Perfection is unattainable, simply because it does not exist and can never be measured. What one person considers perfect may not be perfect in another persons eyes. Therefore, there is nothing to define what is and isn’t seen as perfect. This means, no one can ever know when perfection has been achieved.
Typically, perfection is when something is done without fault. For example, when training goes exactly as it should and the plan is followed exactly. However, the thing about striving for perfection is, it is unrealistic, but it will also always leaving you feeling like you aren’t quite good enough.
A lot of athletes, and a lot of people, myself being one of them, constantly feel the need to strive for perfection. We tell ourselves that unless we are able to achieve perfection in our own eyes, then we are not good enough and things are not going well. The challenge however comes as perfection constantly changes. Once we reach the point that we previously may have deemed as perfect, our bar is already set higher, so we still haven’t reached it. As a result, we constantly feel like we are not improving and not getting better. How do we expect to ever feel content with what we are doing when we are striving for something that is unattainable? This is bound to make us feel insufficient.
Perfection may also be limiting. If the word suggests doing something exactly as it should be done without fault, however we may define that, it may actually hold us back. If we aim to do something exactly as it should be done, we may hold ourselves back by not thinking that we could go beyond that point set. There is no need to put limits on ourselves, so why aim for perfection, when we can aim to be even better than whatever that may be. So how can we stop striving for ‘perfection’ and remind ourselves that we are enough? Perfection does not get to decide whether we are or not.
What can we do?
Recognise that perfection is not realistic.
Perfection is something that can never realistically be achieved. As it has no exact measurement or definition to it, we never know if we have reached it. For this reason, as soon as we accept that it cannot be achieved, we will stop constantly striving for it. Essentially, to achieve perfection is meaningless, as there is always a point beyond it.
Go with the flow.
Everything cannot always go to plan all the time. If it did, life would be boring and predictable, and also cause problems. The art of being able to improve and progress, is recognising that deviating from the plan is also important to do. In order to avoid injury and burning out, we need to make last minute changes to the plan.
We are bound to have days that deviate from the original plan, but this doesn’t mean they are ‘bad days’ or that they aren’t perfect. In fact, this is exactly as the day should be in order to boost us forward. ‘Bad days’ are not bad, they are just our body and mind telling us that we need to hold back a little. More often than not, changing the original plan will give you more benefit than sticking to it would.
Set other targets.
Perfection is not a target. As we previously established, it can’t ever be achieved, so we can’t set it as a goal. There are plenty of other things we can focus on that will propel us further forward and also make us feel good because we can achieve them. For example, specific pace efforts, goal race times, or race positions are all things we can achieve. If we focus on these as a bigger picture, it won’t matter if the journey to get to them changes from the plan initially set.
Be kinder to ourselves.
Finally, be kinder to ourselves. Just because we didn’t go the route we deemed to be perfect, doesn’t mean we failed or we weren’t good enough. It simply means we had the strength and rationality to realise that the set path wasn’t the best one for us at that moment. There is no point criticising ourselves or putting ourselves down, because that won’t help anything or anyone. For plans to change, we don’t have to have failed, we have to have succeeded at seeing a better route. So, next time you think to beat yourself up for a last minute deviation from the plan, remember, the new route is the right one.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!