PERFECTLY IMPERFECT: 5 Steps to Avoid Being Overwhelmed

“I am more vulnerable than I thought but much stronger than I imagined.” - Anonymous

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in the face of adversity, the possibility of enormous growth presents itself. Knowing this makes the idea of the constant struggle for perfection, tiresome.  Setting your goal as that of perfection is often so lofty that it becomes paralyzing, stopping us in our tracks.  

Those who wish to lose weight, eat better or make any one of a hundred healthy lifestyle changes, feel unworthy of the pursuit, and quit before they even begin. This lesson I have learned, if not once, then repeatedly.  

I worked with a client recently who wanted to fit into a size 4 (her idea of perfection) within a certain time frame.  We lined up the elements of her wellness journey - Eating Clean®, Exercise and Emotional Wellness - and began.  I created her program, customized to her goal of fitting into that model size.  

Week after week I would check in with her.  But something felt wrong.  I could feel low energy when I spoke with her.  She wasn’t experiencing the high that is so often the result of commencing such a journey.

One day I stopped it all and asked her what was wrong.  It wasn’t long before I learned she was in a complete state of overwhelm.  It was time to pump the brakes.

Together we went through her program and I asked her what the one thing was that she could commit to.  “That’s easy,” she said, “drinking water.”  

With that, we parked the customized plan I had made and focused only on drinking more water.  I asked her to release the idea of incorporating all the wellness goals I had given her, to let go of being a perfect size 4 and embrace hydration.  The result? This she could do.  Her state of overwhelm disappeared when she let go of trying to achieve perfection, which often feels insurmountable because who knows what that really is.

Within a week she was getting her full complement of water - 3 litres - in, and had lost weight.  She felt successful in achieving this one, small but mighty goal. The reason? Overwhelm was gone. She had replaced drinking several sodas a day and no water, with drinking water and that changed everything.  

I learned from this too. I am so passionate about what I do that I think everybody can do it just like me.  But it’s often too much. Too much to ask and too much to expect.  When I break it down into smaller, doable chunks, it fosters success.  The goal is not perfection but small accomplishments that add up to long term success.

Has there been a time in your life when you had set your sights on perfection but felt thwarted in achieving it before you even got started?  Tell me about that in the COMMENTS section below.  In the meantime, for those of you who want to start now, here are some tips to encourage success:

1. Focus on Progress not Perfection: Perfection feels limiting, even paralyzing. When we can focus on progress instead, we are empowered to continue because we make progress despite challenges.  Reflecting on your progress validates your ability to make change, which fosters motivation.

2. Break it Down: Taking a lofty goal and breaking it down into smaller pieces feels more achievable.  We can lose 5 pounds relatively easily.  We can start exercising by walking, which is less intimidating than the gym.  By taking the big goal and breaking it up into smaller, manageable pieces, we set ourselves up for success.

3. Join a Community:  Making change is never easy but you feel less isolated and more supported when you are among others wishing to make similar change. This is why I provide a private Facebook group for all my challenges, like the Spring Detox Challenge. The going feels much easier when you are doing it with others.

4. Be Willing to get Real: Accept where you are now, wherever that may be.  If you have 55 pounds to lose, accept that fact and know that today you begin your wellness journey.  Just as easily as one can get out of wellness, one can make a return to wellness.  Along the way know that setbacks and failure are part of the growth.  Every successful person has gotten there through numerous failures.  Accept failure as part of your progress and use these moments as learnings.

5. Progress is Sustainable: Making small progressive changes towards wellness or whatever goal you choose, is sustainable.  Trying to get to perfection from too far away feels impossible before you even begin. Small, progressive steps ensure success.  Be happy with that.

And now it’s your turn.  Tell me about your journey. Your steps.  Motivate someone else today.

Warmly and with great love,

Tosca Reno