6 Practical Ways to Overcome Perfectionism

“Perfectionism rarely begets perfection, or satisfaction – only disappointment.” – Ryan Holiday 

Are you the type of person that always expects perfection from yourself or others? Do you believe you shouldn’t make mistakes, or that unless things go perfect they aren’t worth doing? 

If you find yourself constantly striving for perfection, you’re not alone. Perfectionism is a common issue that many people face, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it drives us to strive for excellence and achieve our goals. On the other hand, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and an endless cycle of self-criticism.

If perfectionism is negatively effecting your life and getting in the way of making progress, there are ways to create a healthier, more balanced approach to life. This article will share six practical tips for letting go of perfectionist tendencies, so you can enjoy life and appreciate yourself more.

1. Start with small steps

It’s important to recognize that overcoming perfectionism won’t happen overnight. Take small steps to get there. For instance, if you’re a writer, try setting a goal to write a paragraph without worrying about editing it. Or if you’re a cook, aim to make a dish without measuring every ingredient to the gram. Celebrate the small victories as you practice making mistakes.

2. Seek out imperfection

Since perfect doesn’t exist, it’s in our best interest to try to embrace imperfection. Seek out opportunities to try something new, even if you’re not sure you’ll excel at it. Take up a new hobby, such as painting or gardening, and accept that you’ll make mistakes and need to learn as you go.

3. Focus on progress, not perfection

Rather than focusing on the end result, focus on progress. Recognize that every step forward is a micro-success. If you’re a runner, celebrate the fact that you ran further today than you did yesterday. If you’re a musician, acknowledge that you’re getting better at playing that difficult piece, even if you mess up along the way.

4. Embrace your mistakes

Mistakes happen and are ultimately a necessary part of growth and development. Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. If you make a mistake at work, for instance, take the time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can avoid it in the future. Remember that perfectionism can lead to stagnation and an avoidance of making mistakes, which inevitably can interfere with progress. Get more comfortable making mistakes. 

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

5. Practice self-compassion

It’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we don’t meet our own expectations. However, if you’re a perfectionist, you likely have unrealistic expectations and are critical of yourself when you fall short. Practicing self-compassion means treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you’d offer to a friend. Recognize that you’re doing the best you can, and that criticizing yourself doesn’t help. Acknowledge the shared humanity that everyone makes mistakes and move on.

6. Celebrate your successes

Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Take the time to acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments. Focus on what you did get done and what went well. Create more moments and opportunities for self-encouragement. Celebrate with a friend, treat yourself to a nice dinner, or simply take a moment to bask in your success.

“Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.” – Amit Ray

Overcoming perfectionism is not an easy feat, but it’s definitely worth it. By letting go of the need to be perfect, you can experience a greater sense of freedom, joy, and self-acceptance. Remember that perfectionism is not a personality trait or a permanent state of being, it’s a habit that can be broken with awareness, practice, and patience.

So, be kind to yourself, embrace imperfection, and celebrate progress along the way. By doing so, you’ll find that life becomes a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling. Remember, life is imperfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful.

Photo by Alice Dietrich on Unsplash