by Niall Doherty

Aiming for perfection is an easy trap to fall into when you try to make a positive change in your life.

Perfection is an impossible goal, and you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for failure if you set out to achieve it. A much better plan is to aim for improvement. Small, constant improvements, day after day, week after week.

Don’t beat yourself up if today didn’t turn out perfectly. Ask yourself, was it better than yesterday? or was it better than this day last week? this day last year?

Besides frustration and dejection, aiming for perfection can also lead to inaction. That is, you don’t even know where to begin so you don’t begin at all. Examples of this:

  • Timmy realizes that eating animal products is a pretty bad idea, but he can’t fathom the thought of eliminating all animal products from his diet. And so, he doesn’t eliminate any.
  • Sally would like to help out at a local homeless shelter, but she’s worried she won’t be able to commit to helping out every Thursday night. And so, she doesn’t help out at all.

Both Timmy and Sally have analysis paralysis (also known as procrasterbation). They’re thinking it’s either all or nothing, perfection or bust. Timmy would of course be much better off if he started with something as simple as Meatless Mondays, while Sally’s help at the homeless center would surely be appreciated even on an irregular basis.

What positive change have you been postponing, telling yourself you’ll make it happen when you have more time/money/whatever? What one small step could you take immediately to move you closer to your goal?