Perfectionism Is The Enemy of Progress: Just Be Better Than Yesterday

You’ve spent long hours in the gym drilling technique, put in those countless rounds of sparring, you’ve done your strength and conditioning routines dutifully. You were as ready as you could be. Or so you thought.

Things didn’t go your way at the tournament or in your bout. Maybe you were overlooked for a belt promotion…again! No matter how hard you try, things never seem to work out perfectly.

Don’t get things twisted. That is the process.

Progress is not achieved by an insistence on perfection. It is the accumulation of incremental improvements building into something larger over time.

Anything worth having takes time. An insistence on perfection at all times will see us get bogged down; trapped in frustration at a future that hasn’t yet arrived.

Avoid this trap of perfectionism. To make continuing progress, simply strive to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. Here’s how:

Eat The Elephant One Bite at a Time

There’s a well known quote attributed to Desmond Tutu, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.”

What he meant by this was that seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished gradually via the completion of smaller, more manageable tasks.

In terms of your martial arts training, this means that each class completed, open mat attended, and heavy bag pounded, propels you incrementally forward ensuring a better you steps on the mats today than did yesterday.

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way, and That’s OK

There’ll be times when you’ll need to drag yourself by the scruff of the neck to the gym. No questions about it – sometimes self-love needs to be tough love.

Life can be hard. You need to learn to recognise when to be understanding of yourself if you are to continue on the path of progress.

Occasional failures are the lot of being human. You may be suffering from jet lag, financial worries, a family crisis, there are a myriad of things that life can throw at you that may impede your progress, temporarily.

The key word here being temporarily.

Don’t unduly beat yourself up if the harsh winds of fate blow you off course. Just be sure to grab the wheel and get back on track as quickly as possible.

Avoid overindulging in sorrow or wallowing in regret. This is energy-sapping, pointless, and one thing is for sure, more bad days are guaranteed.

Take your blows, pick yourself up off your arse, and get back to work. And, if you find that difficult you need to get in touch with your inner Bad Cop.

Know When To Be Bad Cop

Nobody cares about your health and fitness journey more than you do. You may be lucky enough to have some very supportive cheerleaders in your life, but ultimately you are responsible for you.

Listen, I know your mum or wife thinks you’re great regardless. You could lay in bed to noon eating pizza every day and you’d still be her golden boy.

If she caught you red-handed pilfering the Mona Lisa, she’d probably turn a blind eye. That’s because she’s the eternal Good Cop in the movie of your life.

But, kindness can kill just as surely as you can be murdered by meanness. There’ll be times when you’ll need to take on the role of Bad Copin your own biopic.

Take stock of your mindset daily to ensure that you are making that incremental progress.

Are you meeting your daily goals? Are you achieving your training targets? No matter how modest they may be, they’re important.

If in your daily interrogation of yourself you find the suspect needs to be leaned on, don’t be afraid to call out your inner Bad Cop. As we said earlier, there are times when true self-love love is of the tough variety.

The Bad Cop holds us to account. He is merciless in pursuing the truth, driving the weakness and excuses from our minds and bodies in the process. Ultimately, all this is for the good of our own development.

If you find yourself swimming in a sea of excuses for your failures, pass that truncheon and let your inner Bad Cop bully you back onto the path of righteousness once again.

There’s no doubt that aiming for perfection is a lofty and admirable goal, but it is an unrealistic expectation to have of ourselves in our daily lives. It can be self-defeating. It can make us brittle in the face of the inevitable and temporary defeats that are actually opportunities to build strength in body and mind.

Progress is all about our perspective. You either succeed in your endeavours the first time, or you learn through the process. If you choose the latter you will come back the next day a better you than yesterday and that’s progress.

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When one door closes, another opens. The journey never ends. This is the life I choose to live. This is my story.

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