I am learning not to use excellence as a gauge of success. It has only led me to disappointment and self-punishment. When I see the perfect bodies of women in magazines, the perfect plates of food bloggers, and the incredible accomplishments of business people, I can’t help but see myself as a huge failure in comparison.
This has always been a problem for me, a stubborn perfectionist. But things are changing. Instead of beating myself up in this way, I am starting to think that progress, even in minute increments is success. I am starting not to look at others to determine how well I’m doing, but to look to the past to measure how far I have come.
Take running for example. I am certainly not the world’s best runner. Far from it. I had never really tried it until a few weeks ago. My first mile took me well above 12 minutes to complete and left me completely exhausted. Two weeks later I’m at 10:03 and my goal is to get it under 10 minutes by the end of the month. Each time I have come closer to my goal and it feels incredible to make that kind of progress.
However, last night I had a conversation with a friend who mentioned that she once ran 5km in 20 minutes. My jaw dropped and I was in complete awe of her. But whereas in the past I may have been discouraged because her ability is so far above mine that I couldn’t dream of achieving that kind of excellence, now I can be truly joyful for her accomplishment and at the same time I can be very proud of what I have done.
This is only one example of course, and it’s a lesson I need to keep learning in many areas of my life. But it is certainly freeing to stop comparing myself with excellence which is unattainable in the near future, but instead start comparing myself with the myself of a little while ago.
Perhaps one day I’ll run a marathon, but for now it’s baby steps.