Humor me; just Google “Strive for Perfection”. You will see one image that says Strive for Perfection in Everything You Do. Then there are articles that say Strive for Progress, Not for Perfection, or Strive for Excellence, Not for Perfection. And then there are articles on Why Striving For Perfection is Holding You Back. So then? As one of the professors in Three Idiots says to Aamir Khan, “Arre bhai, kehna kya chaahte ho?’ the question one is justified in asking is, “What the hell should we be doing then?”

Contrary to all the scholarly advice that high-performance coaches might have to offer in this regard, my response comes from one of the pillars of mindfulness, which is simply called “Non-Striving”. So, the answer is - Do Not Strive, Just Do. Allow me to explain by means of an example.

Let us say, someone wants to lose weight. Every time he works out or every time he has a healthy diet, if he is going to measure his weight to see how much he has lost, he will probably end up being disappointed because weight loss will not show up perceptibly every day. If he looks at the weighing scale every day, he is even likely to end up de-motivating himself because, in his mind, the results are not in proportion to the efforts he is putting in. After a few days of trying, he may altogether lose interest. This is called striving. We expect results with every bit of effort we put in.

As against that, if he chooses to eat healthy and work out every day as a lifestyle routine, without really worrying specifically about weight loss, he may find himself losing more weight and that too, without troubling himself over it. He is merely building the discipline and one day he realizes that he has met his weight loss goal. He may lose just as much or as little but since he is acting in a non-striving manner, trying to build a discipline, rather than to achieve a result, he is likely to do better.

Of course, the caveat is that he has to continue to put in the hard work. And of course, there has to be a goal in mind. Being non-striving does not mean either slacking off or wandering aimlessly. Being non-striving simply means not attaching an outcome to every ounce of effort put in while sprinting towards the goal.