Fresh Views

Progress, Not Perfection

Progress not perfection on a recent mountain trek Tami and her husband took on a Tennessee get away

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” – quote attributed to Mark Twain

This is Tami writing today. I sat down at my desk to take a quick look at my email and glanced down at a post-it-note I had stuck to my computer monitor several years ago. It had simply written on it: Progress, not perfection.These impactful words were instilled in me by a long-time mentor and I keep them posted as a continual reminder.

I’ve found this “progress, not perfection” mindset encourages focus on smaller achievements…instead of focusing solely on the end goal. It has allowed me to get things done in a quality manner without fixating on an ideal outcome that might not necessarily happen. A personal example, when working on one of my book manuscripts, thinking about the end goal of a finished book and the desire for it to be “perfect” left me feeling anxious and overwhelmed. However, when breaking the work into manageable chunks I could recognize progress. 

“Progress, not perfection” can help us lean into the realistic and practical, and  acknowledge, accept and enjoy things.. even if they aren’t perfect. In one of our recent blogs on the “growth mindset” we shared how the growth mindset draws focus to one’s own progress. People who have a growth mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills,their skills can improve over time. Managing diabetes is not about being “perfect”. Life happens. The reality is that things will not always be perfect. But progress is the goal. For instance, progress toward achieving a healthy A1C or progress toward spending  more time in range.

In taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education, we can step alongside our clients/patients and support them in fostering this growth mindset and focus on progress, not perfection. 

  • For example if you hear a client/patient someone say “I’m not good at counting carbs”, you can encourage them to shift to saying, “I”m not good at counting carbs YET.”  
  • Or maybe you hear “I can’t walk 30 minutes for exercise – I get too tired”, you again can encourage them to shift saying “I can’t walk 30 minutes for exercise YET” and turn focus to their progress, that they’ve increased from 5 minutes duration to 15 minutes. 

It’s not about perfection, but about progress and getting better. It’s about acknowledging and giving credit where credit is due. It’s about growing over time. Will you join us in adopting a “progress, not perfection” mindset? 

If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

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Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.