By: Elaine Fraser
There is a beautiful thing called Imperfect Progress. It comes when we take slow steps of progress wrapped in grace. – Lysa TerKeurst
I don’t know about you, but there are some things I need to be perfect and others I don’t.
So many times, I’ve watched YouTube videos of people folding fitted sheets and ended up bundling mine into a squarish shape and shoving them into the linen cupboard.
At the end of the day, I don’t lie in bed and worry about those sheets being scrunched instead of folded beautifully. But, there are other things that I obsess about and worry about and try to make perfect.
When something keeps you awake at night, when something interrupts your peace during the day, when you keep going over and over something to get it right, then you know you have a perfectionist problem.
When this happens to me, I get stuck. It’s like I’m on one of those mice running wheels and keep going in circles, not getting anywhere, but I’m giving it all I’ve got. I’m sweating. I’m putting in a lot of effort. I’m not getting anywhere.
An example is the book I’ve been working on for several years. I kept editing, adding, second-guessing, getting advice, editing, adding, second-guessing … You get the picture.
Last year, I decided to take this problem in hand and forget about perfectionism. Instead, I took up imperfect progress.
Because my husband and I were travelling separately all year, I built my plans around two goals: finishing my novel and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.
I had booked in to discuss my manuscript with mentor Margie Lawson in May. Then, in September I had a chance to have my work critiqued by a commissioning editor from Harper Collins UK at The Art of Writing retreat.
So, I had milestones. I just had to get the words on the page. I wrote on planes, trains, and ferries.
By May, I still hadn’t finished the draft, but I had enough to work on with Margie.
By July, I finished the draft and sent it off to my editor and she had a month to give feedback before I took it to The Art of Writing.
In September, I had a rough edited manuscript, with the first few chapters polished to present at the retreat.
I’d done it. I’d achieved my goal. Was it perfect? No.
Do I still have work to do on it? Yes.
Sometimes, we need to break down a big goal into steps. Make it manageable.
Sometimes, we need to give ourselves grace.
Beating ourselves up over something and stalling into inaction is not helpful.
Whether it’s writing, or parenting, or weight loss, or fitness, or climbing a mountain, taking slow steps of progress wrapped in grace is a great way to live.
Grace means forgiving yourself, allowing yourself to be less than perfect. Allowing yourself to acknowledge that there is a purpose for your life and that, step-by-step, you are walking in that path.
If you get stuck for a while, just do one small thing that will take you one step closer.
This week, I’m taking small steps towards getting my manuscript ready to submit to an agent. It’s the next step on the journey.
If I hadn’t taken those imperfect steps last year, my manuscript would still not be finished.
If I hadn’t taken many walks and climbs throughout the year, I’d never have been able to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
If I hadn’t given myself some grace, I’d still be stuck.
Article supplied with thanks to Elaine Fraser.
About the Author: Elaine Fraser is from Perth WA and is a teacher, mentor and author.