Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of The Good

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week’s column addresses the good, bad and ugly of Pinterest.

Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of The GoodI have a new foolproof fitness plan for the fall. I’m going to take all the “pins” I’ve been pinning on Pinterest for the last year on my “Fitness” Board, and I’m actually going to do them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Pinterest craze, it’s just fantastic. When you’re on the web, and you see something that catches your eye–say, a funny story, or a recipe idea, or a decorating theme–you can “pin” the picture from that website onto one of your “boards”, kind of like a virtual corkboard where you put pictures that inspire you.

But Pinterest has a downside. Remember how women used to collect Home and Garden magazines so they could dream and feel inadequate all at the same time? This is just like that–but take it up an exponential notch. It’s like a website for Superwoman. Why can’t I have thighs like that? Why does my eye makeup never look like a Hollywood glamour girl? Why didn’t I ever find the energy to make my son a Thomas the Tank Engine themed birthday cake and party, with cool invitations with pop-up trains?

Yet perhaps that’s the point. We spend our lives trying to find the perfect exercise routine, and the perfect way to schedule housework, and the perfect way to get kids to do chores, and yet maybe there is no perfect way. What I’m choosing to embrace these days is the idea that the only perfect exercise routine for me is the one I will actually do. So I’m going to try them all out until I find it!

It doesn’t matter how many calories it will burn, or whether it will target my glutes, or whether it will shape my shoulders. The only thing that matters is will I actually follow through? The same is true with any new lifestyle habit we’re trying to start: it doesn’t matter how good the plan is, and how healthy that diet is supposed to be–it only matters whether we will actually do it.

Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. So often we don’t make changes in our lives because we can’t do 100% of what we think we should be doing. And because we can’t do the 100%, we don’t even bother to do the 10%.

I think it’s even harder today, too, because there are so many versions of what perfect is. It’s not just on billboards or magazines; it’s there when we turn on our computers. It’s being shared all over Facebook. You can’t get away from it.

I will never make a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake, but I can make really good icing from scratch. I may never have perfect glutes, but I can start using my exercise bike more at home (and my iPad fits right on top so I can read while biking!). I may never make perfect Christmas decorations, but I can pull out those purple balls I love and put them front and centre on my mantle.

So instead of just “pinning” the things I want to do, I’m going to try some of them out and decide what I actually like. That sounds like a better action plan than just feeling guilty.

I will never be perfect, but if I even do the 10%, I’m still ahead of the game. After all, if you want a ship to go in the opposite direction, turn it by even five degrees and give it enough time. The course correction will eventually be complete. So don’t get overwhelmed by all the ways you don’t measure up. Just find something you can do, even if it’s small. Those small changes really add up!

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Comments

  1. I needed this extremely important reminder today. It’s OK to say “goon enough”. Thank you.

  2. Love this!!!

  3. thank you for these words!!!!

  4. Jim in California says:

    Sheila’s reference to the glutes cracked me up. The glutes are a complex muscle group. There are three muscles that comprise the glutes. The maximus, the medias, and the minimus. From my experience, the minimus pulls everything tight, the medias gives everything shape, and the maximus controls the size. You can Google exercises that specifically work each part of the glutes. All three are the key. Work from the minimus, to the medias to the maximus. Sheila, you are the best.

    Jim in California

  5. I love the picture bout turning the ship! Thats exactely true for my life right now. To turn a bit ang give myself time-if i did it all at once the ship would sink…

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