Perfectionism may sound like something that can help you reach your goals, but it can actually keep you from achieving the goals you set while enjoying the process. A perfectionist tends to have unrealistic standards for themselves or others and sees anything less than perfect as a failure. For many people that suffer from perfectionism, that mindset infiltrates every aspect of their lives from their work to their health and fitness. Setting goals and making a plan is essential to your health and fitness, but perfectionism may be sabotaging your goals.
- Even if your desire to perfectly achieve your goal doesn’t leave you physically burned out (and it might), it can leave you emotionally and mentally burned out before you achieve the goal. Perfectionism tends to cause excessive worry and anxiety about achieving the goals you’ve set. You might find yourself obsessing over minute details of your plan and comparing it to other training plans your friends are using that promise better or faster results. The anxiety and worry can creep in even when you’re at rest or at work, making you feel as though you aren’t doing enough every minute of the day. Some worry and anxiety is natural and means that achieving your goal matters to you. Too much, though, can cause you mental burnout that derails your plan and forces you to give up.
- Giving up. Perfectionists tend to approach goals with an all-or-nothing attitude. If a perfectionist fears that he or she can’t have the perfect workout, they may opt not to do it at all. What’s the point of trying if you can’t do it perfectly? If you see signs of this in yourself, make an effort to change the way you think. Any workout at all is better than no workout. Instead of skipping your workout or giving up because you perceive a less-than-perfect workout as a setback, make a goal to get in any workout you can. Even if a fifteen minute run on the treadmill is far less than the sixty minute sprint you had planned, it’s a better spent fifteen minutes than throwing in the towel. Every minute gets you closer to your goal.
What can you do to overcome perfectionism?
Make your goals about personal achievement instead of competition. Whether you want to run a specific time in your next race, or lift a certain number of reps at a particular weight, setting goals that are personal to you alleviates pressure caused by competing with others. You may still win your race or out lift your partner, but focusing on your personal development will allow you to eliminate unproductive anxiety about how you’ll measure up against others.
Allowing yourself to celebrate small achievements on the path to accomplishing your goal can also help you see the bigger picture and enjoy the process. Fitness goals are achieved one day at a time. If you’re not enjoying the process, you’ll find yourself questioning why you even started.
If you think you might suffer from perfectionism, embrace it as a sign that you’re in tune with trying your best. Then you can start working on healthier strategies designed to help you enjoy the process and still reach your goal.