It is a good thing to have high standards and want to excel on a high level. Pushing yourself to be the best you can be is admirable and something you should aim for. The problem occurs when standards are so high and so unrealistic that it’s almost impossible to achieve them. Perfectionists have these types of goals and standards and when expectations aren’t achieved, can cause all kinds of issues. From feelings of insecurity, guilt, shame, anger, and more. If you are a perfectionist, here are 7 things you should know to overcome perfectionism.
How To Overcome Perfectionism
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1. Develop an Iteration Mentality To Overcome Perfectionism
Most perfectionists feel as though something has to be “just right” coming out of the gate. That in order for them to take action, the stars must be aligned. That they must know everything before they get started. This type of perfectionistic thinking ends up causing procrastination or worse, inaction because nothing will ever be perfect at first. I know so many people who have been saying they were going to start a business for years but haven’t because they are still getting things together. I also know people who’ve been wanting to publish a book but it’s been sitting on their desk or in their minds collecting dust because it’s just not perfect yet. To get beyond this, and overcome perfectionism, you must develop an iteration mentality.
What do I mean by iteration mentality? The term iteration actually comes from information technology and refers to a new version of software or hardware. When Facebook first came out, the website was buggy and clunky. When the iPhone came out, it often froze and had to be rebooted because of memory issues. As time when on, however, each update or iteration made things a little bit better. Think of yourself and the things you do in the same way. It may not be perfect right now. You may not be perfect right now, but work to make things better one iteration at a time. Put yourself out there, take action, and keep working to make things more perfect as you go. It doesn’t have to be “just right” out of the gate.
2. Overcome Perfectionism by Focusing on Small Steps
I want you to shoot for the stars, but do not try to go straight there. I want you to dream the biggest dreams possible, but do not forget your reality. Sometimes we get so focused on reaching our vision of “perfection” and so focused on the big goal that we fail to take the small steps necessary to get there. Keep your main goal in your mind, but give your next step your full attention and focus. When we obsess about the end goal, it reminds us of the gap between there and where we are now. This can keep us discouraged even when we do make progress. By setting and reaching smaller goals on your way to the big goals, you stay motivated and feel accomplished along the way.
3. Love the Process
Overcome perfectionism by learning to love the process. Like I mentioned in the previous section, perfectionists focus too much on the end goal and the results. When your focus is solely on the results instead of the process it’s easy to sputter out, give up, and never get closer to your idea of perfection. If you want to be in great shape, learn to love the process. If you want to be a great writer, learn to love the process. A few great ways to do this is to make sure your goal excites you and that you really want it, develop daily habits to follow, and associate with others who have the same goals.
4. Challenge Your Perfectionistic Thoughts
Your thoughts can be one of your biggest obstacles to overcome perfectionism. Thoughts can tell us, “you aren’t doing it right,” “you aren’t good enough,” “this is crap.” It’s hard to overcome negative voices like these especially if they are coming from your own head. Usually, we take these thoughts as truth. We must start challenging these thoughts if we want any hope of overcoming perfectionism. When you catch yourself thinking these things, say aloud or in your head positive, affirming statements. You could say or think, “It may not be perfect now, but it will get better.” Or, “I am good enough,” “I am doing the best that I can.” Have a list of positive sayings or affirmations handy to repeat whenever these negative thoughts pop into your mind.
Here are a few more examples:
- “Everything I need to succeed is within me.”
- “I recognize my imperfections and accept them fully.”
- “I am confident that I can achieve anything.”
5. Fail On Purpose
Failing is scary, especially for perfectionists. The idea of falling flat or looking like a fool is unfathomable. This is why so many are plagued with perfectionism. They fear the idea of being a failure. The best way to get over this fear is to fail on purpose. I know what your thinking, “Why in the world would I want to fail, especially on purpose?!” Answer: because that is one of the fastest ways to overcome perfectionism. The more you fail, the more you get used to it. When you fail, the more you learn. The more you fail, the more you’ll understand that failure does not mean you are flawed as a human being. It means you have the opportunity to get better and be better. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed more times than others. The reason they are where they are today and seem so perfect is that they were able to learn and grow with each failure.
To fail on purpose, do things where the odds are stacked against you but gives you an opportunity to learn. Join an art contest even though you have no idea how to draw. Audition for a play even though you have absolutely no training in acting. Yes, this will be scary, and you will surely lose, but that is the point. Get used to failing and you won’t be afraid of not being so perfect.
6. Learn to Love and Accept Yourself to Overcome Perfectionism
Being a perfectionist usually means that your self-love, self-esteem, and self-worth are lacking. Yes, there are some things you may have to work on, but you are amazing just the way you are. We focus too much on our flaws and not enough on our strengths. Start taking time each day being okay with who you are and where you are in life. Be kind to yourself even though you are not perfect. Accept yourself, even though you have made some mistakes. Love yourself even when you fail.
7. Start Small
Overcoming perfectionism won’t happen overnight. Start small at letting things be imperfect. If you are in the middle of a task, and it’s not completely perfect yet, just stop. Stop and let it go instead of sticking with it until it’s just right. This may be hard but do it anyway. Leave it alone for a time, then come back to it later. If someone else does something that is not right and you have a tendency to go back over their work until it’s perfect, let it go. Just let it be. You do not have to do this for all things right away, but start small at letting things be.
Continue to have high standards but do not let your expectations become unrealistic and too high to achieve. Overcome perfectionism by developing an iteration mentality, focusing on small steps, and learn to love the process. You can also challenge your perfectionistic thoughts, fail on purpose, love yourself, and start small.
How can putting your perfectionistic ways behind you benefit your life? Let us know in the comments below.