How to Focus on Progress, Not Perfection to Maximize Success

Ever since the advent of social media, humankind has seemingly become obsessed with the notion of achieving perfection. As you scroll through your social media timelines and newsfeeds, you probably see countless images of successful people living seemingly perfect lives. Hence, it is only natural that you’d want a piece of that perfection for yourself. However, you must realize that the pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. You should aim for progress, not perfection.

Progress, Not Perfection: One Thing at a Time

According to studies, this contemporary obsession with viewing success in terms of perfection can potentially hold you back from attaining your goals in the long run. This perpetual desire to be perfect burdens many and, ironically, can lead to feelings of unhappiness. So, how do you stop obsessing over perfection? The answer is surprisingly easy. By focusing on progress, not perfection, you can effectively minimize your frustration and emotional exhaustion.

Man smoothing tablecloth looking for progress not perfection.
This Perpetual Desire To Be Perfect Burdens Many And, Ironically, Can Lead To Feelings Of Unhappiness (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Perfectionism can stop you from reaching your goals in many ways. It can limit your field of observation and lead you toward a narrow mindset. As a perfectionist, you start viewing the outcomes of your actions in binary terms: either success or failure, with no potentially beneficial outcomes in between. 

The Pitfalls of Multitasking

In this desperate desire to attain perfection, at times you may often bite off more than you can chew. Multitasking might seem like a good strategy for those who want to get a lot of work done in a small amount of time. However, multitasking, in reality, can drastically hamper your efficiency and work performance.

Multitasking. young man wearing glasses and working with touchpad while sitting on the couch in office
Multitasking Actively Hinders An Individual’s Growth And Improvement Potential (Image Source: Shutterstock)

When you  split your attention between a lot of things at once, it negatively affects not only your retention but also your productivity. Your brain can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. So as you try to take on more things than you can handle, you essentially surrender your ability to finish any task successfully.

According to studies, due to inefficient allotment of concentration, multitasking actively hinders an individual’s growth and improvement potential. Some researchers claim that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

If you’ve ever felt frustrated because of unsatisfying results, even after pouring hours of effort into numerous tasks, realize that you need to adopt a mindset that focuses on prioritization and simplification. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t compromise productivity with jumbled concentration. If you focus on many things at once, it may become harder to get the results you want.

Instead, adopt a growth mindset that focuses on progress over perfection. Remind yourself that abilities and skills can be developed through dedication and hard work (even if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d like).

Here is a five-minute Youtube video about the harms of perfectionism and how you may overcome it.
Why Perfectionism Will Crush Your Productivity — And How To Stop It – Marie Forleo

Learn to Embrace Failure

Every person spends their life pondering how to become successful. And the answer to this question does not lie within biographies of successful people or TED talks delivered by famous entrepreneurs. 

Sad girl and supporting friend trying to solve a problem.
Perfectionist Often Feel The Blow Of Failure More Strongly Than Others (Image Source: Shutterstock)

The key to becoming successful is to first become familiar with the concept of failure. In order to achieve anything substantial in life, you must be prepared to experience failure as an inevitable part of life. Failure isn’t the enemy of perfection, it is part of progress.

Many who opt for perfect results often become bitter and lose hope when they are faced with unwanted results. Since learning has little place in the mind of a perfectionist, such people often feel the blow of failure more strongly than others. When you focus on progress, you take every failure as a chance to make and implement new plans. This can be extremely exciting for anyone who loves to experiment with innovative ways to reach their goals.

With every bump on the road, you should readjust rather than spending time feeling defeated. It is essential to know when to take time out or withdraw, for you are not a machine that can work continuously on the same project without taking a break. 

A major part of success is adopting healthy lifestyle habits and accepting that there is a time and place for everything, including work, pleasure, and rest. Remember, failure is not a reflection of your self worth or that of your abilities. It is merely a learning experience that can help you grow and develop.

Take a Deep Breath and Cultivate Patience

One of the most important aspects of a growth mindset is cultivating patience as you make progress toward perfection. For perfectionists, waiting can feel like absolute torture, especially when they are desperately focused upon reaping benefits and achieving their goals. Their consistent need for seeing instantaneous results makes them vulnerable to inner turmoil and self-doubt. Hence, instead of being disappointed, it is important to take a step back and look at the process you’ve made along the way. 

While perfectionism views the waiting period as a failure, progress takes waiting as another step on the ladder of success. Mishaps, hurdles, and accidents may slow you down, but it is patience that will get you through it all. 

Focusing on progress can make your growth journey not just bearable, but enjoyable as well. It can teach you to celebrate even the small wins in life. By practicing patience, you can protect your emotional and mental well-being even if you don’t get your desired results.

Here is a simple notion: a strong will, unwavering determination, and relentless patience are the three factors that are required to move forward and succeed in life. This has been a theme of the best startup business books out there. Hence, even if you don’t get the results you initially hoped for, don’t lose sight of your goals. It is crucial that you carefully protect your desire to succeed even in the face of imminent failure. Only through this sort of relentless perseverance can you succeed in life.

Ditch Perfection and Aim for Progress

Perfectionism can lead to a path of low self-esteem, excessive criticism, and a strong sense of disappointment. On the other hand, focusing on progress leads you toward contentment, learning, and growth. Planning ahead, embracing failure, and cultivating patience are good ways to overcome the habit of perfectionism. Focusing on progress helps you realize that self-doubt is not something shameful. Rather, it allows you to focus on your goals and make progress one step at a time.