Optimal: Perfection in an Imperfect World

As humans, we are always chasing perfect. Whether that means chasing a number on a scale or a number in the gym, we get wrapped up in this idea that if we put in an exact amount of work, we will see exact results. We tend to look at results as the sum of an equation. We eat X amount less, we lose Y amount of weight. We work out X amount of days a week and we’ll burn Y amounts of body fat. But this idea is flawed for one simple reason: 


Life is Imperfect. 


Life is dynamic, ever changing, and impossible to completely control. We have jobs, we have kids, we have school. Our cars break down, we can’t fall asleep some nights, and sometimes we spill our coffee. Maybe we’re running late one day and we have to miss a workout. Maybe we’re short on time and we have an unplanned cheat day. Life is imperfect, so how can our plans and programming be perfect? Chasing perfection is like chasing a unicorn. It can’t be done. We expect perfection and when we fallshort, we lose motivation and we feel like giving up. 


So what can we do?


We must rewire our thoughts and stop fixating on “perfect.” You may never be able to achieve “perfect” but technically perfect is not the goal. If you create a goal for yourself, and are doing everything and anything within your control and power to achieve that goal, your efforts are optimal. We must start chasing optimal because unlike the unicorn that is perfection, optimal is 100% achievable and unlike perfection, it does not discourage continuation of progress. 


Optimal > Perfect


Optimal means doing your best with what you have, and where you are. Optimal is relative to all the circumstances in your life and is constantly changing based on said circumstances. Circumstances you cannot always control. Perfection is a concept set in stone. Absolute, fixed and unchanging. Life however is not fixed and unchanging. Human beings are dynamic creatures and we live in a dynamic universe. 


“Optimal is the human version of perfect” - Elish Le    


If we can change our mindset and accept Optimal in place of perfect, we can more easily accept and learn from our shortcomings and failures instead of letting them grind our progress to a halt. Accepting optimal also allows us to make adjustments and changes on the fly. Life often blindsides us to unexpected obstacles. If we prime our minds for optimal, we can adapt and glide around these obstacles instead of letting them smash through us. 


Whether the goal is weight loss, strength gain, becoming closer to our kids, or learning a new skill, we can all benefit from understanding the importance of optimal efforts instead of perfect efforts. 


“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” - Theodore Roosevelt



Ryan Ho