Table of Contents
7 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist Introduction
Are you a perfectionist? Do you have insanely high standards that you are spending your life trying to reach and failing miserably? Are you feeling burnt out trying to reach those standards? Do your relationships suffer because of your perfectionism?
If you answered yes to these questions, you are a perfectionist. Which is dangerous to your mental health and wellbeing. It can cause depression, anxiety, and even lead to eating disorders.
Here’s the thing. Nobody in the world is perfect, including you, including me, and including anyone else who looks like they have it all together. Nobody does. One of my favorite quotes is, “we are all being judged by someone who isn’t even close to having their shit together.” Because it is so true.
Here are my favorite 7 ways to stop being a perfectionist.
Traits of a Perfectionist
- Setting unattainable goals.
- Obsessive thinking and reassurance-seeking.
- Over Identification with achievements.
10 Ways Perfectionists Self-Sabotage
- Overwork and can’t relax until everything is done.
- Criticize themselves for even the smallest mistakes.
- Think in absolutes (all or nothing, black and white)
- Stress themselves and others with unrealistic expectations.
- Don’t ask for or accept help.
- Afraid of trying new things.
- Overthink things.
- Waste time re-doing or perfecting unimportant tasks.
- Notice what everyone is doing wrong.
7 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist
Appreciate the Process
It isn’t just about the end result. Divide your attention between both the journey and the end result, and appreciate both aspects.
Part of life is the journey, not just the destination. Take the time to really enjoy the journey and learn from that, not just focus on the destination. When you ignore the journey, you are missing out on so many things. You owe it to yourself to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Think about going on a drive. My favorite is going up to a huge waterfall about forty five minutes outside of town. The drive and views of the river that this waterfall feeds are simply gorgeous. If you think about the end destination, you’ll miss out on the beauty of the drive. There is so much more to see than the end destination. Pay attention to the views during the drive.
Stop Comparing Yourself
Take the power away from everyone else and give it back to yourself! Create your own version of perfection, and strive for that.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Your journey is yours, and yours alone. Your journey doesn’t look like mine, or anyone else’s for that matter. The only person you should be competing with in life is yourself, and the only reason to compete with yourself is to keep improving. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s and try to compete with them.
Mess Up on Purpose
Being a perfectionist, you always worry about messing things up and failing miserably to reach your perfect standards. Try the opposite.
Once you’ve done this, stop and take a look around. What actually happened? Did your worst fear come true? Did anything happen? Was it a positive experience you learned from? Oftentimes we think the worst will happen when we mess up. Stop and put the experience in perspective by seeing what actually happens versus what you expect to happen.
I will tell you that when I’m developing a new recipe, I screw it up often. This used to bug me, because I expected to develop the perfect recipe the first time every time. Once I let go of that need to be perfect and instead decided to just keep working at it, developing recipes with my husband became a lot more fun. It really changed how I view this specific blog and the work I put into it. Now I don’t care if I have to make a recipe seven different times to be what I deem perfect.
Play It Out
Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? If your kitchen isn’t spotless, for example, what is actually going to happen? Is the world going to end? Will your husband disown you because of it? Will your friends never stop by to visit again? What will actually happen?
Focus on the reality of what the worst that can actually happen is. Not just what you imagine that is based on your insanely high standards.
Become Friends with Good Enough
There are some days that good enough really is enough. In fact, it is plenty. Think about this: the kitchen may be dirty, but the kids and the dog are all fed with a nutritious meal, and the house didn’t burn down, and you spent time with your family. Some days, that is good enough, and that is perfect.
Oftentimes it is easy to push aside time with the people we love because we are busy trying to live up to our own impossible standards. Time spent with family is far more important than the constant appearance of a spotless kitchen!
When you can become friends with good enough, I promise that you’ll notice that good enough really is plenty, because your mindset starts to shift away from useless things to the real and truly important things in life.
Is what you’re beating yourself up about right now going to matter tomorrow? Next month? Next year? Five years from now? Be honest with yourself.
I would guess that the answer is likely a definite no here. Stop and think about what actually matters and what does not matter. Write it down and make a list if it helps. When you write out a list, you can easily see the answers in black and white, and gain a new perspective.
Create Realistic Goals and Expectations
Create your own definition of perfection, one that you can actually strive for AND reach. The biggest problem with being a perfectionist is that it is impossible to reach your goals. You can’t celebrate accomplishing anything because it isn’t an attainable goal.
You deserve to celebrate your accomplishments every single day of your life! Yes, you. You deserve that!
It is perfectly okay to have big goals. Pick one big goal for yourself. What is that? Now that you have that, break that down into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals for yourself that you absolutely can accomplish. If you can’t accomplish it without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you haven’t broken your goal down into manageable steps yet, and it is time to reevaluate.
It is always wonderful to have a big picture or goals. There is nothing wrong with that. But what perfectionists tend to forget is that the big picture is a series of smaller pictures that make up the big picture. Make sure your small pictures are vivid and bright, so they can create an amazing big picture.
7 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist Notes
Here’s the problem with being a perfectionist. It is both overwhelming and exhausting. Seriously, when you take these steps to stop this behavior and way of thinking, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to make it as long as you did before taking control of your life.
Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. You’re not getting out of it alive anyway. Why waste so much time striving for perfection when perfection is literally impossible? You lose out on so many joyful moments and learning experiences when you’re so busy beating yourself up over unrealistic goals you can’t achieve. Slow down and enjoy the journey.
I realize this is all much easier said than done! Trust me, I know, because I was once a perfectionist. Changing that way of thinking isn’t easy. But it is absolutely worth doing! Because you’ll find that you have so much more energy for the people and things that really do matter in your life, and things become a lot easier when there is less anxiety.
I personally found that my relationships were a lot easier when I wasn’t a perfectionist, because I wasn’t busy criticizing myself or the other person, and I wasn’t overthinking the smallest things. It became a lot easier to really enjoy and appreciate those relationships. I also wasn’t adding extra stress to those around me.
If you are a perfectionist and taking the steps toward working on shifting that mindset, first off, congrats! I hope these 7 ways to stop being a perfectionist are helping you. You should be proud of yourself for that alone. Also be kind and patient with yourself as you work toward setting realistic goals for yourself and shifting that mindset from perfect to realistic. It isn’t an overnight process, but that certainly doesn’t mean it is impossible either. Keep pushing forward, even when you have setbacks, and be mindful of when those old habits start to set in again. Old habits die hard, and I understand that.
It really does take a lot of patience and loving yourself for this to become your new normal. You can do it, trust me though. Because you owe it to yourself! I found that this shift toward abandoning my perfectionist mindset was a form of self-care. Because I wanted to take care of myself and live a healthy and happy life.
7 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist Discussion
Are you a perfectionist working toward shifting your mindset? Have these 7 ways to stop being a perfectionist helped you in any way? Are there specific areas on this list that you need to focus more on? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!