To some extent, we all deal with perfectionism. Maybe we’ve set too high standards for ourselves or someone else, or we’re struggling to live up to someone else’s expectations. This can be challenging enough in settings like work or school. But when it comes to your health, perfectionism is an especially challenging obstacle.

You may unconsciously have an all-or-nothing philosophy regarding your health, especially if you have resolved to do better. Even a single failure can lead to discouragement and potentially abandoning your resolution altogether. Let’s take a closer look at how to avoid the issues caused by unrealistic standards.

Nobody’s perfect, but we may subconsciously expect ourselves to be. This can get in the way of making any kind of progress, especially when health is involved. Here’s how to keep your goals realistic. #MainStreetMedical #MainStreetClinics Click To Tweet

Determination Doesn’t Last Forever

Your New Year’s resolutions have likely included health goals before. Maybe you wanted to lose weight, exercise more, eat more vegetables, or form any number of healthy habits. The fresh start brought by a new year inspires excitement and the feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to. But as anyone knows, that feeling doesn’t last forever. As you try to keep your resolution, you may start to realize what a challenge you’ve given yourself and struggle to keep up. And as your resolve weakens, your desire to keep your resolution will too.

Perfectionism Holds You Back

Perfectionism depends on an emotional high that, as mentioned above, is only temporary. You’ll quickly find that your standards for yourself are either impossible or highly improbable given your current situation. And when you make a mistake–maybe you forget a scheduled exercise period or eat a donut instead of a healthy breakfast–you feel discouraged and frustrated that you couldn’t maintain your plan perfectly. This discouragement can build on itself and lead to more mistakes. If this process continues unchecked for too long, you may eventually discard your resolution altogether and go back to your old habits.

Pro Tip: Don’t expect to adopt new healthy habits overnight! Give yourself time to adjust and get used to these changes.

Focusing on Progress

Fortunately, overcoming perfectionism is a simple process to begin. First and most importantly, recognize that you will make mistakes and allow yourself to slip up. Nobody’s perfect! As long as these mistakes don’t turn into constantly recurring habits that sabotage your efforts, slipping up won’t destroy your long-term goal.

Second, recognize what you’ve already done or are currently doing. Celebrate every pound lost or mile jogged. Rather than feeling discouraged that you were only able to work out for 15 minutes instead of 30, recognize that even 15 minutes of exercise is an improvement over no exercise at all. Give yourself time to work your way up to the goal.

Finally, understand that real improvement takes time. No one expects a teenager with a brand-new driver’s license to be a perfect driver, after all. Forming new habits and focusing on your health is a process. If you allow yourself to adjust to that process and work your way to a better lifestyle, you’ll enjoy far more success than if you tried to completely change everything overnight.

Don’t Give Up!

Drastically changing your diet or workout routine presents a unique set of challenges and temptations. Mistakes will inevitably happen. However, the ultimate key to your success is perseverance. Keep your eyes on the goal and work your way there at a reasonable pace.

Contact us to learn more about developing a healthier lifestyle.

Dr Abbas Jafri MD