Perfectionism can be sneaky. You might think that your motivation to radically achieve your goals at all costs is a positive; it might motivate you, push you, keep you on track. But if you struggle to hit your goals and stay consistent, your resistance to accept anything less than perfect may be sabotaging you just when you’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
What is perfectionism and why is it a bad thing?
“Perfect” sounds like a positive word, but it’s really a negative in disguise. Psychology Today defines “perfectionism” as “an endless report card” and “an enduring track to unhappiness.” Perfectionists tend to strive for avoiding failure, rather than achieving goals and making progress. Instead of accepting that the perfect lifestyle, perfect body, or perfect performance doesn’t actually exist, perfectionists tend to procrastinate or be inconsistent in their efforts. Perfectionism is that little voice in our heads that tells us that if you can’t do something perfectly, you shouldn’t even try. That voice speaks loudly when we’re embarking on a fitness goal or a healthy eating plan that we worry we can’t perfectly complete.
How to beat perfectionism one day at a time?
The road to overcoming the perfectionism you struggle with is a marathon, rather than a sprint.
- Recognize the voice of your inner perfectionist. When you hear that voice in your head tell you that if you don’t lose the extra weight by Sunday, it will be failure, that’s perfectionism. The sneaky voice isn’t always so obvious, though. It can hit you when you’re in the middle of the workday and it tells you that you should just skip tonight’s workout and order pizza because you’ve already skipped a workout this week. When perfectionism tries to convince you to procrastinate or give up completely because you already have broken your perfect streak, call it what it is. Acknowledge that it’s the voice of an unhelpful inner friend, and silence it by setting reasonable, small, and accomplishable goals one day at a time.
- Be practical. When you sit down to make out your meal plan or workout schedule for the week, consider what you can actually accomplish and make that your short-term goal. It’s not only unhealthy to plan on losing a tremendous amount of weight quickly, it’s also unrealistic and sets you up for failure. Instead, be realistic. Schedule the workouts and plan the meals that you can stick to with moderate effort. Allow room for flexibility and be open to a workout at a different time or a different type of workout altogether.
- Keep trying. Every day is a new opportunity to try again. Whether you slipped a little yesterday, all of last week, or even longer, every meal and every workout is an opportunity to start again. Instead of throwing in the towel because you derailed from your plan, recognize that fitness and a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong path, and it’s never too soon to start again. You don’t have to wait for a new year for a fresh start.
Do you suffer from perfectionism in your healthy lifestyle? Share your experiences and tips to overcome it with your fellow FitClub members!