaration as our example, because that is usually a biggie. December 31, the ball drops and we either drunkenly or soberly hug our friends and family. We hit the hay, wake up on January first (hungover or not), turn the calendar page and expect ourselves to 100 percent align our behavior towards achieving our objective. Mind you, we probably have never been able to perfectly perform in this way before, so why do we think the calendar flip with a new number on it is the ideal solution to setting our actions straight? It makes no kind of sense. 

      On day one we expect all the right moves. We just may fudge it, partially because what have we actually done to set ourselves up for success? Have we bought containers to bring our lunch to work? Have we scheduled exercise in our planners? Have we cut up some veggies for the fridgie? We don’t have a plan. Or maybe we have a plan, trot down that road achieving some success, but when the enchanted tree starts throwing apples, AKA, we miss going to the gym for a few days or have a few too many at happy hour, we give up. We expect ourselves to make all the right moves all the time. Pooh, pooh. Basically, we set ourselves up with crazy expectations, assume perfection, and when we fumble a few times (normal human behavior that is simply par for the course), we give up.

Get out the planner and map out your road!

      This year, keep progress over perfection as your mantra, and give yourself a road map. What does the journey look like? What actions are you going to take each month to get yourself to your goal? Mind you, this is not a post about weight loss, but simply about getting to that place you really want to be. How will this apply to your organizing endeavors? What are you going to do each month to get to your goal? Work on one room at a time? Set the timer for a half hour a day? What area do you see fully completed? Write out your monthly actions. This way, you gradually work your way up to where you want to be, with realistic expectations. As you start your 2020 journey you have the map to tell you where to go and what to do. When you stray? Just assess it (thoughtful reflection or journaling), and move on. No judgements. When you look at your endeavor as a process where you can monitor progression, rather than a daily event to monitor perfection, you release yourself from a whole bunch of stress, you enjoy the ride, and you can actually see growth. 

    I set a whole lot of goals each year and I check in with my road map quarterly, sometimes monthly. I reflected upon my 2019 objectives and found that I nailed some of them, others were 80% attained (that’s what I usually aim for), some about 50% (better than nothing), and a few at  20% (waaaaah)! Did I give up though, when I didn’t do things perfectly? No. Huge kudos to myself for the ones I attained, even the 50% successes, and you know what? For the ones that resulted in 20%? I STILL MOVED FORWARD! I am assessing now, and seeing what I can do better in 2020. 

     So get out that planner. Lay it all out. Check in. Assess. Be flexible and note where things are working or what changes need to be made. Enjoy the journey…meeting new friends, seeing a horse of different color, though I do suggest avoiding flying monkeys. Don’t expect perfection 100% of the time and I guarantee, even if you don’t reach your goal completely, you will definitely have some success. And more importantly, you really will have the time of your life right in your own back yard.

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