Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without – Confucious

This evening I went to the hotel gym. A tiny room with two treadmills, one elliptical, a few dumbells, and some low weight kettlebells. I ran for 30 minutes then knocked out a circuit using the weights. It wasn’t a perfect workout, it didn’t follow any program, but it felt great and I’m looking forward to doing another one tomorrow.

I have a severe problem with procrastination. I procrastinate when it comes to my writing, my working out, and my dieting. This year I’m determined to get a grip on the situation and retrain myself by building new habits.

One of the insidious ways that procrastination, or resistance if you are familiar with Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art, gets me is through perfection. I’m always waiting for the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, the perfect program, the perfect conditions.

With working out I’m always stalling because I tell myself that if I go to the gym I have to follow a program. I can’t start a program on a Wednesday, I have to wait for Monday. When Monday comes something always keeps me from the gym, so not only do I miss starting my planned program, but I miss another entire week I could have been lifting.

It’s the same story with writing. I often procrastinate by making excuses to perfection. I can’t start working on this short story because I only have 30 minutes and it deserves more time. Tomorrow I will have two hours for sure. I can’t work on this project because I haven’t read the 30 books on the French Revolution that I’m going to reference. It’s never the right time, never the perfect environment.

So, that’s why I’m happy that the last two weeks I’ve taken every chance to just get to the gym and get something done. I know that I’m not working out optimally, but living in a hotel room out of suitcases isn’t conducive to micromanaged fitness routines. As long as I make it downstairs and move some heavy things my goal is met. It’s not a perfect situation but it’s definitely a good one.

Same with my writing. In the next few months, I’m going to be all over the place. I won’t have a perfect office with a comfortable chair, aromatic candles, and mind-opening background music. What I will have is my laptop and hopefully, I will take advantage of my imperfect minuscule time to get some writing down.

Perfection has its place, specifically when it comes to polishing final products. But you will never reach that stage if you let procrastination take hold and use the excuse of perfection to never create anything.

8 thoughts on “Perfect is the Enemy of Good

  1. Exercise has been my main hobby for about 30 yrs, which is mind-blowing to think about. I used to be a little obsessive about it. Now I just do what I enjoy at the moment. Hotel gyms can be enjoyable. I remember being in Mexico 15 yrs ago and doing pilates in the hotel room because I was obsessed with abs. It was not enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person


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