The idea of Perfect is robbing us of joy. Personally, I’m still trying to figure it out. When did we latch on to the idea that we are supposed to be perfect? What being or thing did we come across in life that forced us to believe, even for an instant, that perfect was an option?
I haven’t been willing to sit down with a psychologist on this (though it would probably have saved me many, many years), instead I’ve searched long and hard for a way to find a balance between perfect and completely giving up. It hasn’t been easy.
I’ve always been passionate about the process of fitness, especially teaching it to others. Because I wanted to be perfect, I carried all the pressure I could find on my shoulders to ensure that I led by example and was absolutely shredded all the time. My Freshman year at Florida State University, I didn’t drink alcohol (you know I love my Tequila and IPAs), ate tuna out of a can and chased it with spinach out of a bag (what, it was prewashed?)
Whenever I’d inevitably slip up, I’d feel irrationally guilty. After 3 months, I was never that extreme again but I wrestled with extremes for years. I was either sprinting 6 days a week, eating like a bird and chugging water or hitting the gym twice a week and hitting happy hours as often as possible. Either way, I wasn’t fully happy with where I was at mentally, which is what I’ve come to learn it’s all about.
For another decade, I continued to start and restart and start and restart. I couldn’t find a rhythm and I considered completely throwing in the towel and chasing a different path. Then a funny thing happened. I grew up, had a daughter, failed at a bunch of things, succeeded at a few, too, and I was graced with some perspective. I realized the idea I had of how I should be was a self-generated lie. I had somehow been comparing myself to someone else, or more appropriately, something else. That perfect person wasn’t me. I don’t think it’s any of us.
I’m at the point now where I tell every single person I start to work with to “Expect there to be delays. Expect to fall off every now and then. The only thing that matters is that you keep moving. 1,000 restarts are better than 1 stop.” That is actually part of the plan. If your fitness (or swap that out for anything else you’re passionate about) is keeping you from spending time with your family, traveling, eating some good food, drinking some good drinks, laughing with friends or creating memories, you will not have succeeded in doing whatever it was you set out to do.
At the end of the day, we work, train, strive for greatness, aim higher or try harder to prove to ourselves we’re good enough and that we deserve to be happy. You’ve already achieved that. We all have. The rest are just potential bonuses. So start and restart as often as you’d like. Plan on it. Understand that it is part of the process. Just don’t stop. No matter how big our accomplishments are in the end, the greatest joy will always be in the endless restarts it took to get us there and who we became along the way.