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Old 05-05-2013, 01:13 PM   #1
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Default The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good

This is my WW blog entry from April 5, 2012. I'm sharing it here today because I need this reminder. I've been beating myself up lately for some mistakes I've made. Maybe someone else here will find value in this writing.

Lately, this quotation from Voltaire has been on my mind. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” This is a message that I need to internalize. So many failures in my life have been due to rigid thinking on my part and a notion that if I can’t do something perfectly, or at least extremely well, I won’t do it at all. This kind of thinking is what caused me to give up on so many weight loss efforts after just a few weeks or to stop exercising due to being awkward or getting sore. It’s played out in other arenas of my life when I’ve tried to add new skill sets and when I didn’t immediately grasp and excel at them, I just quit. Striving for perfection, and then falling short, has generated a lot of negative, nasty self-talk in words like failure, idiot, spineless, weak-willed, lazy, ugly, clumsy, stupid… Ah, ****. I’ve got a veritable thesaurus in my attic chock full of negative words I use to describe myself, particularly when I don’t excel at something I try to do.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” There are things in my life in which I excel. In my job, I tend to set the standards to which others aspire. This is not just idle boasting. My work products are being used as the gold standard throughout the state. There are documents and methodologies that I’ve developed that have been incorporated into Michigan’s system design methodologies. However, there are many more things in my life at which I’m not particularly good or maybe even just average. I tend to beat myself up about those areas in my life where I ain’t so good. Being fat is a big sledge hammer that I swing around in my attic, destroying any budding sense of accomplishment. “So what, you’ve just finished a major project under time, under budget and made the client very happy! YOU’RE STILL FAT! So what you climbed out of the swamp of bankruptcy! YOU PUT YOURSELF THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, OH, AND YOU’RE STILL FAT! So what you quit smoking! YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE SMOKED IN THE FIRST PLACE AND YOU’RE STILL FAT!” Get the picture?

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” This weight loss effort is not just helping me physically, it’s helping me emotionally. Early on, I made up my mind to take this slowly, to not overwhelm myself with expectations of perfection and to do something at which I’m very poor; I made up my mind to treat myself gently. I sometimes fail at all of those. But this time, instead of quitting, I calmly acknowledge that I shan’t be the perfect WWer, if there even is such a beasty. From time to time, I will stumble, I will misunderstand, I will choose wrongly, I will eat too much or too little, I will make poor food choices, I will skip exercising, I will have lapses of will power and breaches of rationality. I will do all these things and yet…

I will still be good. I will still be good because I will reach out for help, dust myself off and get back to it instead of quitting.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Yes, well, no longer, at least not on this journey. I don't strive for perfection here; I strive for health, both mentally and physically. And that, my friends, is good.

Last edited by Garnet2727; 05-05-2013 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 05-05-2013, 02:31 PM   #2
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Thank you so much for sharing this particular entry. I too am a perfectionist and if I can't be the best at something, will often just give up rather than risk failure (yes, I see the irony there).

I've been on my current plan for 5 weeks now, and it's going great (some might say perfect...). I've been really obsessed the past week about what will happen if/when things aren't going so great. My past pattern is to just quit. I don't want to quit this time. I want to keep going, even in the face of failure, if it comes to that.

So I hope it's okay if I borrow your Voltaire quote for my new manta, "The perfect is the enemy of the good."
Every day is a battle, but whatever, I'm scrappy ~Darcey

Each = 5 lbs gone for good!

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:31 PM   #3
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Great post! It's so true, you have to focus on the little things that you make you feel better daily and not so much about being perfect and losing weight fast. It's about moving to a well-ordered life in a sense.
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Old 05-05-2013, 02:41 PM   #4
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Thank you, Garnet. That is an incredible piece of writing. I am going to put that quote up on my goal wall. I hope you remember it too, in times of need
Weighing on the first of every month only! Countdown to the Calgary Stampede in July (and rocking the cowgirl look!)

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Old 05-06-2013, 07:35 AM   #5
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Fantastic post...like SuperHeroTeacher, my weight loss has been going pretty well so far and I keep dreading the day when things aren't going so well and I just quit because it's not going how I want it to go. I have been trying to focus on the little benefits of this journey aside from losing weight - sleeping better, exercising, being more productive...and I hope the little things will pull me through when times are tough.

You Have to Earn Your Body - one for every 10 lbs lost:
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:33 AM   #6
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Thank you for posting this. I relate so much to what you are saying. I'm also a highly accomplished person who often thinks "well, so what if you did X,Y,Z because you are still FAT!!!"

I also agree a lot with what AnnMarie77said. It's about living a well-ordered life and finding pleasure every day in small things.

I wouldn't say that I give up easily in most things, and there are several BIG things that I have achieved only after getting very close to success, losing it, and then forcing myself to keep going. So, I've decided that weight loss is going to be the same. I should expect some failure along the way but not quit.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.--Winston Churchill
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:39 PM   #7
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Great post!

One for every five pounds lost!
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