Progress Not Perfection

It’s a mantra I learned in Al-Anon decades ago. A mantra that, truth be told, helped save my life.

It’s a mantra I turn to often, that I turned to again yesterday in my yoga class where, after decades of practice, I have to admit that there are some (okay, maybe many) poses that will never come easy to me. Where I look like I’ve perhaps just began practicing yoga, where I look like the poster of “before” in a before and after shot.

Ah well. It is what it is.

As a (recovering) perfectionist, remembering the concept of progress not perfection is always a good thing. I can touch my toes. Yay! I most likely will never touch my stomach to the floor in a wide-angle seated forward bend. Never.

Ah well. It is what it is.

Progress not perfection is my mantra for many, if not all, aspects of my life. I’ve learned, at times the hard way, to be happy for what I have, where I am, and what I’m doing. I’ve learned, to quote another Al-Anon mantra, that “I am enough. I have enough. And I do enough.” All new learnings for me over the years.

I’m connecting more and more with adults who grew up like I did, in a cult. I’m realizing more and more that the wacky thinking of never being enough, having enough, or doing enough is rampant in many of our minds. Our minds that were taught over and over and over again to sacrifice and suffer for God. To never leave, never fail, never fall.

What pressure that was, and no wonder there’s a gigantic critic in my mind watching my every step…and thought. No wonder she guards me harshly, not allowing any faltering or inadequacy. No wonder.

I’ve learned to name my critic “my editor” and to thank her for her input (lovingly when possible) and remind her that those views aren’t true for me anymore. Don’t work for me anymore.

I’ve learned to tell her—and myself—that it’s progress not perfection I’m aiming for and that I’ve made a hell of a lot of progress. I’ve learned to tell her—and myself—that I’m perfect just as I am, and the present is perfect just as it is. I’ve learned to remember this in my yoga, in my writing, in my relationships, in my business, in my life. I’m actively practicing believing this mantra as I take the next steps to fully birth my book.

Progress not perfection. A perfectly good mantra to live my perfectly imperfect—or my imperfectly perfect—life by. I’m glad I learned it decades ago. I offer it to you.

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About the Author | Lisa Kohn

Lisa Kohn is the author of a memoir, To the Moon and Back, due out September 18, 2018, that chronicles her childhood – growing up in the East Village of New York City in the 1970s and in the Unification Church (the Moonies). Lisa writes of her recovery from the emotional abuse and abandonment she faced, and her now life of hope as a thriving and happy mom, wife, and leadership consultant and coach. You can read more at her website,, where you can also download the first chapter of her book.

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