Is the illusion of perfection robbing you of ‘good enough’?
Many high-achieving people are perfectionists. This trait is common among the world’s Type A personalities, who I see weekly in the nutrition clinic. I have so many people come to me and say, “I run a successful business, I am a good mother, wife, friend etc., so why can’t I nail the health aspect of my life?”
The reason? They are trying too hard to be perfect.
Don’t get me wrong, in some circumstances, a perfectionist trait can be good: After all, that drive can push people to do great things. But unfortunately, it has its downfalls, too. The idea of ‘perfection’ can result in people not even trying- perhaps you missed a day at the gym earlier in the week, so what is the point in going now? Better to start on Monday with a perfect week right? Or perhaps it leads to the ‘Oh, I have ruined my diet now, better finish off the bag of cookies’ mentality, which we all know is a recipe for disaster!
In fact, this is the exact point at which we need to remind ourselves that perfect is the enemy of the good. Instead of idolizing the pinnacle of perfection, be content with good. Let your diet be good enough.
Just Getting started.
Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity to start going to the gym or eat healthily (perhaps when things die down at work or when you finish exams), simply start now. Instead of finding the right gym or the right work out gear, simply go for a run or walk and get started!
The problem with perfection is that it is entirely subjective. Your idea of perfection may be completely different from someone else, meaning, it really doesn’t exist. If you rely on perfection to keep you motivated, it isn’t going to last long.
The biggest problem with today’s society is that we seek instant gratification. We embark on a new way of eating or exercising and immediately feel a buzz from the psychological change. However, lifestyle changes take time and this ‘buzz’ will fade and therefore so will the motivation. The results won’t necessarily come quickly and this can lead to giving up entirely. The concept of perfection can skew our expectations as we expect to experience instantaneous results.
So, try the following moves:
- Rather than expecting aha moments, prepare yourself for gradual improvement.
- Rather than trying to overhaul your lifestyle all at once, try marginal improvements over periods of time.
- Rather than waiting for a rush of exhilaration, expect modest satisfaction over time.
It’s good to condition ourselves for success. We can do this by preparing for it, visualising it, going after it, and desiring it. But the problem with diet and lifestyle, is that it is a lifetime commitment, meaning that the feelings of success are more likely to be gradual. It may feel good, but it won't necessarily feel perfect. Success arrives as a sense of satisfaction, not a sudden thrill.