Strive for Consistency, Not Perfection
by Erik Castiglione
Atychiphobia, the fear of failure, is a common phobia. Especially here in Connecticut, where we take it to the extreme. One of my former business partners summed it up best: “Coming from CT, you learn to feel that if you fail at a task, it is a reflection of you as a person. If your project doesn’t go as planned, you are a worthless, failure of a human being.” To make things worse, this phobia tends to go hand-in-hand with the need for perfection. If your task/project/event isn’t perfect, you have failed.
While this combination can drive people to be successful in school and work, it tends to have the opposite affect when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Very rarely do we accept “good enough.” If we can’t achieve perfect results, we tend to quit early on, or not even start. I’m here to tell you that this “all or nothing” attitude needs to go. Take a long-term, 10,000-foot view rather than focusing on the here and now, and you’ll be much more successful, and much happier.
Let’s look at a nutrition example. Say you’re following a macro plan, and you’ve determined the 4 meals you can eat in a day that will get you to hit your macros and calories perfectly. Are you going to eat these same 4 meals every day for the next year? Probably not. While some people can get away with this, the rest of us crave variety. Perfection is boring! And yet, people put all kinds of pressure on themselves to be 100% compliant. This in turn leads them to binge on weekends and go way over their allotted weekly calorie goal, undermining their progress and long-term goals. Instead, it’s important to allow yourself to indulge from time to time, and to not feel guilty about it. If you’re eating 4 meals per day and are only compliant for 3 of them, you’re hitting 21/28 great meals per week and your compliance is 75%. This is very high, and unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you’re still going to see results if you can stick to this long-term. (If you don’t believe me, our weekly nutrition article this week contains ONE MILLION data points collected over a year and shows that even at 10% compliance, you can still see results). The bottom line: if you fall off the wagon for one meal, one day, or even one week, you’re still only one meal from getting back on, and it’s not the end of the world.
The same goes for exercise. It’s okay to miss a day or even take a week or two off throughout the year. For me personally, I FINALLY got back on a program after a month of haphazard workouts. It took me 3 attempts over 3 weeks to get here. Life happens. Work, kids, friends, family, injuries, illnesses, and a multitude of other factors can interfere with your best laid plans. It’s okay, and you can still make long-term progress. Keep starting again, and eventually it will stick.
You’re not going to be perfect in your fitness and nutrition journey, nor should you try to be. Straying from perfection DOES NOT make you a failure. The only way to fail in this endeavor is to give up, or not even try in the first place. Keep starting over. Enjoy your days off, but then get right back on track. Doing this will help you stay consistent, which is the key to long-term progress. Michael Hyatt said it best: “Consistency is better than perfection. We can all be consistent; perfection is impossible.” Grind on!