Progress over perfection has become a popular saying in the health and wellness space, but at Lindywell, it’s been a core value since the very beginning. One thing we’ve learned over the years, however, is that it can be hard to let go of self-criticism in our modern world, where everyone’s successes are made public. Hello, comparison, shame, and judgment.
Striving for that false perception of perfection, however, slows you down, pulls you away from your most authentic self, and leaves you feeling defeated more often than not. When you can shift your focus instead to progress, the experience and journey become more enjoyable.
What’s more, the idea of perfection, well, it becomes less important.
If you’re still struggling to smooth those sharp, critical edges, we have a simple but powerful framework for you to embrace progress over perfection.
The Six Principles of Pilates
While there are a lot of ways to embrace the journey, at Lindywell, we find that Pilates is the best teacher. Specifically, the six guiding principles, which break down as follows:
Rather than striving for perfection, we focus on doing it well, feeling good, and staying connected. This progress-over-perfection approach is not always the norm in the fitness industry, particularly in the world of Pilates.
Here, we take a more grace-filled and progress-focused approach to Pilates and fitness as a whole, and you can do the same, on and off the mat. Now, let’s see how we can apply these six principles to the idea of progress over perfection.
Embrace Progress Over Perfection With the Six Principles
Here’s how you can use these six principles to truly embrace progress over perfection, and experience all the goodness that this shift can bring. As always, take what resonates and implement what feels good. Not all of these will feel relevant to your life, but one or two may be just what you need.
Commit fully but remain flexible.
Your desires and needs ebb and flow and so your approach to achieving goals should follow suit. To embrace progress over perfection, you need to commit to what you desire, but remember that the way you get there can evolve along with you.
In this way, what “perfection” looks like shifts as well. At one time, perfection may have been going to the gym five days a week before work. Now, with two kids at home, it looks like 10 minutes of Pilates two days a week with the Lindywell app.
In both cases, you were committed fully to what you desired, to feel great in your body, but how you got there changed as your circumstances shifted. That’s embracing progress over perfection.
Be conscious, deliberate, and intentional.
In Pilates, we refer to controlling your movement. Being intentional and deliberate, moving slowly and consciously. The same goes for embracing the progress over perfection mindset. When you focus on progress, you focus less on “getting it right” and more on being deliberate as you move toward what we desire.
Instead of wishing that what you want would just be here already, and getting frustrated when it’s not, you become more aware and in tune with yourself. Ask yourself questions like, Why am I frustrated? What could I change to make this feel easier or less stressful? Then take intentional action based on your honest and authentic answers.
Leverage the breath-body connection.
Think about a moment when you were trying to get everything just right. You may have been rushing around. Your mind was probably racing. You may have felt frantic and anxious. You were focused solely on getting it perfect.
Though you may not have realized it at the time, your breath was also likely shallow and fast. This is how we breathe when we’re anxious and stressed. This type of breathing then feeds that same state of anxious being.
The good news is, simply slowing and deepening your breathing can immediately shift you into a more calm and centered state of being. It’s in this state that you can let go of that idea of perfection, and instead, see that being “good enough” is in fact, perfect.
Do it well, but at your own pace and in your own way.
Perfection is a driving force when you feel the need to get something right according to someone else’s standards or because of what someone else might think. The idea of precision can be applied to progress over perfection as a reminder that you can do it well, but at your own pace and in your own way.
For example, if your goal is to make movement a part of your regular routine to feel stronger in your body, doing it well looks like:
- Figuring out what type of movement feels good for you and focusing on that.
- Adding it into your schedule when it’s feasible, rather than forcing it during a time that doesn’t work for you, like early in the morning.
- Trusting that your body will build strength if you commit—and it may not happen right away, but in the time that’s right for you.
Doing it your way, and doing it well based on your own standards, is what progress over perfection is all about.
Seek alignment above all else.
At Lindywell, we start every workout with centering. This is important when you’re on your mat, but I would argue it’s even more important off your mat. In life, you’re surrounded by people, experiences, and circumstances that can easily throw you off-center.
When you get out of alignment, you lose sight of what’s right for you. Then it becomes easy to start focusing on perfection according to someone or something else. When you stay in alignment, it’s easier for you to come back to your center, check in, let go of “perfection,” and focus back in on what feels good for you in each and every moment.
You may still veer off course, or get distracted by “perfection. When you practice coming back to your center, however, like with Pilates, you will always be able to get back into your own alignment.
Find yours and let it guide you.
Pilates always feels incredible, but if you’ve practiced even just a few times, you know how truly juicy it feels when you get into the flow. In that space, perfection doesn’t matter—what matters is staying connected to that movement and that experience.
Finding this flow in your life, and letting it be your guiding force, is key to embracing progress over perfection. The journey feels best when we create our own current and flow with that, rather than letting someone else define it for us.
Let’s Love the Journey
Striving for perfection is tiring. It also keeps us disconnected from ourselves and what we truly desire, creating anxiety and stress along the way. Use these strategies and ideas to connect back to you, find your flow, and focus on the journey that’s meant for you. When the journey feels amazing, reaching perfection doesn’t matter, because it’s already great where you are.