Small Steps, Huge Results

Seeking perfection in your work and business is admirable. But while being a perfectionist is a good quality, it sometimes can get in the way of completing a task. Fearing mistakes can make problem solving challenging while preventing creativity. 

Being confident in your work keeps you and your staff positive while working on projects—allowing you to remain focused, empowered and energized. By focusing on making progress rather than meeting perfection, you can find more satisfaction in the accomplishment of everyday tasks and goals.

Focusing on progress will highlight the fact that everyday tasks and goals are actually baby steps on the way to achievement of the highest standards and accomplishments. While focusing on progress we learn to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. 

Here are six progress-oriented strategies you can use that will free you and your staff from excessive self-criticism while increasing your creativity, satisfaction and confidence.

There is really no such thing as perfection in life. Know that perfection is not an oasis, but rather a mirage. You’ll never arrive, because it simply isn’t there. Once you realize that everything in this universe is flawed, you can relax and focus on improvement, or progress. You will find that as your confidence builds your freedom of thought increases. You now have lots of room to take on new and exciting challenges.

Practice intelligent goal setting. Determine your ultimate goal. Then set do-able, measurable goals at definite intervals along the journey that you know you can reach.  At each of these intervals you can measure progress, adjust your sights, and make changes if necessary. It’s easy to slip into a self-defeating pattern by setting too-difficult goals and standards. If you tell yourself you can only accept the utmost perfection in everything you do, you rob yourself of the joy that comes from celebrating each and every small accomplishment regardless of the result.

At the end of each day, take an inventory of anything and everything you have accomplished and celebrate it. Progress is not exclusively linear. Be sure to include an upbeat attitude, positive thought process, kind words and generous actions on your list of accomplishments. You most likely have gained character strengths, leadership skills, personal insights and communication skills during any given day, week or month at work. It’s a good idea to begin recognizing all of your accomplishments and gaining greater resolve from them. You should encourage employees to do the same. As they see their character growing on the job, they will also take more ownership of their work.

There is real reward in enjoying the journey and accepting your work without judging it. Perfectionism often creates a cycle of procrastination. The standard is set so high that you find yourself overwhelmed and paralyzed from the beginning. Exercise your non-judgmental attitude toward others as well, regarding everything around you as a work in progress. Do not be too critical of yourself or the staff.

Give yourself permission to grow, and to embrace missteps. Some of the greatest discoveries were a result of blunders, or were learned by trial and error. If you stop making mistakes, you stop progressing and learning. Learn to value the process and you will find that your creativity, productivity and happiness will increase exponentially.

Never underplay your accomplishments. Banish negative talk downplaying your achievements or ruling them unimportant. Discounting the positive can lead to not enjoying the satisfaction in a job well-done. Instead, encourage yourself and others around you by recognizing the significance of smaller tasks as part of the ultimate goal. Gain enthusiasm and confidence in you work by visualizing yourself closer to the final result.

Try consistently to put these strategies into play, and you will be surprised as you exceed your own expectations. Constantly focus on progress and learn to have fun along the way, celebrating each baby step. 

About the Author:

Marti MacGibbon, CADC II, ACRPS, is a certified mental health professional, inspirational motivational speaker, veteran standup comic, author and member of the National Speakers Association. To find out more, visit or call (310) 210-4674.