3 Ways Perfection is Keeping us from our Goals & What we can to do About it

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T. 

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it 8 million times.  “Practice makes perfect”.

Joes kick

Here’s the rub.

To get better at anything, even if you have some natural ability, yes, you have to practice.

Perfection, though, is an unattainable illusion.


In fact, practice makes us better, but perfect does not exist.  There are (at least) three ways perfection is keeping us from our goals; be they fat-loss or just about anything else.



Have you ever said…

Or, rather, how many times have you said…

  • “This is just not a good time, right now.
  • I’m super busy at work.
  • My husband/wife is gone.
  • I’m going to have to take care of the kids.
  • We’re having company next week.
  • I have that big project due at work.
  • Our vacation is already planned.
  • The holidays are approaching.
  • I’m too tired.
  • I’m too busy.
  • I don’t have enough money.
  • I don’t have the energy to even get started.”


Those things, and many more, may be very true.  We are experts at creating excuses!

Trust me, if I don’t want to do something, I can give you 50 reasons – right off the top of my head – for why I can’t.



They’re all perfectly justified and they allow me to not do anything, but also negate any personal responsibility I might have.

It’s not my fault….

….I have these VERY good reasons right here for why I just can’t.


There is no such thing as a “perfect time”.  Your life is never going to be calm.  Things aren’t going to “settle down”.  Your responsibilities are not going to go away.  I’ve been waiting for years, but that personal chef has not yet appeared in my kitchen, ready to whip up delectable healthy meals for me.  Damn it.

You are here


Waiting for the perfect time – because it doesn’t exist – leads to inaction.

We get so discouraged we just decide not to bother.


What can we do about it? 


This is your life.  This moment right here.  This day is your opportunity to take one step down the path you want to travel.


Not tomorrow.  Not next Monday.  Not New Year’s Day.  (Although there are plenty of psychological reasons we do this).


Here’s how I do it.  I have to be completely, and brutally, honest with myself.  I don’t believe every thought that comes into my head.  I say, both to myself, and others:

“I have a whole bunch of excuses for not doing ‘this’ today, but they are just that.


So I have a choice in this moment.

Either I can accept those excuses, knowing that I am letting myself down, and that I will not feel good about this decision later,




I can decide not to let this excuse keep me back this time.”

That’s it.  That’s all.  Accept or deny the excuse this one time.   And then the next time, and the time after that.  I’m not saying I will never accept the excuses.  I’m human.  So are you.

I’m just saying I am not accepting them today.



Hooray.  You’ve decided to slay one of those excuses that’s been holding you back.  You’re doing this thing!  You’re going for it!

On day 1, you expect to do everything, and to do every bit of it perfectly.

Sorry, honey.  It’s just not going to happen.  Sure, we might be able to pull it off for a week.  Maybe two.  But, then….you crash and burn.


To be perfectly clear, perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best.  It’s not about healthy achievement and growth.  Brene Brown, author, scholar, shame researcher, public speaker extraordinaire, describes it this way. “Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it is the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”


I’ve read Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, several times.

Good IS the enemy of great.  It makes us complacent and stagnates growth when we just decide that “good enough” is all we’re after.


Perfect is the enemy of good.  It makes us feel over-whelmed.  If we don’t face the reality that we’re not perfect, one small mis-step demoralizes and demotivates us.  This is when one cookie turns into one dozen; when one day off from the gym turns into a month; and when doing your best leaves you feeling like you’re not good enough.


What can we do about it? 

Take the middle ground.


Good is the enemy of great.

Perfect is the enemy of good.


How about striving for great?

It’s right there in the middle.

It IS possible and you’re already part of the way to that goal!


Understand that every day is not going to be 100% perfect.  That’s ok.  That’s, in fact, reality.


When it comes to setting goals, and establishing habits, Precision Nutrition recommends that we under-promise and over-deliver. What one thing have you decided to do for yourself?  Ask yourself,

“On a scale of 1-10, how confident am I that I could do this every day for the next 30 days?”  If your If your gut reaction is anything other than “9” or “10”, find a way to make that promise smaller or easier.

For example, instead of, “I’m going to stop eating all sweets, cut carbohydrates during the day and not eat anything after 7 pm.  I’m also going to go to the gym for 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week”, why not pick one of these to start with:

  • “I’ll stop eating at each meal when I’m about 80% full.”
  • “I’ll eat what I’m eating now, but slightly less of it.”
  • “I’ll eat one (or one more) home-cooked meal each day.”
  • “I’ll eat one big salad a day.”
  • “I’ll add vegetables to at least one meal each day this week.”
  • “I’ll add protein to at least one (or two) meals each day this week.”
  • “I’ll add 20 minutes of exercise each day. It might be in the gym but it might just be dancing

around the house as soon as I get home from work.  It might be going for a walk or actively playing with the kids/dog.”

  • “I’ll get two solid workouts in per week, scheduled in my calendar, and go from there.”




Focus on changing just one habit each week – or even just one habit every couple of weeks.


Ugg.  That sounds so boring.  How can we possibly reach our goals without being hard-core?



That’s how it works!  The people I have seen make the biggest life changes, did it one habit at a time…bit by bit by bit.






We tend to think that we just need to workout for 12 weeks, 6 months, or “until summer’:  whatever timeframe seems “reasonable”.  At that point, we’ll be exactly where we had hoped to be. We will be done.


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I received a message a couple of weeks ago, from a young woman who has done amazing things with her body! For the first time, EVER, she felt comfortable enough to take a selfie in her bathing suit!!! I mean, AMAZING!!!!

The problem is that she’s worried about her weight on the scale. She’s NOT alone!!! I have been doing this for a (very) long time. I counsel other people. I know the scale isn’t what we should spend our time struggling with….but…I do it too!! I am the heaviest I have ever been. It shouldn’t bother me. My husband says, I look amazing and that I have more muscle than I’ve ever had. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m still wearing the same size clothes I’ve always worn. But….that damn number on the scale. It bother me too. I get it. I’m a woman. Just like many of you, I’ve had weight pushed at me all of my life. I think I should never see higher than a certain number when I get on the scale. Just like you do.

It’s bullshit. But, there it is.

It’s not “just” inches.  That’s amazing!!!!!  WE need to try not to worry about some random number.  How do we feel? How do we look?



Further, let me ask you this. Do you want to be healthy just for 12 weeks, 6 months, or the summer?

I hope not.

I think we would like to be fit and healthy for life.

If that’s the case, we need to take care of ourselves for life.


That doesn’t mean “be on a diet” for life.  It doesn’t mean “killing it in the gym, every day” for life.  It means, implementing (boring, routine) healthy habits for nutrition and exercise, for life.

For real life, which is not a sprint or a “12-week program”.


Let that sink in for just one second, because it may change the entire way you behave from this point forward.

Healthy habits are for life.

So, what if we focused on incorporating health and nutrition into our (messy, crazy, wonderful) lives, as they are, instead of trying to cram our lives into some “program”?




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    • Ginger on October 4, 2015 at 20:46
    • Reply

    Wow! Awesome post.

  1. Perfectionism – ugh! It is so true that we need to take a step even if it is not perfect. In session with my clients, the issue is more that they try to do everything perfect and stress themselves. I often ask them to lower the bar. When you lower the bar you can still excel, but the pressure is not there!

  2. I have been putting on doing some fundraising. I think like that. Too many things to do today. I’m not sure how to do it. etc. I’m going to start tomorrow and set aside a time to start.

    1. The only way we can accomplish anything, Amy, is one step at a time. Good luck with your fundraising!!!!

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