the enemy of progress is perfection

…therefore, strive for PROGRESS, not perfection.

(So…I definitely missed the obligatory New Years post. But since it’s Chinese New Year, that’s pretty much the same right? 🙂 PS, I haven’t forgotten about the last 2 days of Chile…the rest will resume shortly!)

I have recently come to recognize that one of my greatest weaknesses is how accurately the first part of this quote applies to my life. A mantra that used to appeal to me was, “Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land among the stars”, which people use to motivate them to dream. Landing amongst stars isn’t bad at all; the problem is, for a perfectionist, this mantra is terrible. For a perfectionist, once we reach the stars, we realize that what we really want is still the moon, and anything less is devastating to our perfectionist EQ. So, similarly, for a time, I got discouraged from not reaching the moon. And, instead of forgetting about it, I reacted in the most unhealthy way: by thinking, “if I can’t reach my moon, why even try at all? It is all pointless, and society can produce great people that don’t have to be me.”

It was pretty bad.

Thankfully, I knew I couldn’t keep that mindset for long. People do not function by operating at extremes, either the extreme right or the extreme left.  I know I wasn’t happy trying to be perfect, but I still got stuff done, and I was DEFINITELY not happy NOT doing anything. Early on 1st year of med school, failing embarassingly on a project I signed up for taught me an important lesson: I needed to learn to say NO. I needed to learn my limits, learn to prioritize things I can do and forget things with low yield, and find that balance between underwork and overambition. In short, I needed to learn to be MATURE.

Self discipline is something many people struggle with, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t struggle to keep up with it. Self discipline is a vital skill in order to progress in life. It is also the bane of my existence. However, I learned the hard way that ignoring self discipline and trying to do windsprints to nowhere gets you to precisely that location: no where. Training for a half marathon was my first practice in self discipline and literally changed my life. I went from thinking I could never run more than 2 miles to running 13.1, from having no $$ to raising $1400 for cancer with the help of awesome friends and family, and realized that when there is a will, there IS a way. That way just means a PLAN, and what one needs to remember is that you NEED to have a plan, not just a will.

Two articles I read at the end of 2013 were reminders of my need to continue to progress on this life lesson of self discipline. I realized in 2013 that it is ok to have dreams, and you CAN reach them, but you need to be kind to yourself during the process and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Make realistic dreams, so that 1. You can actually reach them and 2. You can go beyond them when you do reach them!  Two articles from waitbutwhy, on how to beat procrastination, and the Business Insider, on the secret behind Google’s productivity, were extremely useful in helping me establish this plan to accomplish my resolution for this upcoming year: to be consistently PROGRESSIVE. Progress does NOT happen overnight, but huge progressions in society DO occur OVER TIME. That’s all they need: time, and patience. No, I’m not going to be able to post 10 blog entries in a matter of one month, but, if I consistently progressively post at LEAST a couple a month, over the course of the year I have this whole collection of posts that didn’t take that much effort to begin with!

So there lies my new years resolution (albeit 2 months late :P). Yes, there are many more specifics, but my main resolution this year is to strive for PROGRESS, in multiple areas of my life, and not get discouraged by PERFECTION.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but at the end of this year, I want to look back and be proud of the progress, whatever size it is, that I’ve made with self discipline.

PS:

A brief slideshow of pics from my phone/point and shoot:

2013, the year I learned what it meant to listen to my limits, love myself, and fully rely on and give my career to God (now, just to trust Him completely for everything else :))…you’ve been so good. Thank you for providing people to get in the way of my overambitious goals and keep me in check. And thank you everyone for being  part of my 2013 🙂

Cheers to an equally awesome 2014–the year of the horse! 新年快乐!

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. –1 Corinthians 12:10

 

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