Stress Managment and Mastery: Progress vs. Perfection

David Bowie once sang, "Ch-ch-changes, tryin' to face the strain."

And though working on changes in our lives can be difficult at times, it really doesn't have to be such a strain.

Where did we get the notion that change has to be such a struggle? And what would it be like if we could make change easier?

That's what I have spent most of my career doing, finding the simplest, fastest and most effective ways to help people get the changes they want and need.

With that in mind, let's look at one of the major roadblocks to achieving lasting change, and then look at what to do about it.

Perfection vs. Progress

The failure to understand the important distinction between perfection and progress is a major stumbling block to lasting change.

Far too many people get stuck in demanding perfection from themselves and from others.

This leaves little or no room for appreciating the progress that might be happening.

So let's take a look and discover whether you are demanding perfection or appreciating progress. And then most importantly, how to focus on progress.

Demanding Perfection

So many people are stuck in the myth that in order to change, you have to do it perfectly, with no slip-ups. That's just not reality.

Here are some signs that you may be stuck in demanding perfection:

If you slip up just once, i.e., you go off your diet for one night, you say the heck with it and trash the whole plan.

You feel constantly defeated when trying to change.

You try to change too much all at once. There is just no way to get rid of 30 pounds in one month without amputation.

Appreciating Progress

Even the smallest amount of progress is still progress. It's still change. Here's how to focus on appreciating the progress:

Celebrate all improvements, even the smallest changes.

If a change looks too big to accomplish, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts, i.e. Just for today, I will ...

Do a little bit more, go a little bit further, each day.

There's the story of a middle-aged man who decided to take up running. The first day, he could only make it past his own house before he had to stop. The next day he went one house further, the next day another house further and so on. In less than a year, he entered and completed a marathon - that's 26-plus miles.

Recognize the process of change. Most folks think that once they learn something new, the changes happen all at once. Sometimes that's true, but more often change happens in four stages:

1. You learn some new skills, but do the same old thing that doesn't work again.

2. You catch yourself in the middle of doing the same old thing that doesn't work, stop and then do something new and different.

3. You stop yourself before you do the same old thing that doesn't work, and do something new and different.

4. You just naturally do something new and different.

Change does not have to be a strain, or even very difficult at all. You just have to enjoy the progress and keep at it.

Remember, in the battle between the rock and the river, the river always wins because the river just keeps at it.

For more tips and tools for stress management and stress mastery visit Tools for Successful Living

In The News:

Breaking the tension  Daily Pioneer
5 Ways Men Can Reduce Stress  The Good Men Project
Stress Relief for Overwhelmed Women  Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
Eat These Foods to Reduce Stress and Anxiety  Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
Doing What Matters in Times of Stress  World Health Organization

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