As a kid, I proudly considered myself (and you probably would have considered me) a perfectionist. It wasn’t so much that I took ages to do projects in the name of getting it right, but I did take a lot of care to get it right. I sweated it out a little bit if it wasn’t right. I did a lot of “how could this have been better?” analyzing.
And I will say I lost most of that perfectionist attitude somewhere along the way. Maybe it was getting an A on an exceptional project, only to see someone’s decent project also receive an A. Maybe yoga slowly loosened perfectionism’s hold on me. Whatever it was, I’ve got a new way of looking at things: done is better than perfect.
Perfect tried to sneak up on me again when I was finishing Yoga for Runners. I’m not proud of how long it took me to get it done, but I did have a few setbacks (both technological and geographical) as well as some chosen changes in direction that essentially resulted in starting over. Anyway, trust the timeline of your life, right? I say things like that.
As I finally closed in on completion, I started to worry:
- Is this good enough?
- Will people benefit from this?
- Should I have fought harder for better lighting, better sound?
- Should I do more classes?
- Should I do longer classes?
- Should I dig up more studies showing how brilliant yoga is for athletes and everyone else?
You get the picture. It slowed me down again, but I woke up one day and remembered something important:
Done Is Better Than Perfect
I could still be sitting on it, striving for a perfection I can’t even visualize, but I decided to just get it done. And I’m proud of it. It’s helpful. It filled a hole I found on the internet, which was a lack of complete, focused yoga for runners. (The internet likes short classes and lists of 10 best poses.) If runners choose to follow the program, I strongly believe their running will improve.
So it’s done.
Your “Perfect” Workouts Are the Ones That Are Done
This got me thinking about fitness in general. How many times have you avoided a workout — or shamed yourself for one — because you thought it was missing something? Maybe you didn’t work as hard as you intended. Maybe you left the gym early. Maybe you missed your normal class, your running partner was unavailable, or you felt tired.
But you don’t need perfect workouts or perfect yoga practices. You just need to do them.
I still have far-from-perfect workout days. A couple of weeks ago, I showed up at F45 and was one minute into the warm-up when I thought, oh, poor, tired legs, how are we going to do this? There are many times I wish I had been better hydrated or had eaten more food, times I wish I had worn a different pair of underwear, times I wish I had worked out in the morning instead of waiting until evening.
Sometimes my yoga practice gets interrupted by my dog or a nephew, sometimes the floor feels exceptionally hard under my knees, and sometimes I drink too many margaritas.
These create imperfect conditions for yoga or exercise, but it doesn’t matter. When you get the workout done, it still counts. It’s helping you develop a habit, and it’s getting you closer to your goals. Working through the imperfect conditions (forget a hair tie? wrong shorts? dislike this fitness instructor?) builds a certain mental resilience that will power you through fitness and many other areas of life.
In this way, perfection becomes an excuse. Perfection is trying to stop you from being and doing everything you could be and do.
Don’t let it.