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How to overcome perfectionism – 7 simple strategies you can start with

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Wondering how to overcome perfectionism? Here are 7 simple strategies you can start with.

  • Do you have trouble completing tasks because they don’t live up to your high standards?
  • Do you often think that if you had just worked a little harder, then this task would have turned out better?
  • Do other people ever comment on how great your work is, but for some reason, it never seems good enough to you, and you’re constantly feeling that you should be trying to improve it?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might benefit from some tips and strategies to overcome perfectionism.

Having tendencies to perfect things and having high standards is ok. But if you struggle with it or procrastinate and don’t get things done, you might want to find strategies to overcome perfectionism. And here are 7 ways to do so.

But first, What is perfectionism, and what kind of person is a perfectionist? And is striving for excellence the same as striving for perfectionism?

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is kind of like the “tyrant” inside your head that tells you how to do things and what’s good enough—so it can feel more overwhelming than productive at times.

Yet, everyone has some level of perfectionism because there are always new skills we want to learn, difficult tasks we want to tackle, and tight deadlines that are looming on the horizon.

Perfectionism can be helpful because it pushes you toward excellence, but perfectionism becomes a problem when it interferes with living your life to its fullest potential or achieving what you set out to do.

How to overcome perfectionism

Characteristics of perfectionists

Perfectionists tend to be people-pleasers and have a hard time saying “no.” They work really hard on things. They want to do their best.

People can also be perfectionists because they have high standards that are hard to live up to, or the fear of failure is so great it’s almost paralyzing.

Perfectionists tend to be often harder on themselves than anyone else is willing to be – they don’t take criticism very well because it makes them feel like failures.

Instead of finishing tasks when they’re “good enough,” perfectionists continue to work on them because it’s not “perfect” yet.

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist? Or if you have perfectionistic tendencies?

Here are some signs that might point in this direction:

  • feeling like everything you do is never good enough
  • feeling overwhelmed (or like you’re a failure) because something didn’t go the way you wanted it to go
  • having high standards that are hard to live up to
  • not getting things done and procrastinating a lot even though you work hard
  • being afraid to make mistakes

RELATED POST: Perfectionist Traits – 9 Signs You Might Be a Perfectionist

Excellence is NOT perfectionism.

A perfectionist believes that they have to do everything perfectly, and if it’s not perfect, then you might as well give up.

Excellence is striving for the best you can be and committing to getting better with each task.

So instead of focusing on perfectionism, focus on progress. And if that progress leads to excellence – that’s awesome!

And how can you do that then? Here are 7 strategies that can help you overcome perfectionism.

7 Strategies to overcome perfectionism

Overcoming perfectionism is an uneasy process with a tricky balance of believing in yourself, letting go, and not obsessing about details. If you want to make something extraordinary happen, it’s going to require hard work regardless.

The following strategies and tips can help you overcome perfectionism and striving for progress and excellence instead:

1. Make mistakes intentionally.

It’s ok to make mistakes. And if you’ve never done any, now it’s time to start.

Make a few mistakes intentionally so you’ll get used to making them. Choose something that doesn’t matter and knowingly allow yourself to make a mistake so you can practice.

Then, when it comes to something that does matter – try your best to avoid mistakes – of course – but if a mistake happens, you won’t be as overwhelmed with it because you know it’s not the end of the world.

Mistakes happen. To err is human. The only thing that matters is how you deal with them when they happen. And you can always learn from mistakes. And how can we learn and grow if all we do is stay in the same place? Learn from your mistakes, take responsibility for what happened, and move on!

2. Be mindful about your self-talk.

What are you saying to yourself? How do you talk about your work and accomplishments with others? How often do you compare what’s in front of you with other people’s work or experience? How many times does a day do those thoughts cross your mind, negatively impacting how much confidence and motivation for the next step that lies ahead.

The key to stopping the cycle of perfectionism is to stop feeding it with thoughts that create more anxiety. Be nice to yourself. Talk to yourself as you would be your own best friend. Be encouraging. Be inspirational. Heck, be critical even… but always do it constructively so that you can improve instead of beat yourself up.

3. Change your standards.

You don’t have to achieve perfection before moving onto something new but instead look for progress, growth, and improvement. Remember that the next step on the ladder to reach your goal can be just as important as the first step, so enjoy each one along the way!

And if you’re feeling really anxious but don’t know why, then ask yourself these questions: How does this make me feel? How do I want to feel? How can I change that?

Doing things differently and changing your standards is a process of self-discovery. It might create some anxiety at first—after all, it’s a new way of doing things! But as you figure out what works best for you and stop comparing yourself to others, this process will be much more rewarding.

Focus on progress not perfection - Bill Phillips - Perfectionism Quotes

4. Focus on progress, not perfection

Take small steps toward reaching your goals and reward yourself for anything that helps move you closer to success. Be sure not to give everything up just because an outcome isn’t perfect, but instead, keep in mind how much you’ve grown.

If you don’t accomplish your desired outcome, it’s just a new opportunity to improve yourself and make adjustments.

It’s all about the journey towards success, not being perfect at getting there.

You might feel frustrated by setbacks sometimes, but this is normal – what matters most is that you’re learning from these mistakes and continuing on your journey.

The most rewarding thing about progress is that you can always see it, feel it, and know when you’re moving closer to your goal.

And if what you’ve done helps someone else in some way, then congratulate yourself for doing something great!

So remember:

  • Focus on the process, not just the end result.
  • Celebrate small victories.
  • Don’t give up when something doesn’t go your way.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to strive for progress, not perfection – 7 simple strategies

5. Find inspiration

Instead of comparing your work to someone else’s, focus on people who have already done something amazing and use them as an example of what you can do if you just set aside any doubts about yourself and start doing it.

Read inspirational quotes. Watch motivational Ted Talks. Find people who are doing what you want to be and study them for strategies to help you on your own journey.

RELATED ARTICLE: 39 inspirational quotes about overcoming perfectionism

Whether you think you can or you can't - you are right - Henry Ford - Perfectionism Quotes

6. Focus on your dream and the “big picture”.

The first step to creating something new and awesome is figuring out what your ultimate goal should be. And define what that amazing outcome really looks like for you.

This may seem like a simple question, but it’s essential to think about this before starting.

Otherwise, there will always be one more thing you could do or make better, leading some people into never finishing anything at all.

To set yourself up for success, you must establish realistic goals early on in the process. This will ensure an enjoyable and fulfilling experience as your dreams unfold into reality!

Setting achievable goals now ensure a rewarding journey with every step along the way – even if they are small steps towards larger ones!

When you’re trying to overcome perfectionism and stop striving for this unattainable ideal, keep your vision of the outcome clearly in mind. And once you’ve settled on what success looks like to you – it’s time to start making progress towards attaining it. You can do anything step-by-step!

RELATED ARTICLE: 10-step method to set attainable goals

7. Keep in mind that your work will never be perfect.

There is a difference between making something perfect and crafting your best work. When you feel like the final product should be done, remind yourself that even when it’s not finished, there are ways to improve on what has been created so far.

So strive for excellence, not perfection. Or follow James Cameron’s words: “People call me a perfectionist, but I’m not. I’m a rightist. I do something until it’s right, and then I move on to the next thing.”

The strategies in this post can help you think about how to pursue progress rather than getting caught up in details so that next time around, when facing an obstacle or challenge, your response will be, ‘I have this handled! How could I not? I’ve done it a million times before.’

So when you need to overcome perfectionism, remember that excellence is striving for the best you can be and making a commitment to get better with each task.

And if you need some inspiration to overcome perfectionism, check out these 39 inspirational perfectionism quotes.

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How to overcome perfectionism

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