Progress not perfection.
In what universe would a B- be better than an A+? Ask any teacher, and the answer will probably be “Never in my class!”
But there are situations when a consistent B- is better than a single A+. If you think that’s not possible, consider a few things for a moment.
The old adage that perfectionism is the enemy of good came into existence for a reason. Let’s look at it this way: is it possible to be perfect in this life? For any of us?
Indeed it is not, and yet so many of us try. We work and work, and yet we still fall short, make mistakes, and slip up on occasion. And that’s totally fine! No one truly expects you to be perfect except possibly you.
The irony is that we often try so hard to be perfect or get it “right” when in reality others aren’t attracted to people who seem perfect. We love people who are imperfect and vulnerable because they are real and remind us of our common humanity.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to let go of your all-or-nothing approach to life and changing your habits.
Progress Not Perfection with Your Diet
You’ll never achieve perfection when it comes to your diet.
There, I said it.
You’ll never be able to achieve perfect eating habits. Precisely because the elements that make up a “perfect” diet are going to vary from expert to expert.
Ultimately, you are in charge of yourself and what goes into your mouth. So it has to be you who decides which plan to follow (if any) or what foods you consider healthy. But you know what? It’s completely okay if you don’t follow it 100%.
We are all going to have our bad days. What constitutes a slip-up is different for everyone.
Many people place a strong emphasis on their diet and actually focus more on where they “fall off the wagon” than on eating nourishing, vibrant foods most of the time.
While you may have moments of guilt when it comes to a slip-up in your diet, beating yourself up about it doesn’t do anything to support healthier choices in the future.
Moreover, the worst thing you could do is quit. Throwing in the towel and saying “Well, my diet’s off; I cheated, so it’s over,” is the perfectionist, all-or-nothing impossible ideal.
You know what’s better? Progress, not perfection: that little B-!
Tell yourself, “Okay, I messed up, but it’s okay because I understand what triggered me to make a choice for short-term gratification. I’m the kind of person who learns from their mistakes and I’m ready to make my next food choice based on my long-term vision for myself. .” Don’t give up—and don’t beat yourself up.
A lifestyle of eating healthy 4 to 6 days per week is better than a day of eating healthy followed by a big plateau of poor choices.
Burnout and perfectionism are joined at the hip.
If you’re aiming for 100% success every time in everything you do, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
The reality is that there is very little in life that you need to give 100% to all the time.
Life is about flourishing, not burning out.
Plus, life operates in cycles that align with nature. If we don’t recognize that our willpower and focus also ebb and flow in a cyclical nature we will likely work against our biology by pushing it too far without rest, recovery or learning.
After all, once you’ve reached burnout, it’s much harder to go back to homeostasis. How do you know if you’re approaching burnout?
Signs of Burnout
- Chronic fatigue—feeling tired and lacking energy
- Feeling irritable
- Depression or anxiety
- Feeling detached or resentful
- Trouble concentrating or forgetfulness
- Physical pains and symptoms or increased illnesses
- Anger and frustration
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Lack of enjoyment
One surefire way to prevent these symptoms is to practice being okay with not doing things perfectly. Cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself a B-!
How to train yourself to focus on progress not perfection.
Don’t get me wrong—there are times when it’s good to shoot for an A+. Especially when you have built your way up to an A+ performance or understanding because you’ve learned from your mistakes.
But when it comes to something new or even something old that is being reintroduced into your daily behaviors;expect and accept moments of failure as part of your progress and growth.
Retrain yourself to focus on your progress, not perfection.
Aim for an average 80% success rate.
Take some of the pressure off yourself. It’s freeing!
Aim for a B- in about 80% of the things you do in life.
The goal is to have more progress in life on what is actually important.
Consider what motivates you. I think you’ll notice that it’s actually making progress on something meaningful to you.
The goal is not to achieve perfection in everything, but to find the things that are most important to you and prime your energy to make consistent progress on them.
A great way to free your energy for what is most meaningful is to aim for an 80% success rate in the areas of life that support you in your Zone of Genius (read The Big Leap if you want to know more).
Start to shift your mindset toward changing yourself for the long-term, rather than seeking the perfect result in a single moment.
Learn from your failures and use them to continue growing and establishing a foundation for more progress.
Not only will you be more productive and avoid burnout, you’ll be happier and healthier.
Give yourself the opportunity to succeed in a few meaningful things and don’t’ sweat the others.
Allow yourself a B- average and you’ll free yourself to enjoy the life you have.
What area of your life could benefit the most from this shift in mindset?
Comment below and let me know!