Growth Doesn’t Come from Perfection

“Growth is often uncomfortable, messy, and full of feelings you weren’t expecting. But it’s necessary.” — Unknown

Yellow fall tree
Fall Trees in Big Bear 🍁

You don’t grow in the moments of perfection. You don’t achieve your goals or see progression because you were 100% perfect and followed everything to a tee. Sometimes you don’t see results because you do everything by the book and don’t leave room for error, room for mistakes or room to learn from them. Think about it:

People don’t live a healthy and balanced life because they never eat sweets, they work around the clock without breaks, or think rest is for the weak. They aren’t successful because they never treat themselves. They live a healthy, balanced life because 80% of the time they are consistent and 20% of the time is budgeted for the “good stuff,” including rest. (Side note: rest days are a sign of strength often mistaken for weakness).

The people who aim for 100% perfection (no breaks at work to get the job done, limited carbs, no sugar, boring workouts, very little rest days) are usually the people who burn out the fastest. Does any of this sound fun? Not really. It’s deprivation driven and it sucks. I know because I’ve been there more times than I can count.

You aim for 100% perfection for such a small fraction of your life and you don’t end up making changes to sustain yourself in the long run. When you focus on the 80/20 rule, which goes far beyond nutrition, you still allow yourself to enjoy the things you love. The 20% just allows you to moderate it, so you’re not depriving yourself consistently and ensures you’re also not overdoing it.

As I mentioned, the 80/20 rule extends far beyond nutrition. It can also apply to so many different aspects of our lifestyles. Think about the content we consume, the people we interact with, the treats we love to indulge in, and the list goes on.

From a content consumption perspective, if we applied the 80/20 rule, it could look something like this: 80% of the time you read books that add value to your life in some way and 20% of the time you indulge in Netflix series, fun apps, etc. Think about if you cut your phone and/or technology usage down to 20%. My guess is most people are clocking in around 80% (maybe more).

Gradually decreasing the usage and altering how you use it could create a ripple effect because one positive change leads to another. If you feel like you can’t go without your phone think about what’s on your phone that you could do without. Can you limit your social media usage? Can you install apps that are proven to help develop your skills or encourage you to engage in healthy habits? You’re probably thinking, You said not to limit or deprive yourself earlier. You’re right. I did. But there’s a difference between depriving yourself from things your body needs and limiting exposure to the things we can live without that don’t serve us. It’s different for everyone, and this is one of the most notable examples.

For instance, bread and sweets are always seen as the culprit when it comes to weight gain. We hear it all the time: I’ll cut out bread and I’ll lose weight, right? Wrong. You’re taking away something you enjoy that’s a regular part of your lifestyle. While you may need to temporarily cut back on consumption to achieve your goals, it’s something you need to deprive yourself from entirely. (Full disclosure: I’m not a nutritionist or fitness professional, so please consult your doctor or coach before taking any advice online. I’m just here to share my experience and hope others can relate ☺️).

The same thing goes for apps and technology. You don’t need them, but you’re accustomed to them. They’ve become a part of your routine, so it may feel natural to go through withdrawal.

The goal is not to cut as many things out as possible though. It’s to strengthen your 80%, so that you feel more fulfilled. What can you add to the 80? What can you take away from it that isn’t serving you? I have a couple ideas and some things that work really well for me:

  • Journaling or blogging
  • Planning out my day
  • Incorporating gratitude into my morning and nightly routine
  • Establishing a morning and nightly routine for self-care (yoga and skin care routines)
  • Reading my favorite books
  • Creating/crafting/art

The 20% could be things you don’t do often or know you need to cut back on, but you still want to enjoy from time to time. For instance:

  • Treating yourself to lunch
  • Playing your favorite game
  • Getting a massage or mani/pedi
  • Watching your favorite movie or series
  • Enjoying dessert at your favorite bakery

Think about it: we can’t sit around and watch movies all day, but we also can’t cut out bread and swear we’re never going to eat it again until we lose “all the weight.” Even if you lose “all the weight” and try to limit the treats you indulge in, chances are, you’re not losing the mental and emotional weight that goes with it.

Deprivation can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional state. It can lead to bingeing the things you’ve told yourself you can’t have or enjoy. It gets easy to believe that you already messed up, so you might as well quit now, give up for the day, and start over tomorrow, right? Wrong again. The 80/20 rule is about balance. It gives us perspective and permission to make mistakes. I probably could’ve made a healthier decision, but I’ll do better starting now, not tomorrow. There we go; now we’re on the right path. Too many tomorrows pass by and before we know it, a significant chunk of time passes where we could have been putting in the work and time to reach our goals.

You learn in those 20% moments. Sometimes they’re 30-40% and when they start to feel like they’re creeping up on 50+% then it’s time to reevaluate strategy and asses your goals. Check in with yourself, pay attention to what you’re feeling, and do what is best for yourself always. Growth doesn’t come from perfection; it comes from perception. 🌷

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