This famous quote, attributed to Voltaire, is a useful reminder when we embark on doing something new. Because no mindset works against us more when we start something new than the perfectionist's mindset.
Know a perfectionist? You probably do. We all know somebody who decided to do something new, hard, and noble -- quit smoking, learn how to play an instrument, or eat from a new diet. It is all that person would talk about. She or he talked about it all the time because she was obsessed, and also because she was trying to keep herself true and perfect to adopting this new thing in her life.
What happened then when she made one little mistake? When she lit up a cigarette after being good for 3 and not having one, or when she did not pick up the guitar for 2 days after being good about strumming it daily for two weeks, or when she ate a sandwich after swearing off bread and being good about avoiding it for a week?
This perfectionist, after one such small mistake, she quit her noble cause. Why? Because she put way too much pressure on herself. She created way too high expectations for herself on being able to follow through this new thing perfectly. And thus, she set herself up to fail.
So what then is the best mindset when doing something new, hard, and noble, like adopting new foods into what you eat everyday and letting go of old favorites to lose weight and become healthier?
The answer is the mindset that let's you feel okay failing on occasion. In fact, build failure into your diet. Use Pareto's principle of 80/20, where you do things right 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you give yourself leeway to do the wrong thing.
If you plan to eat the right foods and not any bad ones for 4 weeks, I encourage you on 1 day to eat all the crap food you like. For 6 days, eat the right food. And if on one of those weeks, you eat the wrong food on 2 days, be okay with it. Just go back to eating right 6 days a week.
The wrong mindset tells you to try eating right for all 7 days a week, all 4 weeks a month,. The pressure and expectations to follow through everyday is much too high for our human nature, so you will quit doing the right thing altogether. Try to be perfect, and oddly enough, you will be far from achieving your goal of losing weight and become healthier versus if you tried to perfect most of the time and imperfect on a day or two each week.
So the Healthy Indian knows this well: Aim to be almost perfect, but never perfect, when doing something new, hard and noble like eating better food and not the old crap food you liked so much, in order to achieve success.