Aim for progress, not perfection

Man giving thumbs up sign

I admit it. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Because perfectionism is really both a blessing and a curse.

My mom was a seamstress. Very good at making the perfect garment to fit its wearer just so. All she needed was a picture and fabric. Then she’d get to work. Created a pattern from scratch, to the exact measurements. There’d be fittings and eventually, a final garment. That looked stunning. Perfect!

But she would admit that she wasn’t all that fast, since it took lots of time to make sure everything was perfect. And that affected how much money she made.

So is there a balance?

I learned well from her and would totally go for perfection. Because is perfect is good, right? Perfection seems good when we strive to deliver the best product or service we can. We want to be a market leader. We want to be successful. We want to be unsurpassed. So, we aim for perfection!

The downsides of perfection

  • Perfection is elusive
    It’s a moving target. Absolute perfection is unattainable. Just when you think you’ve hit the mark, the goal moves higher.
  • Pursuing perfection can paralyze us
    We may spend so much time, energy and money getting everything just right that we can never finally pull the trigger and deliver.
  • Aiming for perfection is very costly
    While chasing after perfection, we lose sight of what it’s costing us. Only too late do we realize that our expenses and the time we’ve invested is taking its toll on our business.
  • Straining for perfection is stressful
    For the above reasons and more, when we’re bent on total perfection, it stresses us out. We’re never finished; we’re never satisfied; we can never rest.

Aiming for progress

By contrast, when we aim for progress we experience the following:

  • Focusing on progress is freeing
    Progress frees us from the burden of perfection, yet promises continuous improvement.
  • Pursuing progress is motivating and stimulates action
    Making progress a little at a time, we think, “That’s not hard! I can do that!” And we do. We forge ahead, making improvements.
  • Aiming for progress fosters creativity
    It frees our minds to ask great questions, consider new possibilities, and seek new solutions.
  • Going after progress is incremental
    Progress allows us to make small improvements every day. Those little advancements add up over time to yield huge dividends!

How to progress

To aim for progress, we need to keep asking ourselves questions:

  1. What’s one thing I can do today to improve my product?
    How could I add more value? Where could I purchase it more cheaply? How can I get it faster? It may be just a little thing, but what a difference it could make!
  2. What’s one way I can improve my service today?
    What simple change would improve my customers’/clients’ experience? How can I add more value to my current services? In what way could I enhance my service? What would make it more affordable or desirable?
  3. Who could I contact or connect with today?
    What new or forgotten individual or business could I contact today to promote my business? Who do I know that could introduce me to a new client?
  4. What’s one improvement I could make to my sales approach today?
    Perhaps it’s been awhile since you’ve tweaked your sales approach. Freshen it up! Improve on it!
  5. What one roadblock or challenge can I eliminate or solve today?
    Or perhaps just address one small element of a current challenge. How would that make your life easier? What will you do?
  6. What incremental improvement can I make to one of my processes today?
    Chances are you have numerous processes in your business. Choose just one. How can you improve it: make it easier, faster, more user-friendly, etc.?

When we aim for progress, there’s no need to attack all six of those areas each day. But what if you tackled a different one each day, or even one per week? Even if you only made progress in one area each week, that would be 52 improvements in a year!

As you read those six questions, they may have sparked other ideas that you can explore. That’s the beauty of pursuing progress. What will you improve today?

Aim for progress and your business will excel!

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