You Don’t Have To Be Perfect…Just Start Somewhere
“Perfection is the enemy of progress” – Winston Churchill
According to Merriam-Webster, perfection is
- freedom from fault or defect
- the quality or state of being saintly
- an exemplification of supreme excellence
- an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence
Can you claim that you can live up to any of these definitions? I know I can’t.
For many years, I was an “all or nothing” type when it came to my healthy lifestyle. If I couldn’t adhere to a program or plan 100%, I would go completely off the rails. I no longer do that. I’m changing the habits that don’t serve my good health into habits that do. One of the habits I’m building is to allow myself some grace when I don’t always make the right choices.
As a health coach, I know I want to walk my talk in order to show my clients what’s possible. But I also know that they get to see my humanity and my shortcomings because I’m no different from them. The difference is that now I can get myself back on track and even when I make choices that are not in my best interest, I don’t let it get completely out of control like it might have years ago.
No matter what, I stand firm in my conviction to adhere to a pescatarian, dairy and processed sugar free diet and try to remain as gluten-free as possible. On those points, I don’t waver. Where I fall short, is on my exercise and even though I don’t eat meat, dairy or processed sugar ever, I still make less than stellar choices at times. But I no longer let my choices derail my total efforts.
According to Merriam-Webster, habit is
- a usual way of behaving
- something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way
- a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior
- an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary
- a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance
One of my favorite books is Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. In the book, Hill describes what he calls the hypnotic rhythm, which is a law of subconscious human nature that tends to slowly solidify our habits and make them a permanent part of our lives, often without us even noticing how powerful and addictive those habits may have become. When we fall into hypnotic rhythm, we behave in the same way over and over again without any thought to what we’re doing. It takes work to pull ourselves out of deeply ingrained patterns of behavior.
You Can Change
Changing habits that are deeply entrenched is not a linear process. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing and others…not so much. Our brains are wired to try to make any behavior into a habit to reduce the effort required to act. So if we repeat a behavior enough times, it can easily become a habit.
One of the things I have noticed about my own habits is that they travel in bundles of at least two. Many of my habitual behaviors will often to lead to other habitual behaviors. In order for me to break certain habits, I am better served to change the habit that triggers me to engage in the habit that doesn’t serve me.
I use the example of quitting smoking, which I did almost 37 years ago. When I drank coffee, I would always want a cigarette. I didn’t want to smoke after I brushed my teeth and ruin the minty freshness in my mouth. So in order to stop smoking, I brushed my teeth constantly and also stopped drinking coffee. I went cold turkey and never turned back. And I had minty fresh breath.
Depending on how old the habit is, changing it can be a challenge. The older the habit, the more deeply ingrained the neural pathway for that habit. You will have to practice the new behavior over and over again for a period of time to override that old neural pathway. Some say that time period is 21 days, some say 66 days and I say it takes what it takes. The measure of success is when you automatically engage in the new behavior without thinking, like you did with the old.
I Did And So Can You
My habits have changed over time. I won’t say I never fall back into old patterns. But when I do, it’s never as bad as it was before and I know how to pull myself out.
If this had been “before”, I might use my poor choices as an excuse to completely abandon my path, specifically my daily exercise, and come up with excuses…but no more. I’ll give myself a break and treat me more gently. I won’t beat myself up or use negative self talk about my slips. I’ll move on from it and work on strategies for the next moment when something in my life goes off the rails. Sometimes I’m going to stay on the straight and narrow and other times I may fall off the path. But one thing is certain, I’ll get back on and all will be well. I don’t need to be all or nothing. I can be a human who isn’t perfect.
What habits will you change?
Do You Want Help?
Would you like to have more energy, lose weight, sleep better, and balance your hormones? I am launching a 5 week Sugar Detox Program beginning February 3rd.
This program is open to anyone who:
- would like to get control of their sugar cravings
- feel better
- have an abundance of energy
- and an overall increase in well-being.
Aren’t you tired of feeling bloated and lethargic?
If you continue to follow the path you’re on, where will it lead you in six months? a year? Isn’t it time to take a different approach?
What you have done in the past hasn’t worked or at least has not stuck. I can help you change that. Click here for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your challenges and your goals for the coming year and see if we’re a good fit. You have nothing to lose except those nasty cravings.
I help women living with or at risk for developing heart disease or other chronic illness that we can manage through lifestyle and nutrition changes. Or maybe you’re on the verge of developing heart disease, or diabetes, or another lifestyle related condition. If so, let’s chat. For a free consultation with me, click here.
Karen, I love your discussion of perfection. Where did we pick that up, anyway? I am learning more and more that, what I regard as my imperfections, no one else has even noticed. Now I go with, “Don’t stress– just do your best.” Best wishes with your course–it will be powerful for the right people!
Thanks Kebba. I love your mantra. I think I might have to adopt that for myself.
We all need to stop chasing perfection and just get started. There’s no such thing as getting it perfect.
So true Rachel…it’s what can paralyze us.