We’ve all said this, and I think we all agree with this. Most of the time.
When someone we care about faces a challenge and doesn’t make the perfect choice, we offer this statement as encouragement. They should be extended grace, allowed to learn from the experience, move forward, and make the changes they want to make.
Part of being human seems to be looking for exceptions to the rules. And sometimes we want those exceptions to be held accountable for their imperfection.
The most damaging tendency, I think, is to deny ourselves the grace we readily extend to others. “It is perfectly reasonable to expect myself to be perfect. I’m different. I know what needs to be done and if I don’t do it, it’s obviously a flaw within myself that must be punished.”
But what if we were just a little bit nicer to ourselves?
Fitness & Other Goals
I am active in several fitness groups, and frequently see posts along the lines of, “I am a failure. I missed this one part of my goal because life happened. I think I should just give up.”
When I see these posts, I understand the thought process. I’ve read books that discuss how simple it is to implement a workout program: you decide to get in better shape, you pick a program, and you do it. It’s simple.
But simple is not the same as easy. It is simple to get fit, but the reality of the process is not easy. Some days I don’t want to work out; some days emergencies happen and I legitimately don’t have time; some I days I waste time and claim I didn’t have time.
Likewise, financial, life, and relationship goals are attainable. There are books and experts that have the information we need to achieve those goals, and they’re laid out in a simple way.
What Should We Do?
I think we have to be willing to accept the facts we’re not perfect, and we will make mistakes. And we are still valuable.
The advice I give to people discouraged by their mistakes is pretty simple: “Give yourself some grace. Accept the fact you screwed up, but keep moving toward your goal. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. Some days or weeks, you will make lots of progress. Others, you may not make much; or you may have made a mistake that takes you further from your goal. But don’t give up.”
By not giving up, you are not confusing grace with enabling misbehavior in yourself. As long as you put in effort, you will make progress. Pay attention to which efforts give you the progress you want.
It’s Still Not Easy
Progress is hard. That’s why we don’t all have everything we want. We confuse simple with quick and easy.
It’s easy to look at that far off goal and put off the effort to make that progress we need. I wanted to procrastinate tonight. I had a whole line of justifications, and I would have done it. But my wife loved me enough to call me on it.
I want things to be better, and wants aren’t enough to make things better. I have to put in the effort. And sometimes that is a simple concept, but hard in reality.