Taming Your Perfectionism

It doesn’t have to be perfect – really!

I’m not a perfectionist. I prefer to consider myself detail-oriented. There have been times in my life, however, that I’ve seen elements of this quality in myself that I realized weren’t entirely healthy. Many times I’ve veered into that dangerous territory where the quest for perfection stifles productivity. Perfectionism can be a hinderance in your career, fitness regime, and your dietary strategy.

Here’s how you can deal with the pitfalls of perfectionism and embrace a more reasonable attitude of achievement.

Your Career

If you’re trying to get ahead in your job, it doesn’t pay to wait for exactly the right time to ask for a raise. If you want to make a move to a new career you don’t need to wait to get all your qualifications fully in line with the job description or have your resume completely perfect. Sometimes you need to take a chance and just go for it, even if you don’t feel completely ready.

I’ve experienced moments of perfectionism when I’ve gone to develop websites and logos for my various businesses, and whenever I put writing on the page for all to see.

In the past I took ages to write blogs because I wanted to make sure I said everything perfectly and didn’t have a single spelling or grammatical error. I treated every word like it was going to be published in the memoir to be published after my death (“I can’t change anything after I write it down!”.)

Now I’ve realized that blogs are not forever, I can make changes whenever I like, and I can delete at any time if I’m not happy with it. Given the amount of crap available on the internet I realized that there was no point in striving for perfection.  

Your Fitness Routine

You want to find the best workout routine for you, but the main thing is that you’re doing something consistently that’s challenging enough for you. Many of my fitness colleagues spend hours debating the best types of workouts for fat loss and muscle mass gains and there are definitely good reasons for having those types of discussions for people who enjoy the debate.

If you’re looking for results though, all you really need is to be doing a smart routine on a regular basis. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to take time off for illness or injury, or if some workouts aren’t as intense as you were hoping they would be. Progress isn’t linear and if you push yourself too hard and expect everything to happen exactly according to plan you’ll likely be disappointed. Give it your best effort on the day and don’t despair if your efforts don’t live up to your expectations.

Your Diet

Even if the perfect diet existed (it doesn’t!) then you’d never follow it perfectly. You’re human. Once in a while you’ll get tired or a bit down and that slice of cheesecake in the fridge will be too tempting to ignore.

Striving to have a perfectly “clean” diet isn’t really a worthwhile goal either, and can lead to anxiety. Even if nutrition experts could agree on what foods are “clean”, which they don’t, it would be hard to follow the guidelines without facing frantic questions at every meal (Is bacon ok? Is that food Paleo? Is dairy clean? How about soy?).

RELAX.

Yes, you need to eat well consistently to meet your goals, but if you worry about every tiny detail you’ll end up throwing your hands in the air and saying “forget it!”. Be patient with yourself and allow a few mistakes and missteps along the way.

It’s OK to be less than Perfect

For those of us raised with a lot of parental and societal pressure, it can be tough to let go and do things without expecting perfection. Do the best you can at the time, but allow yourself to do things not quite perfectly sometimes. No one can keep up the perfection act for long.

Don’t even try.

You’ll be a happier, healthier person if you do.

Ivana Chapman 

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 5-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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