Perfection is the Enemy of the Good
Jared Carter, CSCS

Perfection is your enemy. If you’re trying to improve some aspect of yourself right now, that probably sounds ridiculous. Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been taught to strive for perfection. We’re supposed to eat all of our vegetables, show up to work on time and return library books before their due dates.

How on earth could striving for perfect be a bad thing?

Because it destroys the idea of “good enough.” We need to recognize that being good enough, isn’t bad and really should be what we strive for.

By nature, I’m a perfectionist. I hate the idea of something being “good enough.” That makes me automatically feel like I’m settling for something less than ideal. I’ve lived this way forever. I want everything I do to be perfect. I want to always know the right answer to every question, send out the perfect email, develop the best exercise program, send my kids to the best schools, etc.

If that were possible, it’d be an awful lot of work. Any normal person would look at that list and think, “Yeah, that’d be nice, but it’s probably not going to work out that way.”

We can all see that for someone else, yet we can’t seem to say the same thing about ourselves. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and then give up on our efforts when they fall short of perfect. That’s crazy.

I’d like all of my clients to simply aim for “good enough.” By simply looking to improve, you move forward and make progress, while allowing for some wiggle room.

I’ve advised people for years to simply do better. Better can mean so many different things, and that’s beautiful. Whenever I’m talking to someone about nutrition, it can mean having Ice Cream 6 nights out of the week, instead of all 7. It can also meaning trying to run 5 miles instead of 3. The great thing is that “better” isn’t defined the same way perfect is.

Better gives us something to strive for, while still recognizing progress. Perfect is just pass or fail. You either achieved this great thing or you didn’t.

The perfect example is a person going on a new diet (which I NEVER recommend!). You know someone (possibly you) who has gone on a very strict diet and stuck with it for a few weeks. They go on and on about how great they feel, how much weight they’ve lost, how they don’t miss cookies or pizza at all (liars…), etc. To the outside world, everything looks great. They’re making progress and they are happy with their results.

Then something happens. They have a stressful day at work, get into a fight with their spouse, get invited to a birthday celebration or any other situation and they “break” their diet. They give in and finally have that brownie they’ve been craving. After that brownie, you never hear anything else about their diet. They go right back to eating the same way they did before. They think, “Well, I couldn’t stick with it. So, why keep trying?”

That’s insane, but it happens all the time! This person found something that was working for them, helping them feel better about themselves, and losing weight. Yet, because they couldn’t follow it “perfectly,” they throw it out and consider themselves a failure.

If your friend would simply recognize the progress that they had made, recognize that they took a misstep, and then regroup and continue on with their plan, they’d continue reaping all of the benefits. But that’s not allowed if you’re striving for perfection.

I’ve coached clients for years to just aim for better. I’ve had so many clients get phenomenal results, that NEVER did anything perfectly. It’s not necessary, so why strive for it. All it does is set you up for failure.

Perfection has no place in your fitness pursuit. It just doesn’t. The world we live in isn’t perfect. Things won’t always work out the way we want them to. So, stop fighting it. Embrace the challenges that you’ll face every day and just do the best that you can.

“Good enough” really is just that. It’s good enough to get results. It’s good enough for me and I hope that it’s good enough for you, too.

© 2016, Move Forward Fitness

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