Strive for progress, not perfection.
This saying has resonated within me over the last few days, as I’ve been developing new, healthy habits and changing old, unhealthy ones.
On learning a new language, all I can say is that I’ve had a few successes coupled with a few failures. My definition of success is that if I spent some time learning something of the language (usually 15 min.), I’ve achieved my goal for the day. At the same time, I’ve had days that have gone all wrong and I couldn’t even spend 10 min. learning the language. But these failures have been learning experiences for me – I’ve learned that it’s important to keep a routine and follow it every morning, to ritualize.
A relevant saying comes to mind. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
It’s important to stick to a routine if you want progression in something. The plain truth is that if you don’t make time for something, it’s not going to happen. Simple. If you don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen later. Rather, you’ll keep postponing whatever you want to do, while time flies by.
So ritualizing has become a part of my life, so much more than before. The best part about it is that I choose the routine and the way I want to plan out my day. But even then I have these failures where I just don’t have the self-discipline and motivation to pursue something. Then, at the end of the day when I assess myself, I feel frustrated, angry at myself for not sticking to the routine/making time for that habit.
This is where I’ve learned another lesson: Think about your future self. Basically, when you don’t want to do something – let’s say exercise – think about what you would say or how you would feel, in the future (at the end of the day). You would be annoyed and be let down. So then you would do that task in order to not to feel that way later, and later you would thank your “past” self! It’s a nice cycle of self-gratitude 🙂
In this way, I’ve learned it’s all about progress. It doesn’t matter even if you’re taking baby steps, because eventually those small steps will create habits. And with that, I would like to conclude with a final quote from a great Chinese philosopher.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius