I am a planner. Every time I have ever thought about a big task or goal my first step was always making a plan. I would do research and gather all sorts of knowledge on ways that other people have accomplished that goal and I would create the perfect plan to get there. We are talking detailed spreadsheets. This has been my pattern for every goal I’ve ever set, whether it be running a marathon, losing weight, starting a business, or getting out of debt. The plan has always been the key to my success.
But life throws curveballs. This year, they have seemed to come at me daily. The plan couldn’t always be followed and I would let this detour from perfect execution stop all progress. One misstep would mean that the plan had failed and it was time to come up with a new one, or that my goal was out of reach. If I had a bad run, the whole week of training was a failure and I would have to figure out how to make up for it next week. If I had a bowl of ice cream on a Wednesday…well I guess my diet didn’t start this week. Maybe next week would be better.
Starting over at Day One….
This mentality of always needing to find perfection in a strategy had me stuck starting over and over again at day one. I completely threw out and disregarded any and all progress I had made for a “fresh start” or an “I’ll do better next time.” It stopped me from looking at all of the great runs that I had, or days I ate really healthy, or days I paid off debts, and only left me focusing on the mistakes, the set backs, the failures. I couldn’t follow my plan perfectly. Time to start over and try again.
But guess what? Perfection doesn’t exist. And striving for it will only make you tired and disappointed. I still make plans. For everything. But now, every time I make a plan there are two lines, the planned outcome, and what actually happened. I leave space for off days, for life to happen, room to be human and let my best be good enough.
This year has taught me that plans aren’t and have never been the path to my success. Success comes from setting a goal, and continuing to move towards it consistently. I don’t start over anymore. I choose to get a little bit better, and a little bit closer to that goal every single day. I’ve traded perfection for progress. The pursuit of progress keeps me making today better than yesterday and that is a plan I can follow.