The stress of freaking out and hating yourself for slipping in your perfect routine or commitment is far more damaging than the slip itself.
In this age of everyone becoming Superman, of becoming and doing better than our best, we have unwittingly designed in a self-defeating response in our relentless pursuit of perfection: We have become intolerant of our own human-ness, of our own perceived imperfections.
In our quest to become gods we have forgotten the beloved phrase, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Don’t beat yourself up for every little deviation. The more focused and consistent your efforts are, the sooner you will get where you are going and the better your results will be, but you won’t be much fun if you become a pain in the ass about perfection. The whole reason we do any sort of self-improvement is not to become arrogant or oppressive, it is to optimize conditions within ourselves and the world around us so we can live happy and fulfilling lives with the limited time we have here on earth.
In my book Feeding Body, Mind and Soul I said, “You cannot paint a barn red with blue paint.” This means, very simply, that your choices and actions must be aligned with your desired result.
As true as this may be, as humans, we also need a little bit of deviation from time to time and it actually does us good to dip into the wrong color paint occasionally and color outside the lines! As a matter of fact, it is necessary and healthy. This is the nature of discovery. New worlds cannot be found if you never leave home.
There is a difference between stepping off the wagon from time to time to catch our breath or letting ourselves fall off the wagon completely.
Stress is one of the most significant and damaging factors in our quest for mental and physical health. It can become a habit in our tendency to be critical of ourselves. While clear observation and honest assessment is essential for any form of improvement, intolerance of failure can lead to self-loathing and the downward spiral of self-sabotage that perpetuates intolerance and lack of love for ourselves.
Without self-love, neither you nor anyone in your life has a hope in hell of actually improving and living a rich, purposeful and satisfying life.
It may sound trite, but you are perfect in your imperfection.
This does not mean that you can improve your mental and physical health and, therefore, effectiveness as a contributing human being on a steady diet of french-fries Oreos and Coke, but even if you eat a whole bag of of the crap after months of dietary perfection, all is not lost. It doesn’t mean you can start beating yourself up and you need to tighten your belt. Loosen up! If a can of soda or a drunken night is all it takes to derail you after a year of dietary perfectly, your implied OCD may be an indication of a more serious and damaging condition.
All improvement takes insight effort and action. It also requires persistence. What we tend to forget is that it also requires flexibility and support.
As you travel towards your North Star, don’t forget to take some of the side roads and to stop and smell the roses. Ultimately, no one really gives a shit if you get from point A to point B in record time. That is a lonely road to travel. What they do care about is that you are an amazing person full of joy and good energy because you have learned to love life and live it fully.
When all is said and done, that is also what you should care about.
See also: Clearing