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How to Overcome Perfectionism

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How to Overcome Perfectionism

Perfectionism is defined as the desire for everything to be done perfectly and the inability to accept anything less than that. The problem is that this is not a realistic, sustainable outlook on things. Perfectionism paralyzes you and can keep you from getting anything done. It makes it impossible to be satisfied with the outcome of any of your work.  When you are waiting for perfection, it doesn’t come, leading to procrastination and unfinished projects.

Those who have a perfectionist attitude tend to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, always finding something that isn’t “right.” There is a lot of pressure in this mindset, which generates anxiety and stress. This often leads to a lot of beating yourself up and self-deprecation, which can easily prevent you from finding happiness.


Perfectionism is difficult on time management and leads to always feeling behind.  It becomes extremely difficult to move through your to do list. Projects take much longer than expected and sometimes don’t even get completed. When you have a perfectionist attitude, you are ruled by specific guidelines and expectations that make it easier to get thrown off when things don’t go as planned. The result is that there never seems to be enough time.



  1. Believing something is either a success or failure, and that there is no in between.
  2. It’s a catastrophe when things don’t work out the way you planned.
  3. Inability to trust others to do things correctly.
  4. Difficulty moving past a mistake or something you feel was not done right.
  5. Obsessing over the details, no matter how small.
  6. Procrastinating getting things done
  7. Focus on what you feel “should” be and strict rules around everything
  8. Measuring and defining oneself based off of accomplishments and failures.



  • Allow yourself to be human. Recognize and accept that you will make mistakes sometimes, but it is not the end of the world.


  • Ask how you would perceive this if it were someone else. It is generally easier to be less harsh on others. The perfectionism attitude often does not get applied outside yourself. Therefore, to gain objectivity, you can ask yourself, “would this be acceptable if it were someone else?” More often than not, the answer is yes.


  • Listen to other people. With perfectionism, positive responses are not believed and don’t matter. Start letting and trusting that feedback, instead of obsessing and overanalyzing.


  • Catch negative self-talk and blame. Notice when you start beating yourself up and hyper focusing on “mistakes.” Force yourself to stop such thought patterns and, instead, replace them with positive thoughts.


  • Let go of all or nothing thinking, believing that something is either a success or a failure. Allow there to be a gray area. Know that something can be great even if it’s not perfect.


  • Let go of shoulds. Shoulds get you stuck in one way, rather than having the flexibility to evaluate as things develop. Focus on what the goal is and if that goal has been reached, rather than how you think you should have gotten there.


Perfectionism adds unnecessary stress and anxiety that is avoidable. It is important to notice perfectionist tendencies and attitudes and work to shift away from that. Don’t let perfectionism stand in your way. Use the above tips to change your mindset to one that is more in line with reality.

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