Perfection is hard to achieve—almost impossible. Even if you can achieve perfection, it is fleeting and short-lived. Setting your goals high is a given. Just keep in mind that even the best plans and the best of intentions are not going to be perfect all of the time.
We all have high standards for ourselves. Hell, most of us have high standards for the people around us, as well. For years, I would focus on trying to have the perfect workout, the perfect diet, the perfect daily structure, etc. It ended up frying my brain and my motivation. The process was no longer enjoyable. Even professional athletes cannot maintain the perfect plan on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Before you say YOU can, let me explain what I mean by "perfect."
My definition of perfect is when a training session could not possibly have been any better, any more efficient, or productive. From a diet standpoint, the perfect diet is the most efficient diet plan that feeds your goals optimally. Again, the diet couldn't be any better. Perfection of training and diet is also about executing both, flawlessly.
When people say they can maintain perfection with their execution, they really mean they can maintain consistency. Consistency over time is what will get us to our goals. Perfection is just aiming a bit higher and being good with not always hitting the mark. It's the old adage that says, "shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars." That may sound like not setting the bar high enough, but there's a fine line between realistic and unrealistic goals.
I have told my clients for as long as I can remember that consistency over time will allow you to enjoy the process or the journey toward your goals. Perfection will drive you insane and make you feel like a failure on a regular basis. An endeavor needs to be enjoyed and appreciated, and if you only focus on perfection, you will not allow yourself to be happy with the process. Too many people are more concerned about crossing the finish line instead of enjoying the process.
In simple terms, it means that on those days where you aren't feeling 100%, you still should train even if you have to drop the intensity or get a brief workout in. If you aim for perfection, you might want to take the day off so that you can go 100% "tomorrow." There will be times when this might be the best option; an injury is a good example of this. However, people who focus more on perfection can sometimes get lost in the minutiae. I used to consider not training if I was only able to get 3 meals eaten instead of 4. I would also consider not training if I got 6 hours of sleep instead of 8. The consistency rule says you train, anyway, while the perfection rule says you wait until all variables are perfect. Guess who goes further in this game of bodybuilding (and life)? That's right—the person who chooses consistency.
If you end up focusing on perfection in relation to your physique, this is even harder to attain. And who defines physique perfection? Even the judges at any given show will not judge you on perfection; they judge you based on who you are standing next to. I could run down almost every pro bodybuilding physique at the Mr Olympia and find a flaw in every single competitor's physique. Are they striving for physical perfection? Of course. Are they ever going to achieve it? Almost certainly not. However, consistency over time got them to the pro level.
Not every set or every workout is going to be perfect. Your meals won't be timed perfectly on a day-to-day basis. We all live complex lives with obstacles that come up all of the time. If all you do is eat and breathe bodybulding, you might find yourself closer to perfection as far as execution. Still, it would make for a pretty boring existence. We take part in an endeavor that can consume us 24/7. To a certain degree, the more time we spend on this bodybuilding thing, the better we become.
This lifestyle, whether you compete or not, is not a race; it's a journey. Journeys should be enjoyable because at the end of the day, the amount of time we spend and devote to this hobby of ours is substantial. I can't imagine doing something for the last 38 years if it wasn't enjoyable—and yet, I have. The times I pursued perfection were the times that I abhored the process. I loved the structure of it, but the sacrifices were huge. It was when I found balance that I have been able to progress consistently and at the same time enjoy the journey.
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