FEBRUARY 8, 2021
The Trouble with “Wanting to Get It Right”:
Confessions of a Straight A Student
BY MARK FISHER
My dearest reader, today I shall tell a tale of a personal, hard-earned lesson.
It relates to this important nugget:
The pursuit of perfection is a common source of thwarted fitness dreams.
If you’re someone that really wants to “get it right,” this can be a hard habit to break. After all, “getting it right” has probably brought you many good things in life. And there’s a time and place for dialing in every single little detail.
But when it comes to your fitness, perfectionism can be a real obstacle.
Particularly if your goals are: “have energy, be healthy, and maybe lose a few pounds by eating pretty well and staying active…”
- Getting it approximately, kinda sorta 90%ish right = Good Target!
- Getting it absolutely perfect no mistakes of any kind and if you mess up at all you may as well give up anyway got a scratch on your car windshield WHY NOT TAKE A CROWBAR TO IT AND LIGHT YOUR CAR ON FIRE BECAUSE EEF YOUR LIFE = Not As Helpful Target!
Allow me to share a personal pattern I’ve observed during my years in my Mystical Magical Meatsuit…
With the exception of a few (stinging) departures, I was pretty much a straight A student through high school.
So far as I can tell, this was for three reasons:
- I had some natural aptitude for “the game” of school, including but not limited to the ability to stay focused, strong memorization skills, work ethic, etc.
- A desperate burning desire to “be good”/ do a good job/ get it right.”
- On some deep level, I didn’t really care all that much, because I knew it wouldn’t matter for my eventual chosen career as a movie star.
Of these three reasons, I attribute much of my success to the third reason. Because it took the edge off the second reason.
You see, to this day I sometimes struggle with a crippling desire to “be good/ do a good job/ get it right.”
This can be rocket fuel for performance. And it often serves me well. However, if I don’t soften the edges a bit, it can take me down dark tunnels of perfectionistic suffering.
Historically, “not caring enough” has rarely been the source of my life challenges.
I HAVE run into issues by being an over-f*cker: which is to say, foolishly giving too many f*cks on the wrong thing.
It’s been an interesting contrast to observe. Because in many realms of my life, I can be pretty damn content to be imperfect.
A great example is writing.
I don’t care about writing. I really don’t.
I kind of care. So yes, I’ve read some books and taken some courses.
But… I don’t really care. I can’t really relate to the whole “tortured writer sitting at your keyboard and bleeding” thing.
I just kinda write. Then I edit it two or three times. Then I send it out.
I’m not trying to be Hemingway over here. So I don’t get in my own way.
This contrasts with other areas of my life where I’ve been known to trip myself up.
One (painfully honest) glance at my life highlights a very clear pattern:
When I care SOOOOO much and try to be absolutely perfect, I get in my own way.
I view any veering off-course as an abominable moral failure and inarguable proof that in the final judgement, I suck, I suck, I suuuuuuuuuuck.
Happily, this isn’t always how I show up (see writing, or, to my wife’s long-suffering chagrin, cleaning). So I know I’m capable of continuing to improve here and give less unwarranted f*cks. Getting older has also helped.
And ultimately, I’m not trying to “give no f*cks.” I just don’t want to be an “over-f*cker.”
I want to give to right amount of f*cks in an intentional manner that aligns with my values and supports my goals.
And I bet you do too!
So what’s the takeaway for you and your fitness?
Sometimes when you desperately want to “be good/ do a good job/ get it right” you can fall into all-or-nothing thinking.
And fitness is hard enough for most of us without that added pressure.
This isn’t quite as easy as snapping your fingers. Because no magic wand will help you care less about something that’s powerfully important to you.
But I wonder…
Where in your life do you notice success because you give just the right amount of f*cks?
Lest anyone tell you otherwise, it’s ok to care about stuff. That’s part of living a passionate life!
However, it’s important to acknowledge you can have too much of a good thing.
So by all means, pursue your goals and dreams.
But lube up for the journey with a heapin’ dose of self-compassion.
And if you also have the “be good/ do a good job/ get it right” monkey on your shoulder? Is he whispering shittalk in your ear? Allow me to gently place my finger on his pee-pee and give him a gentle but vigorous nudge to send him soaring.
Remember, the real goal for your fitness behaviors isn’t 100% perfection.
Unless you want to be a pro bodybuilder, your results with 90% will be virtually identical AND you’ll enjoy the ride more.
Loving you like the rustle of palm trees on a tropical beach paradise,
PS: You want in on some of our sweet, sweet loving? You saucy minx… 😉
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