So this is just a quick post to share something I’ve been doing that might help you if you have any kind of struggle with perfectionism. Or if you ever get the feeling that if you can’t do something perfectly it’s not worth doing at all.
I’m an ‘all or nothing’ person. If you struggle with this stuff, chances are you are too. And while that expression is often used as something positive, I don’t really think it is.
I really, really struggle to keep doing something once I have a blemish on my perfect record.
I’m either going to the gym every single day or not at all. I’m either totally obsessed with eating healthy food or I’m not at all. I swing from all to nothing to all to nothing. I can’t deal with obstacles. I can’t deal with real life.
Getting better at imperfection
I think that being able to keep going in circumstances that aren’t ideal is SO underrated.
I mean, it’s great that you can do something perfectly in perfect conditions, a lot of people can’t. But can you keep going when an obstacle comes up? When something unexpected happens?
Can you keep going in circumstances that aren’t ideal?
Once I realised I couldn’t, I started thinking about how I could get a little better at persevering. And I found my answer.
Whenever I feel like I’m getting a little obsessed with having a perfect record (so usually after a week or so of doing something everyday) I purposely screw up. I purposely deviate from the plan.
Why I screw up on purpose
I miss a gym session. I eat some junk food. I don’t write a blog post when I’m meant to. I do something, anything, that would normally throw me off.
And before you say anything, I know this sounds like a huge cop out.
It could easily just be something I comfort myself with after I screw up. But this isn’t something I’ve been doing in hindsight. This doesn’t really work if you just use this as an excuse when you screw up (trust me I’ve tried), because you’re not really learning anything.
When to do it
You have to plan in advance to skip something, for the right reasons.
Do it when you feel yourself getting a little too attached to the process. When the fact that you can’t stick to your plan for one day is a bigger deal than it should be. Screw up on purpose. Throw a spanner in the works.
It will help you realise that you can keep going when things don’t go according to plan. You can complete a twelve week workout challenge even if you had to skip one day in week four. You can be healthy even if you ate a few too many cupcakes on your friend’s birthday.
Why it works
It’s better to do things imperfectly than not do them at all. It doesn’t ‘ruin’ my week. It doesn’t make me ‘bad’. It doesn’t make me lazy.
It’s training me for the variables, for real life. It’s like if you’re a runner preparing for a big race you don’t only train in perfect conditions. You train in all conditions – rain, hail and shine. It’s building strength and resilience. It’s creating the ability to persevere and persist no matter what.
And it’s helped me realised something else too: it’s better to start things imperfectly than not start them at all.
We do not need to wait for perfect conditions because we can succeed without them. We do not need to wait for a new job, more money, losing weight, more time (which will never happen by the way). We can start now, even if things aren’t perfect.
Perfect conditions make initial success easier but long-term success harder.
If you have no resilience, if you have no ability to keep going when something unexpected happens you cannot be successful over the long-term – unexpected things happen over the long-term. You need to train yourself to operate in all conditions, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear if you can relate to this!
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has these problems! Do you get obsessed with having a perfect, unblemished record? Do you find it hard to keep going once you’ve slipped up?
Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and very much appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear from you.