Progress, Not Perfection

As a recovering alcoholic, I give credit to my roots in AA for many of my “zen” moments.  So many times, life gets in the way of my positive thoughts and best mindful practices… and I remember quotes like, “We seek progress, not perfection.”

That simple idea gives me permission to let go of my own impossible standards, accept a few failures in my journey toward better health and spiritual growth, and just move on and make improvements tomorrow.

As an example, I included a picture of the back landing off my kitchen.  Eventually, this will not be here.  My husband intends to put a balcony across the entire back of the house, so the stairs extending from this little porch will be moved, the roof line will change, and the railing will be replaced.  Of course, the floor will be different as well.

So… imagine this space as if I had taken a “before” picture.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

If you look at the top left, you’ll get an idea what the whole area looked like… just scrap wood holding things together, the floor had been patched with two overlapping pieces of sheet metal (dangerously tacked down with nails into the rusty pieces).  The iron railing is peeling and corroded.

Since it will all be replaced next year, it really didn’t make sense to spend any money fixing it up, but I couldn’t stand that this little pocket of peace overlooking our back yard was pretty much impossible to use – a complete waste of a great spot for enjoying the mural I’d painted on the garden wall!

With just $200, I decided there was no place for perfection in this moment.  I just needed to do what I could for now.

I totally cheated.  I threw a coat of paint around the edges of the porch, bought an indoor/outdoor rug to put down, nailed around the edges, and an inexpensive little table and chairs, along with a few hanging plants and planters.

So… far from what it will eventually be – but it’s fine for now, and a happy place to be!  I spend cooler mornings out here, enjoying a cup of coffee and gratitude journal time.

Like me, it didn’t have to be perfect, just useful.  By letting go of “I’ll do it perfectly tomorrow,” I was able to piece together something that the whole family uses in different ways.  Bryce does homework here sometimes, and Bobby likes to check out his progress on our evolving yard, and even cooks out on the terrible grill we bought to fit the space.  The steaks, burgers and fish taste just fine!

The lesson in this for me is to realize, once again, that just getting started and doing the best we can with what we have is enough.  Abundance flows not from the end result, but the little steps we take along the way to make things around us better.

All the little things add up to our whole lives, and the more I let go of perfectionism, the more I see things like this little haven in my life, coming into reality as less than perfect, but beautiful anyway.

Author: Anne Beck

Anne Beck is a real estate agent, artist, designer, mother, wife and creator of an abundant life in New Orleans. This blog is the manifestation of her life as a writer, recovering alcoholic and self-improvement junkie, shared now as her journey continues into pursuits of gratitude and joy.