If I had a dollar for every get-healthy-lose-weight-get-in-better-shape resolution that was sabotaged by all-or-nothing, perfectionistic thinking, I’d be writing this blog from my villa in the south of France. Healthy lifestyle change is quickly sunk by the mindset that if you don’t get it perfect one hundred percent of the time you’ve failed.
It may sound silly when I write it this way, but have you ever:
- Overeaten at the end of the day and then decided that “now that you’ve blown it” you might as well eat some more?
- Lost motivation because you weren’t making it to the gym as often as you’d planned so quit going all-together?
- Decided that since you overate last night and there’s a party on the weekend you might as well wait until Monday to restart your weight loss plan?
These, my friend, are examples of perfectionism. They reflect the philosophy that you have to get it perfect in order to take action at all. Perfectionism also includes the belief that if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t any good.
The problem is, none of us is perfect, we’ll never hit one hundred percent all the time, and if that is our definition of success, we’ll always fall short. For most of us, that’s pretty discouraging—not a great motivator when you’re looking for making changes that you can stick with over the long haul.
My advice: instead of aiming for perfect, aim for doing your best. Know that even the worst choice can be followed by a good one. If you are someone who tends to think of “restarting” and “failing” or “blowing it,” start retraining yourself to think of the goals you are pursuing as long term. You don’t need every step to be brilliant, you just need to keep taking steps in the right direction.
Take good care,