Episode 21: Functional Over Optimal

I have to tell you all that my boyfriend, Jon, called me out the other day, and that is the story that I’m gonna tell in this episode. So, I’m gonna tell the story and then I’ll talk about the lesson.

So, the other day, I had gotten two of my workouts done for the week, and then Wednesday came around; I didn’t do a workout on Wednesday. Thursday came around; I didn’t do a workout on Thursday, and I still had two left. And I like to workout on Sundays, and it was like Friday night by the time we were having this conversation.

So, it’s Friday at, like, 6:30 PM, and I was talking to Jon, and he was like, “Well, are you gonna workout?” And I said, “Well, I just don’t know what to do. I don’t think I’m gonna workout because today is Friday. I could workout right now, and I could workout tomorrow, but then I won’t have a rest day, and I won’t be rested for next week, and I really want to start next week on Sunday because that’s best for my schedule.” And he kind of looked at me, and he could tell that I was frustrated with my own workout adherence.

And so, because of his look that he gave me, I was like, “I don’t know. I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated because I feel like lately I haven’t been as good about getting my workouts done as I want to.” And like he does, because Jon likes to just drop truth bombs about my behavior when we’re just casually eating dinner, he said, “Well, you know you’re being really perfectionistic about it, right?” And I was like, “What do you mean?” Because, in my head, at that point — and this is why having an objective person in your life, whether it’s a coach or otherwise is so important — in my head, I was making a perfectly logical decision. I was like if I don’t workout today or tomorrow, then I can start over on Sunday, and I won’t have any soreness, and next week will just be better. And he was like, “You’re going to not workout at all because you don’t think it’s optimal for you to workout three days in a row or to change your schedule next week.

He’s like, “There’s a really simple solution here, and it’s just that you get it done today, you get it done tomorrow, you get it done Sunday, and it kind of sucks to have those three workouts in a row, but you get it done.” And I looked at him, and I was like, “Ugh,” because I hate it when he’s right, and he’s almost always right, especially when it comes to me and my behavior. But it pointed out something that I had really let sneak into my consciousness, despite working against it with lots of clients, which is that we need to prioritize functionality over optimal, okay? Functional over optimal.

Is it optimal for me to not have a rest day before I start a new week of training? No. But in that moment, the most functional decision, the decision that was actually going to get me closest to the result I want, was for me to get a shitty workout in on that Friday night, for me to go on Saturday and get a quick workout in, even though we had a lot of other stuff going on, and then for me to still do the workout on Sunday so that I would be on track. That would create the most function in my life. But I was resistant to it because my perfectionistic brain, my brain that loves the future and the optimism of the future wanted to be like, “Oh, but it would be so optimal if I just skip these and then on Sunday I start over, and I’m magically on track for the rest of my life.” That’s what my perfectionistic brain thinks is going to happen.

And when I’m working with clients, I see this so, so, so, so much, right? People who are making decisions based on what’s going to be optimal, and what that does is it sacrifices a decision that might be perfectly functional. So, for example, maybe it’s not ideal for you to workout in the morning. That’s not the optimal time based on whatever book you’ve read or whatever your brain thinks your schedule should be or that’s not the optimal time that you feel the best when working out, but maybe on that Tuesday or whatever, getting up in the morning and getting the workout done is the most functional for your schedule.

So, that is what I wanted to remind you today. Always examine what you’re choosing, and ask yourself, “Am I choosing this because I think it’s optimal, or should I choose something else because it is functional?” It is hard to let go of our perfectionistic tendencies and to choose things that are functional, and if that’s something you struggle with, we can definitely coach you on that in Alliance Coaching, but awareness — again, going back to the previous episode that we talked about, awareness is key, and awareness of what we’re doing that would be the most functional in getting it done, getting the result we want even if it’s not optimal, even if it’s not perfect, even if it doesn’t match our magical schedule or our perfectionistic idea of what the week would look like, it’s still done, and that’s what matters.

All right, y’all. That is it for today. I will see you in the next episode!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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