Monday’s Meditation: On The Fantasy Of The Perfect Track Record & Failure
Despite the fact that we know there is no perfect diet, house, business, relationship, day, and so on, when we fully commit ourselves in any of those directions, on some level, we expect perfection from ourselves.
We want not only to have tangible proof of our changed habits and behaviors, we want the glory of the perfect streak. We want to be able to claim our efforts, without there being a single blemish on our track record.
I decided to start eating healthy and I haven’t eaten a single piece of processed food ever since.
Ten years ago I decided to run seven miles every day and I haven’t missed a single one since then.
I decided this year to Live Simply, and since then every single space in my home has been perfectly organized and maintained at all times.
Those kinds of exemplar track records do exist, and there is a particular kind of pride and feeling of accomplishment that accompanies them.
Except, too often, the failure to uphold that perfect streak deters us from pursuing our goal, at all.
When many of us falter, the response is not to correct our misstep as quickly as we can, but to acquiesce.
No point, now. We think.
I’ll never be able to say ten years from now I haven’t missed a single day, so just forget it.
Let’s call the whole thing off.
Ironically, our response can be to further indulge the habit or behavior we know is the worst for us.
It might be that you slip up on your commitment to eat healthy, real foods, and eat some gross, processed junk because it’s the cupboard, or it’s out at the party, and you just can’t resist. Instead of trying to correct yourself by next chowing down on a leaf of kale, you consider the day of would-have-been perfect eating spoiled. And so you relinquish your will power and better knowing, and stuff your face with whatever you can get your hands on.
Or, it might be that you loose control of a space in your home after vowing to Live Simply, and rather than taking time out to immediately rectify the organization of said space, you figure it’s a lost cause for now, and what’s another sweater thrown onto that pile?
This thinking is not only harmful to our wellbeing, it’s entirely unnecessary.
There is almost no probability that efforts to uphold an intentionally arrived at lifestyle, one that involves a zillion, small, daily decisions, and factors both in and out of your control, will ever be perfect. Because life. And sickness. And children. And meetings. And instances where intuitive leanings in the moment take precedence over long-held resolutions and will.
The most beneficial thing you might do is accept that your track record will not be perfect now, and that you intend to uphold your values and priorities in spite of that.
You can’t make imperfect what likely never had the capacity to be perfect. You can’t ruin your track record with one action or lack thereof. But you can damage it with more of those harmful acts.
This is why it’s essential that we understand that the moment we make a misstep is the best time to correct ourselves, not to punish ourselves by further indulging the habit, vice, mental excuse cycle, and so on that now causes us shame and disappointment.
The only effective response to a blemish in our track record is to recommit ourselves to the path that leads to our best selves, and to feed, nourish and nurture ourselves back in the direction of love.
It is truly never too late to correct our mistakes of the past (yes, thirty minutes ago is past) by making more loving, more intentional, more joyful and more fulfilling decisions going forward from right now.
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