Perfectionism means that you hold yourself to a standard of perfect (whatever “perfect” means to you). Anything short of perfect is unacceptable.
If you’re a high achiever like me, then being a perfectionist is probably something you’ve dealt with all your life. Yet, they’re not the same thing.
A high achiever is someone who accomplishes a lot, is very goal-oriented, and is ambitious.
A perfectionist may be a high achiever (as someone who is very goal-oriented and ambitious) but instead of solely focusing on results, she struggles with her relationship with herself, which results in being fear-driven, overworking, and self-critical.
Because of the inner struggle the perfectionist faces, perfectionism can often lead to anxiety, depression, and anger.
Overcoming perfectionism is necessary to free yourself from being driven by fear. When you overcome perfectionism, you’ll enjoy your life more, having less anxiety, and truly live life more authentically.
The truth is, it’s possible to strive for excellence without fear of failure.
Here’s how to overcome your perfectionism.
- Related: Finding Your Purpose (podcast)
How To Overcome Perfectionism
I think the biggest misconception about perfectionism is what it is.
People who act with perfectionistic tendencies typically don’t know it—and if they do, it’s on a very surface level where they don’t see the harm it’s causing to their lives, nor how to solve the problem.
In the tips below you’ll learn how to recognize perfectionism, stop it, and how much better your life will be without it.
Tip 1: Become aware of your tendencies
You must become aware of your perfectionistic tendencies.
If not, your mental health will suffer. You’ll be constantly led by fear, worried, coping with anxiety, and really just busy-ing around from one task to the next, wondering what more to life there is.
So, how do you do this? I’m so glad you asked!
Here are red flags to pay attention to that may indicate you’re a perfectionist:
- You’re motivated by fear.
- You have critical thoughts about yourself more often than not (even hyper-critical).
- You can’t handle failure and make it mean something about you as a person.
- You think you’re “not good enough” if you don’t have a set goal you’re working toward.
- You have low self-confidence.
- You beat yourself up often and have no room for mistakes.
- You get depressed if you don’t achieve your goals.
- You don’t recognize when you do good work.
These are the biggest tell tail signs of perfectionism.
Is this you? If so, keep on reading, and I’ll give you a few ways to help solve this.
Tip 2: Identify the emotion driving you
Think about the main emotion you feel in your body when you take action.
Is it determination?
Is it fun?
Is it excitement?
Or is is fear? Doubt? Or Scarcity?
If you’re not sure how to distinguish between these emotions, notice if your body feels open or closed.
Closed emotions are negative, like fear and worry. If you feel really closed when you take action, you may be acting from fear.
In fact, acting from fear is one of the most obvious signs to show you you’re acting out of perfectionism.
Start to pay attention more to this emotion driving you. Just this awareness alone can help you spark change.
- How To Stop Comparing Yourself With Others (blog post)
- Processing Negative Emotions (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Tip 3: Create supportive thoughts
Your thoughts create your feelings, so if you’re thinking thoughts that create fear, the key is to 1) identify those thoughts and feeling, and 2) change them.
To truly change your perfectionist thoughts you’ll need much more than this paragraph, but you can do something to get started—you can decide to choose your thoughts deliberately.
So, ask yourself this: what do I need to be thinking to feel a better emotion to motivate me to take action?
For example, if you want to feel determined, you may want to think thoughts like…
- I have my own back no matter what.
- Failure is part of the process.
- I can do hard things.
Thought creation is something that takes practice (we do this inside Grow You), but for now, just know that you 100% can choose your own thoughts, so starting right now is one small step in the right direction toward ridding yourself of being a perfectionist.
- How To Stop Self Sabotaging Thoughts (blog post)
- Believing New Thoughts (podcast)
- Overcoming Self Doubt (free course)
Tip 4: Accept failure without making it mean anything about you
The fear of failure stops more dreams than failure ever will.
You have to become a master of your fear. The emotion itself is not a problem; the problem is what you make it mean.
Failure means nothing about you. Not-a-thing.
Yet, your brain (as a perfectionist) thinks otherwise.
So, you have to start to train your brain to believe new thoughts that support the idea that failure is part of the process and a good thing.
In fact, I’ve failed repeatedly in my personal life and in my professional life—everything from dating to failing tests.
Every failure teaches me so much more than any success ever could. There are also lessons in failure. Often the best lessons.
So reframing failure is how you’ll start to accept it. In addition, seeing it as necessary to living extraordinarily—that’s the key.
- How To Make Your Dreams Come True (blog post)
- Failure And Rejection (podcast)
- Weekly Inspirational Email (free weekly email)
Tip 5: Increase your self confidence
When you have a high levels of self confidence, you accept yourself for all the good and the bad.
You know you’re not perfect, so you’re willing to fail forward, make mistakes, and create your dream life, one stumble at a time.
The best news: you’re not just born with self confidence or not. It’s also not that some people have it and some don’t. Instead, you can create more self confidence.
When you increase your self confidence, you end up dropping the fear-based, scarcity mindset that you carry as a perfectionist, and instead see the enjoyment of life.
Join my Week Of Self Confidence FREE Course here to start increasing your self confidence today.
Tip 6: Listen to “positive input”
Perfectionists don’t know that perfect isn’t good. They think that perfect is the goal.
It’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
So, I suggest more positive input in the form of podcasts that will help you shift your mindset.
One episode every day can fill your mind with new ideas and perspectives, which is how you’ll solve the root cause of perfectionism (your thinking).
Tip 7: Get a life coach
Having a good life coach who can show you your mind is the best way to overcome your perfectionism the fastest.
I like to think of therapy as diagnostic and helping you get from “dysfunctional to functional” (for example, I went to a therapist after a really bad breakup and she was incredibly helpful for getting me back to a functional place).
Life coaching is what takes you from “functional to exceptional.” It’s where you can have a coach show you your mindset and how perfectionism is affecting your life. In addition, a life coach will teach you strategies for coping with all your emotions (the good and the bad).
This is what I do in Grow You with my clients—I show you how coping with perfectionism can be manageable with the right tools and approach.
- What Is The Role Of A Life Coach (blog post)
- Why Everyone Needs A Life Coach (podcast)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Self Discovery (freebie)
A Final Note!
If you feel the pressure to be perfect on a regular basis, where you’re unable to take constructive criticism without falling apart, know that you don’t have to live this way.
In fact, you can learn how to overcome your perfectionism and have a heck of a lot more fun in your every day life.