Not Perfect, Just Better

Do you have goals you would like to pursue, but you don’t because they just seem too difficult? Say, learn another language? Learn money-making skillz? Lose those extra LBs?

When you try to achieve goals but aren’t successful as quickly as you would like, do you get frustrated and give up?

I know I have.

Not Perfect Just BetterLet me tell you about one of my failures.

I had thought for years that I should learn to use Photoshop so I could give my photos a little extra punch.

I even purchased Photoshop. Actually, not full Photoshop, but Photoshop Elements, a powerful but simpler (and less expensive) photo editing program.

But when I opened the program, it looked dauntingly complicated. There were lots of strange terms such as “layers” and the screen had so many icons, menus and selections that it looked like the cockpit of a jet fighter.

I froze. Because I didn’t think I could master Elements, I didn’t try. The program sat on my computer, unused.

Recently, I decided to try again to learn Elements. This time, thought, I tried a different approach. I changed my way of thinking.

And it worked!

This time, instead of focusing on my ultimate goal of mastering Elements, I decided to just learn one skill. I just concentrated on getting better than I was (which wasn’t difficult).

Guided by a YouTube video, I learned how to remove an object from a photo. Using something called the Clone Stamp Tool, I removed a distracting telephone pole from a picture. These are the before and after photos.

Old car and pole

Old car without pole

Even though it was a pretty clumsy job, when I learned that skill, I was jazzed. At that point, I knew about 1% of what there was to know about Elements, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I was inspired to learn another skill. So I did.

And then another.

Persistently getting better, skill by skill, was empowering.

Instead of being frustrated because I was miles from “perfecting” my use of Elements, I was energized by my progress.

I kept thinking: “You don’t have to be perfect, just better. Just keep at it. Make persistent, incremental improvements.”

Using this approach, I have now learned quite a few Photoshop Elements skillz and I’m still inspired to learn more.

In addition to learning Elements, I stumbled onto a strategy that I can use to achieve other goals.

Whether we think we can or we think we can’t, we are probably right. That is, our expectations are powerful predictors of whether we will succeed.

When we focus on gigantic goals that we don’t really believe we can achieve, we probably won’t.

Instead, we have to focus on goals we think are achievable. Making some progress, getting a little better, is achievable. So that is what I focused on.

It’s really this simple: To achieve your goals, forget about being perfect. Just be better today than you were yesterday. Then, do the same thing tomorrow. And don’t give up.

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