05 – Learning to accept good enough

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Learning to accept good enough instead of always striving for perfection. 

Sounds so easy, but it’s oh so fucking hard to do, right? This is a topic that is weighing heavily on my mind today as I’m recording this so I figured I’ll actually change my plans and record an episode about this instead of what I had originally planned so we can talk about this. 

I’m also going to provide a tool a bit later on that you can use and to work through perfectionism and it works for pretty much any situation. I’ve used it in different contexts in my own life and I know my clients have as well, so I want to present that to you as well but before we get there, I just want to talk a little bit more about what perfection or perfectionism means and why we still go after it all the time, like we just have these ideas in our heads and our brains about how a particular plan will go right. 

We make what we’re calling the perfect plan of, let’s use working out as the example here, ’cause it’s probably a common one. 

And we make plans to go certain number of times to the gym or out for runs. And we kind of think about that in isolation and basically say “Oh yeah, doing it four times sounds good”. But then do we actually question whether or not that plan and those expectations are realistic? And do we consider all the other things we’ve got going on because we don’t exist in little vacuums and neat little boxes right? 

The areas in our lives aren’t packaged up nicely so that you know you have a gym box that you know that’s only that stuff won’t impact anything else. That’s not true, right? 

We’ve all had days where we’ve had a shit workday, and/or we’ve had arguments with kids, so they’ve been little shits [laughs] or we’ve had a fight with our significant other or our partner, or just anyone really traffic could be a bit shit… and that means the workout doesn’t get done that evening. 

We’ve all been there right? I’m the 1st to put my hand and that sometimes that shit still happens, like that’s still my life, but we don’t necessarily think about our goals or what we’re trying to change, we think about them in isolation. 

We don’t think about them as part of a bigger context, as part of a bigger picture and I’m here to change that, I’m here to remind you that last time I checked you’re 1 human, we’re all just the one human that has lots and lots of different parts in their life and they all intersect and impact each other. 

And perfectionism is something that screws us up because it kind of keeps us in that way of thinking, right. In that it doesn’t allow for any room of a little bit less than perfect or just good enough. 

It doesn’t allow for that. 

We think we have to strive for perfection. We have to get it right and we have to get it right first time. 

And there’s nothing else that matters and that counts. 

And what that does, is that when we try to go after our goals or we try to meet those expectations that we have of ourselves when we don’t achieve them – we start getting down on ourselves, right? 

We call we call ourselves names, we think we’re failures. It might even be a time when the good old fuck-it spiral shows up because you’re like “well what’s the fucking point? Why am I even doing this? Like I’m never going to be good enough and we’re going to get there and never going to achieve this thing.” 

When at the root of it has nothing to do with your capability, it has nothing to do with you as a human and you’re worth or anything else. 

But it might be a sign that the expectations of what you were trying to meet, or the plan that you came up with was just unrealistic and impossible to achieve. 

So to start with, maybe if you’re if this is resonating in little or even winding you up a little bit – have think about where this is showing up in your life. 

And curious, ugh curiously (is that a word? I don’t know) but with curiosity, ask yourself: 

Is what I’m trying to do here actually realistic? Is it actually achievable to do? 

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals, or you shouldn’t push yourself and you shouldn’t go out of your comfort zone. That is not what I’m saying, because those things are still very much very, very helpful. 

But what I am saying is that a lot of the how you get there – what are you expecting of yourself there, and is that something that you’re actually able and capable of doing right now because of all the other stuff you’ve got going on in your life. 

For example, in New Zealand, right now at the time at the time I’m recording this that’s we have additional restrictions again in terms of navigating life, navigating public life and that may impact you. 

So maybe you have to adjust, maybe you have to look at a few things and go “well, actually because these things are currently going on, is there something that I need to change?” 

That’s what I’m asking you to do here and there’s no judgment, right? That’s the curiosity piece – there’s no judgment. It doesn’t mean anything about your capabilities or abilities it just a circumstance. 

Right, and this is a bit of segway into the tool that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that I want to walk you through today and it’s something that I work on with clients a lot and myself, I think hands down the tool that has helped my clients because you can apply it in so many different areas and it’s basically, I think one of my clients actually coined it the continuum meter, but sometimes I’ll just refer to it as the continuum

What it is, is a tool that helps you view a situation with a bit of different perspective. 

And so what I want you to do – I’m actually going to walk you through it so what I want you to do is think of a situation where you’ve been aiming for perfection, you’ve been aiming for the highest of expectations that you could muster but you’re falling short (whatever that even means to you) 

Like you’re trying to do the thing and you’ve got this particular idea of what it needs to look like in your head, but you’re not, that idea isn’t coming to fruition, right? You’re not making that a reality. 

And now I want you to imagine an arrow with two ends or continuum (that’s where this comes in).  

And on one end of that continuum, or close to one of those arrow heads, you put that idea of perfection right? 

That if like the most amazing like you, you’ve literally everything gone your way, it’s all been amazingly perfect – that goes on one end of that continuum meter. 

And then on the other end you put a big Fat 0 or write nothing, whatever it is. 

Just by doing that often the light bulb starting to flicker, because you can see there is a lot of room in between those two ends, in between those two arrowheads. 

And by the way, if you have a piece of paper to hand or a white board around, actually take a pen, or you know a marker whatever, and draw a line and add those two options at either end and then, actually write down ALL the options in between. 

You might have to make quite a big, like draw a massive, massive line because there will be a lot of different options and scenarios between nothing and 100%, amazingly perfect. 

And now I want you to look when you’re done, so you can feel free to pause this through this podcast right now and draw the thing and write everything on your piece of paper or on the whiteboard. 

And when you’re done, I want you to have a look at that and I want you to have a think about what it feels like to look at all those options to not just see nothing and perfection. 

Obviously I can’t hear you answering and obviously you can let me know, of course, but you don’t have to but really, what does it feel like? 

Imagine if you have days where you know, some days you’re going to be closer to that amazing end, and that’s fantastic. 

But other times you might be closer to that zero, right – but not quite there at the same time, like you know that might be a bare minimum kind of day. 

And then in the middle you might have  “actually this is good enough” 

You know this is what today looks like if you know, for example, if you have five tasks that you need to do weekly and one week you get through five of them. That’s freaking brilliant. 

It could be tasks, it could be workouts, it could be, you know, this is open to any context, really. 

And you know couple of weeks you’ll get, you’ve got the five, that’s amazing. 

After two weeks, you’re down to three. Cool, it’s not five. It’s not your vision, your idea of perfection. But it’s also not nothing, is it? It’s a rhetorical question. 

By looking at those options and even naming them as you know, amazing, great, good enough, just about OK, bare minimum and nothing like you can you know you can come up with a bit of a labeling system there if you really like ’cause it might be helpful, but looking at your options like that can be really, really helpful to start to gain a different perspective on your situation, right? 

Because instead of achieving perfection or trying to achieve perfection all the time, you’re giving yourself other options that aren’t nothing, and I know they’re not perfection and I know it’s hard to accept that, trust me. I’m there in some areas of my life still, so I know this shit isn’t easy and it sounds a lot easier than it is. I know that, but I do want you to have a go and to try this. 

And I especially want you to think about what it feels like and what it sounds like in your head, when you think about getting something done that might or won’t be perfect, not just might – it will not be perfect. 

But it also isn’t nothing, so you’re keeping up that momentum. You’re keeping the habit alive, you know you just maybe barely walking but you’re not stopping. 

What does it feel like? What does your brain tell you about that?  

By the way, little side rant here: Resting and stopping and not doing anything, are also totally valid option sometimes, and so is quitting by the way too. None of those things mean anything about you as human. And so if you actually are in a position where you know what I actually, I just need to do nothing for a day and you’re in a position where you are able to do that,  because unfortunately, not everyone is. 

But if that’s something that is available to you, it’s also totally fucking OK to do that. Because you can’t keep trying to hit 100% 24-7, however many days we have in a year. 

You’re going to burn out. It’s not possible. It’s not sustainable! 

So if you actually need to give yourself a bit of a break – do that! That is ok! There is nothing wrong with that. 

It doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re quitting, even though that is OK, it just means you need to fucking rest!  

OK, I think that’s all I had to say for today – I just really want to keep hammering home that we all, and I mean us all, the royal we, need to keep working on accepting good enough instead of just trying to get perfection all the time because that is literally, it’s just not possible. 

We’re humans, not robots. And we’ll make mistakes, we won’t always get it right. 

But we’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep pushing and keep trying, and that’s ultimately what matters? 

OK, so even this episode – prime example: 

I’m not following the plan that I’ve made for myself, number 1. Number 2. I’m still using a lot of filler words that I don’t like, especially when I listen back because I feel like I’m a shit speaker. 

And I’ve probably heard a bunch of awkward pauses in this episode. 

But I’m not going to re-record it, I think this is actually a freaking brilliant one and I’m going to hit stop in a minute and let you get on with your day. 

But this is exactly what I’m talking about, you know, could I re-record this five more times and get less pauses or you know, less filler words, less uhms and ahs and ughs and whatever – sure. 

Probably I’ll get a better episode – I might be more concise with making my point, give you more time back in your day.  

but I still recorded it – I’m recording an episode, I’m publishing my podcast.  

I’ve barely been doing this for a year, and you know a big chunk of that I did with someone else so of course I’m going to be a bit shit, of course it’s not going to be perfect, so actually right now I’m working on accepting good enough with this podcast so if you need another real life example, here it is.  

Anyway, I hope you found this helpful, if you are keen to learn more about that continuum meter or you want to talk through a particular situation and get some perspective, please reach out over on Instagram, my handle is in the show notes or you can email me and I’ll chuck that link in the show notes too ’cause I’d love to help you out with some of this stuff.  

Obviously you can work in a more professional capacity with me too and the info for that is in the show notes as well. 

I hope you have an awesome day and I’ll chat to you soon.