I love the New Year, don’t you? It’s a fresh slate, alive with potential and possibility. I love planning and dreaming for the next twelve months. I often make lists of all the things I want to change and accomplish.
But you know what has happened to me in the past? I didn’t come up with a plan for sticking to the things I wanted to change or dreams I wanted to work toward. They became dreams for someday instead of part of my reality for today.
Why does this happen to us all so often?
It’s because our dreams and goals are either:
- Too vague, like lose weight or get healthy. How much weight? What does healthy mean?
- Or too intimidating, like write a book or run a marathon. We can get overwhelmed by all that these dreams require. We can be so afraid of getting started that we don’t do anything. As a recovering perfectionist, I know this too well.
But here are three things 2018 taught me that may help you this year:
Be specific: When you get detailed about what you really want to accomplish, it sets you up for success because it’s attainable. Take some of the examples above and make them more specific. Instead of saying you want to lose weight this year, change it to losing five pounds before March. Or change the goal of writing a book this year to writing a chapter each week. Then make an achievable plan tailored to these specific goals.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Last year I wanted to start a book proposal for my book, The Perfectionist’s Guide to Mothering. (Before a book is published, authors write a book proposal that is presented to agents or publishing companies convincing them why the book should be published. It also includes three sample chapters of the material.)
I conducted research and attended a writer’s conference before I began. When I arrived home from the conference in July, I started working on it a little at a time. The old me would have believed the best way to complete it would be by spending all day on it every day for a few weeks. But what actually worked best for me was spending small batches of time writing it every week. Small consistent bites over time eventually conquer the elephant.
I finished my book proposal at the end of November. With a few final tweaks from an editor friend and some advance readers, I’m sending it out to agents and publishers this month. (I would truly cherish your prayers as it is sent out into the world. In the meantime, I’m still conducting research and looking for more women to fill out my perfectionist survey. I’ll send you a special gift as my thank you. You can access it here.)
Done is better than perfect: It feels so good to have my proposal finished. Although I’m still making a few final edits, I realize it probably won’t be perfect. Thankfully, that’s not really my goal anymore. But it took me such a long time to get here! The old me would often be frozen by fear if I couldn’t do something perfectly. So, I sometimes wouldn’t even try.
But that isn’t the kind of life God wants us to live. He wants us to be free to dream, take risks, and have faith. We don’t have to do things perfectly because He wants us to trust Him to fill in the gaps of our imperfections.
Now I work toward excellence instead of perfection and I trust God with the rest. Done is better than perfect.
I hope you remember these principles and find them helpful as you’re dreaming for the new year.
I’d love to hear about some of your goals and dreams for 2019. Send me an e-mail and I’ll pray for you and cheer you on throughout the year.