Man walking up some stairs towards progress

Why You Should Quit Striving For Perfection And Focus On Progress

I have so many people in my surroundings who live and breathe in the concept of being perfect in everything they do! I would be lying if I say that I have never felt the pressure to be perfect with each and everything because of peer pressure or by seeing them be like this! Trust me; I have, and it did not turn out well for me. 


Well, I believe in doing anything thoroughly in life, but do I strive to be perfect? Do I constantly feel like doing something a certain way so that it becomes perfect? NO. And who decides what is perfect and what is not? To one, living life like a nomad is a perfect life. To another, living a corporate life with hardcore discipline may be a perfect life. Who am I to say what is what? Even if you Google the meaning of perfect, “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics as good as it is possible to be” comes up. Now tell me, how would you know which one is “as good as it is possible to be?” Doesn’t the understanding of perfection differ from person to person? Isn’t it very subjective at the end of the day?


By now, you may understand I am not a perfect person, nor do I strive to be the perfect of all in any scenario whatsoever in my life. Having said that, I am a firm believer in progress in life. I believe change is the only constant and change comes in when you progress, be it personally, academically, professionally, physically, or mentally. Progress is what keeps a person motivated and realistic with every move in life.


Progress leads to Happiness, whereas Perfection leads to Stress.

The habit of making a perfect small cup of tea to make a life-changing decision can be stressful at times if you continuously look for having it all the way you want to. When you are habituated to make everything perfect, then you eventually lose sight of adapting to change and uncertainty. 


Man walking up some stairs towards progress


Many people I know have suffered in the lockdown because they felt they do not have control over their lives anymore and nothing they do can ever bring the perfect balance that they once had. I went through the same stress and ended up realizing that nothing in life can be controlled and perfected. We can only hope to have certain outcomes, but it always depends on how the universe, the higher power, or nature decides it to be.


So, one day, I just got up from bed and decided to not care at all to control and make my life perfect and started embracing the imperfections and chaos. And since then, I have never been happier. I started with making my bed, my breakfast, creating a to-do list, and tried every day to be grateful about everything I have and have not in my life. These small progressions are keeping me sane in the most difficult time that we are still going through.


Progress makes you Analytical, whereas Perfection leads to Continuous Criticism.

If you make your bed every day in the morning, then you will not like it if one day, by any chance, it is kept undone. It is the power of progress. Progress makes you goal-oriented and habituates you to achieving it at any cost. Again, if you make your bed every day straight for five days, on the sixth or seventh day, you will come across a better way to make your bed, maybe with a new bed sheet, or more comfy pillows. And that is how small progress makes you analytical, makes you focus more on reasoning and understanding of things that you may not use to do before. 


Man with headphones staring at his laptop


However, forcing to perfect anything makes a person scrutinize and criticize everything more than usual. This often leads to paranoia, overthinking, indecisiveness, and increases stress to be perfect always.


Progress is what keeps you going, whereas Perfection sometimes stiffens the Process.

Woman doing yoga on a bridge


Just how we wait for a new day, progress exactly motivates us to think of a better day, better time, and better future. If you have a good workout, you hope for better health. If you have a good semester, you hope for a good result and wish for a more awesome next semester. And if you are disciplined and dedicated with your work, you hope for your growth. Anything you do, any small step you take towards change and progress, makes you keep going. No one can take that away from you.



Striving for progress may one day make you the best version of yourself. Perfection, on the other hand, will only create stress, self-doubt, and the feeling of “not good enough”. Hence, focus on progress as much as you can, and give perfection a setback.

Tahiya Islam is a pharmacologist who is passionate about research, writing, and public speaking. She sees herself as a feminist and a social activist and challenges herself every day to do something good for herself and the world.

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