Daily Archives: January 2, 2012

Day 22: It’s OK To Be Imperfect

Day 22: It’s OK to be imperfect.  (If you just landed here, you can catch up by, starting with the first post in the series.)

Brene Brown's book is a must-read for every imperfectionist. And perfectionist.

Wisdom from the comments:
Arlene Holtz noticed, “I have also skipped a couple of days of writing since I started – not deliberately (well, at least not consciously). . . . What was different for me this time, was I noticed I hadn’t written, and even “missed” the writing. In fact, I was really relieved to get back to writing the very next day. It feels like it is becoming a real part of who I am.”

Marianna Dougherty wrote, “I do sitting meditation and sometimes get great revelations as a result. Not during the meditation but later in the day or another day. It’s the process of quieting my mind and the daily practice that brings about results.”

Diane Becka had no problem with walking everyday, “On the days I don’t want to, I do it mostly because I haven’t missed a day. So even in bad weather I find a way to walk just so I can feel I’ve kept this commitment to myself,”  but hit a rough patch on the writing, “Journaling has been another matter. I just couldn’t make myself start. I bought more blank books, new pens. Nothing. Every day I would read how much the writing was helping others, all that you were learning from it, and the more I read, the harder it was. I let the expectations I had grow until there was no way I could meet them and it was overwhelming.”

Bo Mackison said, “I find it hard to do the writing and the walking, maybe if I had made the commitment to do one, got that down and then added the other it would have been easier. ANd I have no ambition to walk in cold or snow or sleet or winter mix. . .”

*     *     *     *    *

What causes most people to quit a new habit? The same thing that causes most people to abandon their New Year’s resolutions? It’s not that the goals are too lofty (unless made in a hurry under the influence of drink or peer pressure), but the mistaken belief that one mis-step “ruins it all.” It doesn’t. One mis-step, one missed day, one incomplete page is just that–an imperfection. It doesn’t invalidate the intention or the goal.

Quote from Brene Brown's book.

It does, however, make it easier to add another missed day to the stack. And that’s where the self discipline comes in. If you skip a day, be aware of it, be conscious, make it a choice. And the next day, make it a choice to return.

Change doesn’t happen all at once. Change happens when we replace one action with another. And the more often the replacement happens, the more likely we are to repeat, until we have a new habit. In an email I received, someone insisted that if they forgot one day, they would have to “start over,” they added, “with nothing.” I know that’s how AA does the counting, but I don’t think that’s true with journaling. You have something. You have begun to walk down a path. You are exploring your motives and excuses. That’s not nothing.

Of course, if you want something positive to happen, you will have to kick yourself occasionally to keep doing it, and you will have to do the work, but you will always do your work imperfectly, because that is the reason we keep learning–every imperfection is a chance to learn something new.

What have you been learning as you go along?

--Quinn McDonald is a journaler and creativity coach who is exploring the habit of journal writing with readers of the blog.

Image: the saying from Brene Brown is available for purchase from this site. I am not recommending it, I’m simply letting you know where it’s from.