Progress Over Perfection

There’s one phrase that I repeat over and over again to the men that I coach.  

“Two steps forward, one step back, is still moving forward.”

The point is that just because you might be falling short sometimes, doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress.   If you’re fighting, if you’re working hard, if you’re determined, you will continually move forward, even if you aren’t successful 100% of time.

Too often, we strive only for perfection.  While we should strive for excellence, we should be concentrating on the times when we’re successful, instead of beating ourselves up when we fail.  

I see this all the time when working with men battling porn addiction.  They try to quit porn and go for a set amount of time with no relapses, which isn’t a bad thing, but the problem comes when the “streak” ends.  Many men feel like they’ve failed when they have a setback.   But they haven’t failed.  They’ve only taken one step back.

Let’s say a man goes two weeks without watching porn, then slips up and watches porn and masturbates.  He may think he failed.  But he didn’t!  He was successful 13 days in a row and fell short one day.  That’s 13 wins and one loss.  

To use a baseball term, that’s a batting average of .928!  You wouldn’t call a guy who got on base 13 times out of 14 a failure.

Stop trying to go for the hitting streak.  Instead head to the plate looking to improve your batting average.

We need to shift our mindset from despairing over failures to celebrating victories.  Imperfect progress is better than being flawless while standing still.  Build momentum by achieving those small victories day after day.  You don’t have to take a giant leap forward every day.  Just focus on doing the little things right consistently.  Then after a time, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.  Sure, the path may not be perfectly straight, but you’re in a better place than you were before.

Progress is not a straight line.  There are detours.  There are bumps in the road.  The important thing is to keep pressing forward.  Keep fighting and don’t let those hindrances hold you back.

Here’s something you can do to help you begin to focus on the wins instead of the losses.

At the end of each day, in your journal, write down three wins that you achieved that day.  They don’t have to be something major, just three things that you succeeded in.  Sometimes just getting through the day in one piece is a win!  Writing down these wins will help you shift your mindset from perfection to progress.  You’ll start focusing on how you are winning and moving forward instead of how you might have fallen short.  It will help you build momentum.  And when you do slip up, you can look back at those lists and see how many more times you were successful versus how many times had a setback.   You will see your batting average rise over time.

My challenge to you is to focus on progress not perfection.  Just because you’re not perfect doesn’t mean you’re failing.  Your stone may have some rough edges, but that doesn’t mean the stone is worthless.  You don’t have to scrap it and start over.  You can knock off the rough edges and build it into something great.

Focus on Progress over Perfection.


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Published by Timothy Reigle

I’m Timothy Reigle, the founder of Into The Wilderness Ministries. After overcoming a fifteen year addiction to porn and sex, I have made it my life’s mission to help other men break free from the bonds of addiction. As an author, coach, and chaplain, I work with men to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity.

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