About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Worst Enemy

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a perfectionist.  I firmly believe in quality over quantity and that if you are going to tackle a task you need to do it right.  My need for perfection has served me quite well as I have excelled in my career tackling complicated projects and completing them in an organized and methodical approach.  I have also been told I have great vision; that I am highly strategic and know how to set the building blocks today for the future tomorrow.

What I have failed to realize until recently, is that my perfectionism and vision come at a terrible price.  I’m talking about stress.  Not normal stress that everyone deals with from day to day mind you, but a different kind of stress.  For lack of a better term I’ll call it “fictitious stress”.  I call it that because it’s not real (except to me).  Those of you who are not perfectionists probably won’t understand.  That’s okay, I’m writing this down for me and I’m writing it down because, after 42 years on this planet, I can’t believe I’m just now putting 2 and 2 together and figuring this out.  I may need to come back to this post and read it from time to time just to remind me that I’m literally causing much of my own suffering.
Let me try to explain to you how I create my own stress… It starts with observation of things that are not perfect.  I notice little things all day long and I put them in the memory banks.  Once they go in, they stay there until resolved.  There they sit; festering and creating stress for me until I address it and get it corrected.  It’s like a splinter… it just keeps bugging me until I take care of it.  The problem I have is that some of this stress is real, but a large majority of it is simply created in my head.

Here’s an example… Sometimes when I write a post here on this blog, I will spend more time editing and correcting, then I do actually writing it in the first place.  If it’s not quite right, I will stress myself out until I fix it and I’m completely satisfied.  I’ve written posts, couldn’t get them to sound right (in my head), and after hours of trying to edit and correct, simply gave up and deleted it.  Why???  I’m not a professional writer; I’m not getting paid to write this stuff, I simply enjoy getting an idea and then writing about it.  I put undue stress on myself for something that should be a source of relaxation.
OK, so now I’ve figured something out about myself; now what?  Well first, it’s great that I finally recognize it.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve always known I was a perfectionist, I just never really noticed how I create my own stress.  Now that I can see it, I can work on it.  I won’t be able to change overnight, but I can begin to ask myself if my stress is real or not.  I still need to figure out how to deal with stress, but more importantly I need to work harder at eliminating the stress that I create in the first place.

I once got a performance review at work that said I hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else ever would.  The comment was written under “Areas for Development”.  I thought the person who wrote it just put it in the wrong spot; I took it as a compliment.  I now understand that it wasn’t.   I am my own worst enemy.   
[Photo: Flickr / Brian A]


  1. FD, holding ourselves to a higher standard can be great for others including our employers but detrimental to ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That's a tough issue FD. A lot of people, me included, are experts in creating our own stress. Glad you are starting to put the pieces together. :)

  3. I'm more of a "near enough is good enough" kind of person which hasn't always served me well, but I think I am this way because I grew up with a brother who has OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder - which is the far end of the spectrum you are on. It was/is so utterly horrible for everyone around him but most of all for him. A shower would literally take him all night, many hours, because it had to be done "perfectly" whatever that meant. So he couldn't shower very often, it was too exhausting. And it was like that with everything. He still lives with my mum, he's 46.

    What I learned from that - and I've never thought before there might have been any benefit to it! - is that perfect means different things to different people (his perfect is nothing like mine!) and that taking perfectionism too far is definitely not a good thing. Each task takes so long that a lot less gets done. You need to find the sweet spot where doing a good job meets doing a timely job, taking into account what the end product is actually worth to you or others. For example with your blog posts, which I think are wonderful, need to be reasonably good or people won't want to read them but making sure they are super polished is only worth a certain amount of your time. Eventually (quite quickly) you get diminishing returns for the work you put in.

    Anyway, I'm not saying you have OCD, that is an extreme. But I know where you are coming from.

  4. Well, you learned something about yourself and that's necessary for improvement!

    I have perfectionist tendencies myself. I have learned, in some areas, to accept less than perfect.

    I don't know if you are this way or not, but I'm such a critic. I notice every little thing that is not perfect. I drive down the road and see a stranger's house and think "if they'd just paint their porch, the whole house would look better". I listen to the preacher preach and I keep an ear turned for things I disagree with or that I think he's mistaken about. When I walk into a new place, I think "What do they need to change here?" I always have an opinion on how something could be improved! This is not a healthy skill in many situations! LOL

    Hey----you are doing good. Be good to yourself.