Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Imperfect Perfectionism

"At first it sucks and then it doesn't."

"Don't miss the bus."

Profound words to remember from, IronWil, a wonderful blogger at

I was dreading the swim this morning. My back hurts and feet ache. Plus, I woke up at 4:09 and couldn't get back to sleep and my swimming group doesn't start until 5:30.

No big. I'll just pull the sheet over my head and deal with it later. But... there it was on the swim training schedule: 3,300 meter time trial.

That had me worried. A nasty case of procrastination was like a lead weight holding me to the mattress.
What could be leading me to procrastinate? In a word, doubt. 3,300 meters is a long distance for me to swim at this point in my training. Up until now 2,500 or 2,600 meters has been my max distance in practice. So, what's another 25 lengths of the pool?

Plus, I have the choice not to train, right? Nobody's gonna fine me if I miss practice. Perhaps today would be a good day to rationalize myself into a dozen reasons to not feel bad about missing swimming and feel good about doing who-knows-what else.

What's to doubt? My ability to finish the practice perfectly is what's in doubt.

Oh crap! The quickest way to be captive to a fear is to give in. Each little rationalization is like one of those Lilliputian ropes shot over Gulliver. Every rope on its own can't hold a giant like me but a few dozen is enough to keep me down. Or are they? But wait, rationalizations aren't ropes they are thoughts. Swimming isn't about thoughts. It's about, well... swimming!

Achieving perfection isn't as important as is attempting perfection. Thinking that I must swim perfectly at the first attempt of a long distance will likely prevent me from ever getting started. This belief that I must finish the swim practice with perfect form and feeling strong is a recipe for stress and who needs more stress when it comes to swimming? So, why don't I just put off until another day and create my own perfection-or-nothing escape route? Well, that's just it, perfection in itself can be a trap.

A solution for the perfection trap is to give myself permission to come up short, to be human every now and again, as long as I'm willing to try again. Write this one down," An imperfect job completed today is always superior to the perfect job never started." Accept that no challenge always goes your way and the outcome isn't always your choice. However, it is your choice to compete or not. The shortest route to not winning is to never enter the arena. I know I can swim the first 1,500 meters with power and near perfect form. So, instead of worring about the unknown I'll focus on what I know I can do and let the next 1,800 meters happen as they will.

Bring it pool. Game on!

At 5:00 I pulled my car out of the garage.

At 7:00 I marked in my training log, "3,300 meters completed."

Lilliputians be damned I made it to the bus on time.

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

21stCenturyMom said...

Whenever I start reading someone's blog I like to find the first entry they ever did. In almost every case there are 0 comments.

You deserved a comment for this one. You deserved it for fighting the bed monster (as I like to call it), for including some good quotes and for gettin 'er done. So here you - 15 months after the fact - Nice post!