Running

Strive for Progress, not Perfection

Set goal. Start off highly motivated. See initial results. Positive feedback maintains level of motivation. Keep at it (whatever it is). Start seeing diminishing returns OR life gets in the way. Motivation starts flagging. Keep at it (maybe even try harder, to try and induce the same fabulous! initial results). Frustration sets in. As a last-ditch attempt, some crazy scheme is resorted to. Progress stalls completely. Throw in the towel and sit down to a bar of chocolate (because chocolate really DOES solve every problem that ever exists).

Sounds familiar? It doesn’t matter what the initial goal is, be it clearing one’s debt, giving up a vice, learning a new skill, some sort of health-related goal, or vanity-driven pursuit; chances are, we’ve all been through this wash-rinse-repeat cycle. During the goal-setting stage, it is easy to create a fantasy of how things will be once we have achieved our goal, by the deadline we have set ourselves, of course.

There are several problems to this mentality. Like a race, we rush to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest time, thinking that when we arrive, what? Like an inanimate object we will permanently rest at Point B, and life has no influence on us? That once we “get there”, everything will be perfect, and stay that way?

This is the reason why a lot of people who embark on weight loss regimes don’t get lasting results – they hurry to drop the weight without giving any thought to creating lasting healthy habits to maintain it for a lifetime.

This is a case of the journey being more important than the destination, and it’s sometimes really hard to remember this when we desperately want to attain what we’re after.

The other problem is believing that once the job is done, it’s done for good. That we can rest on our laurels and call it a day.

This is the reason why debts are never entirely cleared off – simply fixating on the negative balance as the sum to catch up on does not take into account that new expenditures are constantly being added to that sum.  This also is the reason why despite 10 years of piano lessons and multiple examinations, the Ninja Turtle today is unable to play more than a few repertoires on the piano – because she spent the subsequent 9 years going nowhere close to a piano.

Reaching Point B is really just the beginning.

Or rather, to not discourage people, Point B is just the first checkpoint in a series of checkpoints for the rest of one’s life. The ultimate Point B is the moment one dies, because unless one is dead, there really is no reason or excuse to stop trying. The sooner we realise that life is nothing but one big continuous and perpetual motion, the sooner we will stop rushing towards that end goal.

Whatever that end goal may be, here is a universal truth in every situation. Believing in perfection is likely to be the biggest obstacle in the journey. The Ninja Turtle spent her adolescence in a haze of perpetual disappointment because she bought into the idea of perfection, until GodzillaPin taught her to see that good enough is good enough. Feeling defeated because one fails to attain this imaginary “perfect” inevitably makes one suffer from what’s-the-point-itis. Dangerous disease, that.

There is a cure for this, however. If ever you find yourself in a position where, despite having put in a great amount of effort for a period of time and feeling like you’re still impossibly far away from your goal, simply pause and take a look back at how far you’ve come since you’ve started on the journey.

Look back once in a while - you'll get quite a remarkable scenery.

Look back once in a while – you’ll get quite a remarkable scenery.

Recognise the effort it took you to get this far.

Rejoice in the distance you’ve covered thus.

Respect the distance before you and commit to giving as much as you did when you started the journey.

Recall how you felt at the start of the journey.

Remember that “perfect” is the devil of a word, and if you wish to succumb to its tempting notions, you may as well use it to your advantage. You are perfect as you are. C’est vrai.

It’s saying something when in the process of searching for synonyms, the search yielded the following results for progress:

Advancement

Improvement

Development

Growth

Amelioration

When a search for synonyms of perfection was subsequently made, the computer froze for a good ten minutes. It then had to be restarted. I think this basically encapsulates the entire idea of what we’re trying to say.

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