Progress vs. Perfection: The healthy way to achieve your goals

The word perfect originates from 13th Century France meaning “consummate state or form, that degree of excellence which leaves nothing to be desired”.

Nothing to be desired…

We all strive for happiness and positivity in our lives; no matter how or what this manifests itself as. It is true, we ALL seek perfection of some kind.

Perfection is something I do not strive for, because in a world where everything is ‘perfect’… would we even exist? Would there be disparities in our identity and who we are? Would we all be the same if there was just one idea of what ‘perfect’ means?

For me, as a high-functioning autistic person; I see perfection as something VERY far out of my reach; not only because of my disability, but because of my mental health and how I see myself and position within the world.

This is because I see my life experiences as occasions and events that have helped to shape who I am, how others see me and how I adapt to an ever-changing world.

Progress is more important to me than perfection. Being able to set a goal and work towards it; but know that is challenging yet achievable at the same time.

Nothing is impossible, but when we seek perfection- we often find ourselves fixated on just those steps- and forgetting about what truly maters to us in our lives.

Positioning yourself in a world that is constantly evolving can be tough- especially as we are not JUST our name or our location, our gender identity, our career, our social ‘status’… we are SO much more. We are not just labels.

When you have mental health challenges it can be especially important to not dwell on perceived ‘imperfections’ as this can lower confidence and lead to negative behaviours and emotions. I know this is true as in the past I have sought so-called perfection and turned to self-destruction as a result.

I have learnt to accept the imperfections as parts of me that are progression points- things that make me human. The labels assigned to me are irrelevant and I try my best to focus on shaping my own identity.

To help me with this, I have found it useful to adopt a growth mindset. Where everybody is striving for perfection; I try to strive for progress instead.

To see those difficult times as moments I can move on from, shape, change mould and reform myself as someone who tries their best to face any challenge head on.

This does not necessarily mean having the confidence, but having the desire to see a change, to work towards goals but constantly reset those goals when you eventually reach them.

So, on World Mental Health Day, if you take anything from this short blog post… remember to:

  • Focus on what you are good at and do more of it
  • Find what you enjoy and do more of it
  • Perceived faults and imperfections DO NOT define you

Claud is a creative educator, theatre artist and mental health and disability advocate with a passion for inspiring others to reach their potential.