Progress or Procrastination
"If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB)
Unhealthy habits had crept their way into my life. At first it was only occasionally, but then it became easier to stay home rather than head to the gym. I turned a blind eye to how much sugar I was eating. And dinner from a drive-through became more convenient when I was in a rush.
After a few months in this downward spiral, I knew it was time to reintroduce healthy habits. But then the excuses started: I know I should work out, but this just isn't a good time for me ... I have two trips coming up and then there's that birthday dinner for my friend this weekend. And everyone knows that Mondays are the best day to start a good habit!
This pattern of thinking gives me permission to eat unhealthy foods and put off exercise. Somehow I justify that I will ultimately be more successful if all the conditions are perfect for me to improve my health. Perhaps it's my selfish nature that screams, "I want what I want when I want it." The truth is, if I know I should take steps toward healthier choices, then my response should simply be to ask myself, "What can I do today?" and then do it. I don't have to have a plan for a month or even a week ... only today.
As I've observed this pattern of procrastination within myself, I find when faced with a desire and necessity to make a change for the better, sometimes I wait until I can do it perfectly before I'm willing to begin. Scripture tells us though "If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" (Ecclesiastes 11:4).
I don't know about you, but I struggle with feeling that perfection is unreachable, so I push my goals to the back burner.
We wait to start consistent quiet times until we feel like getting up earlier. We wait to clean our house until there is a convenient weekend. We wait to join a small group until our schedules open up. We wait to begin a healthier lifestyle until the holidays are over.
Taking that first step is the hardest and yet most important step. Even a baby step toward a goal is better than staying in place. Aiming for progress rather than perfection can be quite freeing. So, I can't run a marathon. But I can lace up my sneakers and go for a walk. And while my home isn't in spotless, I can wipe down the counters and put away the piles of laundry around my living room. Yes, there are still dishes in the sink, but I have to start somewhere, right?
God is teaching me that I can make progress in the midst of less-than-perfect circumstances. While I still want to do things with excellence, a friend once told me I need to be willing to "take a B instead of an A+" on some things in life, and that helps bring perspective when excuses start to rise up. Plus, I'm learning to overcome my tendency for excuses by telling myself imperfect action is better than perfect procrastination.
There may never be a perfect time to get organized, eat less sugar, and workout more. However, we have to begin somewhere. The perfect place to start is where we are today.
Father, You know me so well, and I confess to You I've been avoiding obedience by waiting for things to be easier, better and more convenient. I recognize this as disobedience and ask You to forgive me. Give me the strength to focus today on this area of obedience. Let me know that You are providing all I need to take this step today and tomorrow, as I continue this journey with You. Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What area of procrastination are you wrestling with? Whatever it is, choose to take one step toward your goal. Share it with your spouse, friend or mom and ask them to help you live this truth: "Imperfect progress is better than perfect procrastination."
Ecclesiastes 7:8, "The end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride." (NIV)
Proverbs 31:27, "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (ESV)
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