What Keeps You from Moving Forward?

Article by Dee DeWitt, Edited by Dee DeWitt


I constantly have to fight my own personality.   I tend to be a perfectionist.  My family is probably laughing as they read this, because they think that even this is an understatement!


However over the years I have been trying to step back … and understand that being a perfectionist actually prevents achievement in many instances.  For example, never starting a project because we cannot envision the end result … or convincing ourselves that the idea isn’t “good enough.”


All too often, many of us we are striving for our version of perfection.  We are looking to create that perfect document, play the perfect song, grow the perfect garden … or some other perfect expression of our creativity.


It’s understandable. We all want to do things well.  But does it make sense that we are aiming for perfection?  Should we be aiming for something else?


I suggest another perspective … aiming to be diligent.


Perfection is overwhelming.  At best, it’s challenging to achieve.  And many times we create our own elevated definition of perfection, which is unreachable (an entire article could be dedicated to why we do this).  The result?  It’s easy to become frustrated or feel that we’re not achieving all we feel should, simply because we’ve not satisfied our own personal definition of perfection.


Moreover, when “perfection” is our goal, we are less likely to experiment.  We’re so concerned with creating something that will live up to our definition of perfection that we fear taking the first step.  Demanding perfection keeps us from trying things, from, experimenting, from experiencing what could be.


I am trying to retrain myself to aim for diligence instead of perfection.  Particularly if the goal is to do something well.  Diligence can be defined as “doing or pursuing with persevering attention.”


Diligence doesn’t require perfection.


Rather, diligence means committing to continually going after what we want … being dedicated, focusing on the pursuit, devoting focus and attention to what we are trying to accomplish.  If necessary, doing things over again and again … not giving up because we are committed to the pursuit.


And for me personally, when I feel defeated or tired from the pursuit … praying to God for strength and direction.


So … my goal is to not let a need for perfection stop me from moving forward … aiming for diligence instead.  I believe is we all took this attitude, amazing things would happen …


… giving one another credit for continually pursuing things well at work, at home, at church, in our community.  And I think along the way we will all tend to be less judgmental of only of ourselves but of others.


It’s not everyone that can consistently maintain diligent focus.  I can’t.  But I am trying to learn, and I hope the small improvements encourage me to do more and more.  Ironically, I think that once we commit to diligence … to consistently working at something … over time we begin to see a kind of perfection.  Not perfection in the traditional use of the word, but in the attempt, in better relationships with one another, and in realizing better outcomes than if we had never tried at all.


 “Don’t waste your time striving for perfection; instead, strive for excellence – doing your best.”
-Sir Laurence Olivier


“All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection.  So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.”
-William Faulkner


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Posted on 23 April, 2010 in Balance, Motivation, Productivity
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