I baked these loaves of sourdough bread this weekend. They look nice and tasted good, but the process of making them was very imperfect. And by that I mean that no serious, respectable baker would approve of the way I made these loaves. Why? Because I –
- Used sourdough starter that hadn’t been refreshed for 2 weeks
- Didn’t follow a recipe
- Measured the ingredients in a somewhat haphazard way
- Kneaded the dough for a random amount of time and left it to rise, then stuck it in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake it
So, these loaves aren’t going to win any accolades from professional bakers.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because my family and I enjoyed them, and that’s the only thing that counts.
And while we’re talking about accolades, here are a few more things that aren’t going to win any prizes this year –
- My attempts to create and stick to a strength training routine
- My attempts at learning to stretch and become more flexible
- My slow and faltering attempt to get this blog off the ground
But, again, it doesn’t matter. These efforts don’t have to be perfect. My strength training is kind of a hot mess, but I’m getting stronger. My stretching workouts are an even hotter mess, but I’m slowly (very slowly) becoming more flexible. And the blog is still a work in progress, but I’m gradually getting some things done.
So what does that have to do with the kinds of things we talk usually about here – living a healthier life, pursuing a goal or dream, or enjoying a happier family life or marriage?
Just this – your efforts don’t have to be perfect either.
You don’t have to wait until you know all the answers. You don’t have to wait until you have more time. You don’t have to figure out the perfect plan. You don’t have to know all the answers.
You just have to start, take one step at a time, do it imperfectly, and keep doing it.
It doesn’t matter what change you want to make – eat healthier, exercise regularly, get more sleep, lose weight, improve your sex life, strengthen your marriage, or anything else – you just have to start with one tentative, awkward, imperfect step.
And then another. And another.
Because imperfect efforts add up over time and can lead to exactly the results you want to achieve.
In addition, clarity comes through action. We don’t figure out how to do things by endlessly thinking about them, we figure them out by doing something – taking action. For example, I committed in the fall to getting stronger by doing strength workouts at least twice a week, but I had no idea how to begin.
So I just started, one step at a time – very imperfectly. And now, about 4 months into it, I’m a bit stronger, but the process is still awkward and I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. However, I’m going to keep going because I know that my imperfect efforts will eventually lead to good results.
I know that because I’ve figured out that time is the secret ingredient. Time is the reason my bread turned out great, even though the process of making it was imperfect. Because with bread, time covers a lot of problems. Yeast or starter too old? Give the dough more time. Didn’t knead it properly? Give it more time. Didn’t follow the recipe exactly? Just give it some time.
(Yes, it would be possible to mess up the dough so badly that it would never turn into a nice loaf of bread, but you get my point!)
And time is the reason that your persistent efforts, no matter how imperfect, will allow you to exercise regularly, clean up your diet, lose weight, or reach any other important goal you’ve set for yourself.
If you’re struggling to get on track with something you wanted to accomplish this year, what’s getting in your way? Perhaps it’s a fear of doing it imperfectly or of not knowing what you’re doing.
If you think that might be the case, just start. Do it messy. Do it imperfectly. Make mistakes. Embarrass yourself.
Because your imperfect efforts + time = positive results in your health, happiness, or marriage.
What healthy changes are you working on, or plan to start working on, this year? Do you ever struggle to do things imperfectly? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.