As each year winds to a close and a new one begins, I choose a word that will be my theme for the coming year. For example, a couple of years ago, that word was invitation, where I challenged myself to accept the invitations that God gave me to pursue new adventures, even if they were outside of my comfort zone. Last year, as I positioned myself in a new place and worked to set myself up for success and growth, my word was movement. This year, my word is forward. As 2023 kicks off, I aim to move forward by pursuing progress, not perfection.
Perfection is the Enemy of the Good
I am a huge believer in doing your best and giving it all you’ve got, no matter what you’re doing. And yes, there are times when perfection is essential for your task (for instance, building the James Webb Telescope or performing heart surgery).
How often do you and I get tied up in the notion that something has to be perfect and, by doing so, prevent ourselves from even starting?
Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase: Perfection is the enemy of the good. I don’t know about you, but this is often true for me. Sometimes I sit down at my computer or with my notebook and freeze. Writer’s block hits hard in those moments as I envision the finished product as perfect and polished. But without breaking some serious rules of brain physics, there’s no way I can jump from a blank page to an excellent piece of writing.
Imagine standing at the trailhead of a mountain. You strap on your hiking boots and hoist your pack, and then… you jump to the summit in one grand leap? I don’t think so. Not unless you have rocket boosters attached to those boots. Instead, there are steps that must be taken, and a journey must be made to the peak.
I often have to remind myself to take a breath, close my eyes, and just let the words start flowing. It doesn’t matter if there are typos, spelling errors, or plot holes more numerous than Swiss cheese. What matters is that I take that first step, write those first few words, and embark on the journey. It’s essential that I make progress rather than strive for perfection.
And that progress helps me to make it to the end of the story and become a better writer, storyteller, and communicator. It’s progress toward telling you a story that resonates with you and stirs something in your soul.
Take a second and think about your own life. What things have you been putting off starting because you’re afraid they won’t be perfect? Which ones feel too overwhelming or are outside your comfort zone? What sort of pressure are you putting on yourself to ensure they turn out well?
Remind yourself today that it’s okay for things to be messy and imperfect at first. Beautiful pottery starts that way, with wet clay splashing against the wheel and all over the potter’s hands. Allow your creativity to flow and take the first step. The other steps will follow.
Give yourself permission to make progress today and this year in whatever area it needs to come. Maybe it’s on a physical project you need to work on. Perhaps it’s healing mentally and emotionally. Whatever it is, be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and allow those messy and imperfect moments to come. You may be surprised at how things turn out.
© 2023, Lainey La Shay.