Focus on Progress Instead of Perfection

Have you ever set yourself up for a goal, not achieved it and felt like a failure? Some people stop setting goals because of this issue, and that is a tragedy indeed. I think it’s safe to assume that we all know setting goals is important. There have been countless studies showing that people in university or high school that set goals were found to be far more successful than those who never set any goals, when they were studied and compared later in life.

I talk about goals a lot, but goals need to make sense, and in my experience, along side the BIG goal, there needs to be goals along the way, and even a range of goals at the end (and after as well). This allows many things to occur, and among the most important, is the opportunity to focus on progress, instead of perfection.

If you set a goal to drop 40 pounds, and all you focus on is that one single goal, you are in for a tough ride! Let’s imagine that you gave yourself three months to drop the weight. Now, assuming you don’t watch television fat loss shows and have a ‘Hollywood’ expectation of dropping 10 pounds a week for four weeks, so you are at least a little realistic…. Obviously you realize that those shows are not entirely real, and that living without a job in a mansion, with a chef, a full time personal trainer, a private gym, a physiotherapist, a doctor, a massage therapist and cleaning staff – is not likely your reality. What I am saying is, if you are totally and only focused on that goal of 40 pounds, and that is your only goal, you are missing a few things.

First off, what happens when you do reach your goal of 40 pounds dropped? Do you celebrate and have a feeding binge, fall off plan, and go back to your old ways? (and gain 10 pounds back, then get depressed and gain another 10? Which leads to more depression, self abuse and gaining another 10? And another? (the yo-yo issue)

Do you arrive at 40 pounds dropped and think you should have set a bigger goal? (the ‘never good enough’ issue).

Do you arrive at 38 pounds dropped and get mad, disappointed, miserable and call yourself a failure? (the ‘hard on yourself for no reason’ option)

As a better option, what if you set lots of little goals, one big goal and then some follow up goals?

As the title of this article suggests, one opportunity of goal setting is around focusing on progress; all the little things along the way to your goal.

You start eating healthier and working with a trainer or go to classes on the way to your big goal. If your focus is on progress, you may notice that you are getting stronger, your clothes are fitting differently, you have more energy, you are sleeping more, napping less, getting sick less, and feeling better in general. Look at all that progress!

If you are only focusing on the one big goal – you might miss all of that, because “I haven’t dropped 40 pounds yet”. That would be tragic, and yet I see it all the time.

Story time: Apollo 11, the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon, was only on course for 3% of the time. Yes, that means they were OFF courses 97% of the trip, constantly correcting with each piece of new feedback, and they made it to the MOON. If they had focused only on perfection, they never would have made it!

Perhaps you remember the article I wrote on the success formula: Action, Feedback, Correction, Never Give Up. Same goes for you and your fitness and health goals: Take Action, get Feedback, make a Correction and Never Give Up. Focus on progress! Off track? No problem! Adjust and get back on track and keep going! I spoke to a client today that was upset because he only dropped two pounds this past week. That’s two pounds in a week I reminded him! Look ahead to summer….now that two pounds a week becomes 20 pounds, or 30. Look at the change in your life – you are more active, healthier, have more energy, all good things! All progress!

Perfection rarely exists, so if your goals all require perfection, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.

Here’s a homework assignment for you: Every night for a month, write out 10 successes from the day in a journal. Having a tough day? Write down that you brushed your teeth or got out of bed. There are no limitations, expectations or rules on what you define as a success. At the end of a month, read through your successes. I will guess you will be AMAZED!

We, as human beings, tend to way OVER estimate what we can do in a day (and then beat ourselves up for failing), but we totally UNDER estimate what we can do in six weeks, or a year. All you have to do is focus on progress, instead of perfection and you can fly to the moon!

Happy Training!

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This article was written by Scott McDermott, a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.



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