Progress, Not Perfection

As an ADHD former gifted and talented kid (and daughter of a Type-A personality mother), I have a tendency to be very hard on myself in terms of things being Perfect. “If I can’t make it perfect, then what’s the point in doing it?” is how I’ve been conditioned to think. I unfortunately put that way of thinking into many facets of my life:

Art. Cleaning my house. Working from Home. among others

It took a long time, and a lot of healing my inner child, for me to realize that:

  1. Nothing (and no one) is perfect
  2. Nothing will change if you don’t even start
  3. Even a little bit of progress is more than where you were before

That second one is what I started taking to heart and is the root of my new motto: Progress, Not Perfection.

This is something I’ve truly taken to heart.

I actually first implemented a version of this into my art 3 years ago. I realized I was tired of being jealous that I wasn’t at the level that other artists were with their illustrations when I could instead be working to change that, so I did. That first year, I made a point to draw a little bit every week, some weeks it was every night that week. The progress I made in just that one year encouraged me to keep at it. Even now, looking at the progress of 3 years of (admittedly sporadic) drawing has immensely improved my art from where it was. Before this, I was only a realism artist. Now, I can confidently call myself an Illustrator, and I am ridiculously proud of this fact. That doesn’t stop me from continuing my efforts to get better because I know I can get there as I long as I put time and effort to progressing. That means I draw for myself, do challenges, practice different techniques, look to different artists for inspiration, take classes on platforms such as SkillShare and 21 Draw, etc. Any kind of progress is better than where I was before.

I’ve only recently accepted that my art skill is not the only place that I needed to take that advice. In addition to ADHD, I also have severe anxiety and depression. I’d enter the spiral of getting anxious about having a dirty house, start cleaning my house, having it get dirty again before I could even fully finish, realize everyone helped get it dirty but only I would feel the need to clean it, get depressed to the point that I was frozen into doing nothing, the house would continue to get worse, and THEN…I’d get anxious about having a dirty house and start cleaning it again.

And the cycle would continue. For YEARS!

It actually didn’t hit me until not long after I quit my job, and I was once again a stay at home mom: Any kind of progress is better than where it was before.

That changed my whole perspective when it came to cleaning my house. First, I deep cleaned one room at a time until it got to what I’ve dubbed “maintained functional level”. That means I’ve got it to the point that as I cleaned other rooms, I can easily go back and take 15-30 minutes to tidy up and clean most if not all of the other rooms as needed. While the bedrooms are still absolutely dreadful, all common areas of the house can pretty much be done alongside a load of dishes and some laundry within an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the kids and animals.

This mindset also helps for those days where I just don’t feel like cleaning much or at all. Even the smallest of things like picking up the trash, or carrying dirty dishes over to the sink, or folding a couple of blankets, etc is still progress from where I was before. This has definitely helped break me out of that endless anxiety and depression cycle that cleaning my house triggered.

While I know I will never be the type of mom to have my house looking instagram perfect, I also now know that that’s something I shouldn’t strive for anyway. A perfectly clean house isn’t functional and is way to stressful to maintain. So, I will continue to keep to this for as long as it serves me and my family:

Progress; not perfection


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