Overcoming Perfectionism: 5 Tips to Being the Best Imperfect You

Overcoming Perfectionism-Sharpened Pencil

Do you often find yourself redoing something over and over because it just doesn’t seem “perfect”? Are you wasting your time making sure you get every little thing exactly as it should be before moving on? 

Do you find yourself scrapping project after project because it didn’t turn out the way you envisioned it?

If any of the above sound familiar, you may have perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can derail even our best laid plans because it is a struggle to move on until we believe everything is perfect.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, there is no such thing as perfect. 

In this article, we will explore what perfectionism is, why people become perfectionists, and most importantly, how to overcome it.

What is perfectionism?

Overcoming Perfectionism-Tidy Desk

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by striving for flawlessness and setting extremely high standards for oneself. These standards will likely never be met. 

People who are perfectionists tend to have a strong desire to achieve excellence and can be very hard on themselves when they fall short of their expectations.

Notice that it is personal expectations and not expectations that others put on them, although outsiders may influence perfectionistic tendencies.

Perfectionism can be harmful when it leads to unrealistic expectations, self-criticism, and anxiety.

The focus on always trying to be perfect leads to concentrating on mistakes rather than successes. Which may lead to feelings of low self-esteem and/or burnout. 

How do people become perfectionists?

Overcoming Perfectionism- Symmetrical Seashells

There are many reasons why people become perfectionists. Perfectionism is often seen as a desirable trait. After all, who doesn’t want to achieve excellence in everything they do?

But the truth is, perfectionism can be detrimental to our mental health and physical well-being. So, how do people become perfectionists?

One common way people develop perfectionistic tendencies is through their upbringing. Parents or other caregivers who hold too high of standards for their children may inadvertently instill an unhealthy need to achieve perfection.

These perfectionist tendencies can lead to a fear of failure and a constant need for achievement.

Another factor that contributes to perfectionism is societal pressure. We live in a world where success and achievement are highly valued, and this can create excessively high personal standards for individuals.

The pressure to be perfect in every aspect of life can lead to anxiety and self-doubt.

But the good news is that it’s possible overcoming perfectionism, and to break free from the chains of perfectionism.

Overcoming Perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism-yes, I am a perfectionist paper

If you are struggling with perfectionism, the good news is that you can change your patterns. Here are some tips to help you overcome perfectionism:

Recognize the problem: The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to acknowledge that it is getting in your way and it is a problem.

It can be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings about your perfectionism and how it is affecting your life.

Understand the self talk that goes through your mind when you see yourself using perfectionist tendencies.

Challenge your beliefs: Many perfectionists have deeply ingrained beliefs about what they should be able to accomplish. It can be helpful to challenge these beliefs by asking yourself if they are realistic or if they are causing you unnecessary stress.

Remind yourself that you do not need to be “shoulding” all over yourself. 

Embrace imperfection: It is important to accept that perfection is not attainable and that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of giving yourself a tongue lashing when you make an error, celebrate your mistakes as learning opportunities.

Practice self-compassion: Be kind and forgiving to yourself when you make mistakes or fall short of your goals. Treat yourself as you would a good friend who is struggling. 

Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to a therapist or a support group about your struggles with perfectionism. These resources can provide you with additional tools and support on your journey towards overcoming perfectionism.

How to deal with perfectionism

Overcoming perfectionism is possible, but it is important to remember that it may never completely go away. However, the more you work on your perfectionism, the easier it will be. Truth be told, you will have to go through some uncomfortable times during the process.

Here are some ideas for how to deal with perfectionism:

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1. Set realistic goals

Instead of setting unattainable goals, set realistic, achievable goals that challenge you but are still achievable. Rather than setting a goal to have your new project be perfect, challenge yourself to complete it in a timely manner. 

2. Celebrate your successes

Take time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may be. This can help you build confidence and self-esteem.

Tim Ferriss author of books, “4-Hour Workweek” and “Tools for Titan”, keeps a jar which he calls the Jar of Awesome.

For every success he has he places a piece of paper into the jar, and when he is feeling depressed or negative, he will go to the jar. It is way to feel gratitude towards the life he has made.

3: Take breaks

This may be a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. It can be easy to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. Take breaks regularly to relax and recharge. While it seems counterintuitive, taking breaks will give you more energy and creativity than pushing through. 

4: Focus on the present

Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, focus on the present moment. Practice mindfulness or meditation to help you stay in the moment. Being in the moment and focusing on what is right in front of you can help you to be aware of small wins in the moment. 

5: Practice Progress not Perfection

Recognize that nothing will ever be perfect. What you can do “perfectly” is make progress on what you are doing. Focus on the idea that taking one step forward is more beneficial than staying in the same place and not getting anything done. 

Final Thoughts

Perfectionism can be a challenging trait to overcome, but it is possible. While the moments may be uncomfortable, in the end the joy you feel from overcoming the issues will pay you back a thousand fold. 

By recognizing the problem, challenging your beliefs, embracing imperfection, practicing self-compassion, seeking support, and setting realistic goals, you can learn to let go of perfectionism and live a happier, more fulfilling life. Remember, progress is more important than perfection.


Ronnie Patterson

Ronnie Patterson

Ronnie Patterson, founder of MagnÜron, is a multifaceted entrepreneur with a diverse background in music, electronics engineering, and engineering management. Drawing on experience across various industries, He offers expertise in SEO, operations, and strategy to help businesses thrive. Possessing a unique perspective and unwavering commitment to collaboration, and ideal partner for growth and success.

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