Why You Need To Get Rid Of Perfection

IMG_9565Chasing perfection can be a dangerous race. I know, because I’ve been there. The problem with chasing perfection, is that you will never find it. This week, I explore what perfectionism is, why it’s a good idea to let go of it, and how to move forward.
Perfectionism happens as a result of striving for flawlessness, setting excessively high standards, and being overly critical of yourself and how others view you. If you’re a perfectionist, chances are, you’re aware of it. Heck, you’re probably proud of it! Even if you know that your perfectionism tendencies are holding you back, you consider it the price you have to pay to reach success. How are you going to pick out an outfit if your closet isn’t color coded? How could you possibly have friends over if the house doesn’t look immaculate? How are you going to get that promotion if you’re not a workaholic? How are you ever going to reach your goals if you don’t stick to a well laid out plan 100%? I promise you, it can be done. You don’t always have to “Go big or go home” to achieve success. Perfectionists tend to think in extremes; you believe that you’ve achieved success or failure and there’s no inbetween. But life isn’t an all or nothing game. This can become especially dangerous in the health and fitness world because women (and men) tend to be very competitive with each other. When a perfectionist takes their nutrition and training to extremes it can lead to a lot of unhealthy behaviors. This is why it’s so important to let go of fear and judgement and live authentically from day to day.
There are so many reasons to let go of perfectionism, and grab hold of your life. When you spend so much time trying to make everything “perfect” you actually end up procrastinating your progress. You might think to yourself “I can’t move forward with this, I’m not motivated yet.” When in reality, if you just start moving in the direction of your goals, you’ll become motivated by taking action. You’re holding yourself back when you wait for the perfect moment. Why do perfectionists procrastinate? Because they let fear control them. Fear of failure, fear of mediocrity, fear of judgement, fear of letting themselves down. When a perfectionist feels as though they’ve let themselves down, they become overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Guilt for not giving 110% to their goal. Shame for comparing their actions to their own standards. These overwhelming emotions can cause a perfectionist to take extreme measures to undo the damage they believe they’ve caused. When in reality, they are probably the only one who is even slightly aware of their streamlined rituals and routines. I know you’re probably thinking “Ok, so how does this relate to health and fitness at all?” Well if you’re a perfectionist, you might have your sights set on an unrealistic goal, and an unrealistic plan. A perfectionist will convince herself that she needs to run X amount of minutes and eat X amount of calories to achieve the flawless physique she’s always wanted. This according to a study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, Journal of Eating Disorders. Adaptive perfectionism refers to high standards driving a person towards achieving a goal body image. Maladaptive perfectionism is concerned with mistakes and other people’s opinions. The combination of these two makes the perfectionist at high risk for developing an eating disorder or even an exercise addiction.
So how does a perfectionist maintain excellence, success and happiness? By shifting her perspective and following a few simple guidelines. If you’re a perfectionist, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the things that you do well, notice the things others compliment you on, and realize that you are always growing and changing. Work on yourself daily. Continue to do the things that make you happy and drive you forward in a positive way. That could mean reading about personal development/productivity, making time for your passions, or spending quality time with friends and family. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Maybe you decided to go a day without putting on makeup. Congratulate yourself on being comfortable in your own skin. Maybe you decided to cut your cardio session short so you could spend extra time taking a bubble bath. Celebrate the fact that you’re not forcing yourself to play a numbers game. Take small digestible bites. Don’t try to overhaul your whole life. Instead, make small changes here and there that you feel comfortable with. Over time, those changes will compound and lead to greater success without the suffering.
Being a perfectionist can motivate you to reach your goals and feel pleasure from your accomplishments. But being a perfectionist who doesn’t reach their goals can also lead you to a big depression. Learn to celebrate your success and be happy in the moment. “Live your life, because what’s scarier than a dream being gone, is a dream that was achieved but never celebrated.” -Adrianne Haslet-Davis

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