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7 Ways to Get Over Perfectionism

New Year’s resolutions seem like a good idea at the time, but when it comes to implementing them, you may feel you need to be perfect in order to make any headway.

There is a way out of this dilemma. You probably can use a few tips, though. Check out these suggestions on ways to break the need to be perfect:

  1. Know that you’re worth it.
    People have a tendency to devalue themselves. There’s always someone who’s better, richer, smarter, better liked, in better shape, and so on. The problem with comparisons is that you start feeling like you can never measure up.

    Know that you have value just the way you are. Money doesn’t define you. Neither does fame, number of likes on social media or any external trappings. When you recognize that you have value, you’ll begin to be more at ease in your own skin, happier with what is instead of always looking for the next big win.

  2. Learn how to prioritize.
    Constantly striving for perfection is like a go-kart with a broken wheel flying pell-mell down a steep incline. There’s bound to be a collision and injuries are likely. People bent on perfection feel compelled to complete everything on their agenda to their absolute best. No half measures will do. This means even more self-imposed pressure to succeed.

    How do you get past this impasse? Time-management experts recommend learning how to prioritize. This works for projects, tasks, leisure pursuits, educational goals and just about everything else. Not everything on your list can be done at once. You can tackle the most difficult, challenging or time-consuming item first or you can choose to work on the one you know you can get done the quickest.

    For some, being able to tick off several short-term items helps lessen the pressure. Others prefer to make significant headway on a tougher choice. Learning how to prioritize helps reduce the need to always be perfect.

  3. Set boundaries.
    Perhaps you’ve piled so much on yourself that you’re beginning to feel underwater. You’re also likely to say yes to things when you should be saying no. There comes a time when all that striving for perfection catches up and the result is not pretty. You have the right to gently let someone know that you won’t be able to handle that extra project or take over for them when you’re already swamped. You can soften the blow by saying you’d be glad to help out when you’re not so busy. You have to set boundaries so that others respect what you say and you aren’t trying so hard to please.
  4. It’s OK to ask for help.
    Ceaselessly juggling multiple tasks is a self-defeating behavior. It doesn’t work. Something’s bound to drop eventually. Admitting that you’re not perfect may not feel good, but it’s easier than dealing with profound exhaustion, depression, anxiety or other ills.

    Others may ask if you need any help. If they do, and if you do need it, be gracious enough to accept. This isn’t a mark of weakness. It’s a sign that you’re well-adjusted and know the value of your support network. If no one asks if you need help and you know you do, don’t be afraid to initiate the request. It’s more than OK. It’s what compassionate human beings do.

  5. Perfectionism is an unneeded shield.
    People think that perfectionism is admirable. Just the opposite is true. A person who portrays invincibility and always appears to be perfect is hiding behind a shield. Those who carry the perfectionism shield erroneously believe that it will offer protection against vulnerability, judgment, blame and shame.

    Rather than offering protection, the shield holds you back from being your authentic self. In addition to recognizing that you have worth, you need to know that you are worthy just as you are. You don’t need to make drastic changes to be worthy. You don’t need hundreds of friends who compliment your talent, beauty, popularity, thinness, intelligence, wealth or some other sign of perfection. You only need to be who you are, and be comfortable with that person.

  6. Be grateful for what you have.
    Being grateful is more than just saying thank you to others when they give you gifts or do something nice for you. The concept of gratitude is important to being able to live a full and authentic life. It helps you to accept all that has happened — the good and the bad — and being thankful for all of it. Friendships, love, good health, a job you enjoy, hobbies and activities you actively take part in are more important than perfection. When you recognize that you can’t hold perfection or love it, the true meaning of gratitude may start making sense.
  7. Rewrite your life map.
    Perhaps your outmoded, unworkable view of your life has led you to chase perfection. Instead of striving to live up to other people’s expectations, take out a clean sheet of paper and rewrite your life map. Start by envisioning what you truly want to accomplish. If nothing comes to mind, list skills and talents you possess. Concentrate on those that you derive pleasure from and enjoy doing.

    Next, jot down areas of interest you’d like to pursue but haven’t had the time to explore. Be explicit; capture as much detail as possible. If you always wanted to travel to Australia and trek the bush country, that’s a goal worth mentioning. Suppose you’re fluent in several languages and want to do something with this ability. Put that down and make a plan to research jobs where you can actively use your multiple language fluency.

    When you rewrite your life map, a curious and wonderful thing happens. You’re able to let go of the awful weight of trying to be perfect. Instead, you’re allowing yourself just to be, to follow your dreams and greet life in the present with joy and excitement.

Woman with map photo available from Shutterstock

7 Ways to Get Over Perfectionism


Suzanne Kane

Suzanne Kane is a Los Angeles-based writer, blogger and editor. Passionate about helping others live a vibrant and purposeful life, she writes daily for her website, www.suzannekane.net. She is a regular contributor to Psych Central. You can reach her at [email protected].


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APA Reference
Kane, S. (2018). 7 Ways to Get Over Perfectionism. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-ways-to-get-over-perfectionism/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.