Yesterday morning, I decided to go for a run because I’m back in Paris, which means I’m living next to a big park again for a few days. I told myself to go easy because I had not run in almost three weeks, so I decided to do 5K at a moderate pace. And I did, but half through my run I felt some pain behind my right knee, as I sometimes do, but I kept going, ignoring the feeling of blocked knee.
Once I was done, I went home, stretched and showered. Then I wondered : why did I feel the need to do my 5K even though I was hurting ? First of all, working out is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. Second of all, it was not a competition, I was by my own. Then I realized that this behavior is not only related to my workouts, but also to work or hobbies, and that I’m not the only one experiencing it either.
Don’t you sometimes (always?) have this feeling of need to do better, to constantly strive for progress ? Because I do, even though this is crazy. I mean everyone has good days and bad days right ? In fact, one might say that failure is part of success, not an obstacle, and that in order to succeed and better yourself, you need to fall down on your knees (figuratively, or not), a few times before.
We need to be aware of this because unfortunately our tendency to perfectionism can ruin our projects. Too often I’ve found myself avoiding writing a blog post on a more complex topic about productivity, time management or affects under false pretenses. My go-to excuse ? “I’ll never be able to write something better than him/her, so I’d better let it go”.
But in reality, it is necessary to understand that the important is not to be better than this or that person – or even to do better than your past self – every time. Setbacks are part of your progress. You should consider people better than you at something as models to follow, they are there to motivate you to push your limits.
Ultimately, it is the work achieved that matters. It is the fact that you went for a run, even if it “only” was 3k because your knee hurt. It is the blog post published that matters, not the ideas still in your head. It is the fact that you participated and voiced your opinions instead of holding onto your thoughts that really counts at the end of the day. You get the idea.
Next time you feel down because you did not push your limits, remind yourself that you don’t have to – and cannot – live each and every one of your days at 110%. If you want to sustain a healthy lifestyle while doing an activity, whether that is working out, writing, painting, don’t forget that you’re in it for the long haul.
Relaxing, doing less is not a failure, it’s a choice, and a necessary one sometimes. As the saying goes : less is more. In fact, it has even been proven that being bored and relaxed can boost your creativity by giving your mind some time off responsibilities. It’s like for children : when they’re bored, they’re bound to find a new activity, create a game to have fun !
So be more like a child : less serious and more indulgent with yourself, because I’m sure you would not push your friends as hard as you persist pushing yourself. Remember : you are your best friend.