Thursday afternoon I decided to forgo a well-deserved naptime snooze for a round of butt-kicking with my buddy Jillian. She tells me that I can get ripped in a quick 30 minute session. Or 30 days. I’m not sure. And while no one has categorized my body as “ripped”, my pre-baby jeans fit, so I’m happy with 30 whatevers that she asks.
Partway through the 2nd circuit I could tell I was loafing. The next thing I know, I’m getting one squat thrust to every 3 that the “beginner” model put forth. At one point I thought to myself, “why do I even bother?”
I believe that thought crept in because somewhere down the line someone once told me that “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” It was probably a teacher. Or a motivational speaker. Maybe Zig Zigler put it on a poster.
But you know what, Zig? I was burning more calories, I was building more muscle, I was energizing my spirit far more with my 1-to-3 squat thrusts than I was sitting on the couch. So it was worth doing.
Jillian likes to yell at me as a form of motivation or encouragement (or something?) to “give it everything you have.” But what about the days I just don’t have much? And this goes far beyond my energy level required to kick my high knees. What about when my patience level sits at a 4 all day? Or when my motivation wanes to finish the 4 (yes, count them, 4) baskets of laundry?
I don’t think I need to give it my all of alls. I just need to give my best that I have at that moment. Any steps toward progress, however imperfect, make the efforts worth it. So many times we play the blame game, berating ourselves that we can’t speak with perfectly calm voices after the two-year-old bites the 3-year-old. We forget – again!- to focus on learning an alphabet letter each week. And the big things – loving our husbands or our neighbors better, seeking peace and justice in our lives and our communities… does this meager step even matter?
Sometimes the lack of perfection serves as the perfect excuse to quit altogether. But don’t buy the lie. I’m not a big Satan-blamer, but the Father of Lies uses a common piece of ammunition: it doesn’t matter*. Little things mean nothing. Go hard or go home. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
This is where I believe we could borrow valuable wisdom from my yoga teacher, who regularly reminds us to be present in our practice and attend to what is happening right now. Perhaps you can’t go as far as you did yesterday – but go as far as you can today.
Wherever we get the idea that a less-than-perfect outcome is unacceptable seeks only what we can produce, not the process of growth. Some days we might grow more than others. And on the days we can really rock it (regularly a Monday for me) – then really rock it. Kick it in the junk.
When the days start badly, move slowly and end much later than you wished, still do what you can. Accept the “imperfect progress” (as Lysa TerKeurst puts it) as one of the best means of growth – steady, sustainable change for the long haul.
*Another big one is “you’re all alone.” Don’t buy that one, either.