3 Tips on how to Overcome Perfectionism (Practical)

This post will provide 3 practical tips on how to overcome perfectionism.

Chances are, if you google “how to overcome perfectionism”, you will be met with these numerous search queries on how to beat, counter or break perfectionism.

So, it shows that people are looking for practical tips or ideas that they can possibly reflect on.

It doesn’t have to be that they are looking for an immediate solution, but just information to send them in the right direction or shift their approach.

What is perfectionism?

Pursuit of perfection

Okay, so before I provide the 3 tips, we need to find out precisely what perfectionism is!

According to Psychology Today, it states as follows:

Perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.

What makes extreme perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, resulting in a negative orientation. They don’t believe in unconditional love, expecting others’ affection and approval to be dependent on a flawless performance.

I highlighted two words in their description that were spot on! The fact that perfectionism can make life an endless report card.

Pause and think about that- an endless report card!

That tells me that perfectionism sets an unattainable standard. The endless checklist can be exhausting.

It can set you up for failure, and you may not even start a project as you deem the task intimidating and paralyzing due to the nature of the unachievable standard.

Question: Is there healthy perfectionism?

This is a question that people often wonder about. According to the Harvard Business Review, Psychologist Jeff Szymanski states that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy perfectionism. He says the following:

Unhealthy perfectionism can be a hindrance. Healthy perfectionism, by comparison, can pay off for you and your business. 

However, Brene Brown states the following:

Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.

If I were to put my two cents, I would say that there is nothing like healthy perfectionism. I agree with Brene Brown’s take and approach on this.

Also, I honestly think that “healthy perfectionism” can be a slippery slope to unhealthy perfectionism.

Genesis…So how did we get here?

Of course, it’s hard to pinpoint how this has permeated our culture.

However, I think society has set a standard and glamorized the pursuit of perfection. Magazines and social media set the bar so high that people often feel that they aren’t good enough or perfect if they fall short.

Truth- nobody is perfect. But it seems that society set this ridiculous standard, and people adopted it.

What I know for sure:

  1. Chasing perfection is futile.
  2. Chasing perfection can be self-destructive or lead to self-sabotage
  3. Chasing perfection can lead to one being insatiable. They are never satisfied with their progress and never acknowledge the strides or achievements they have made.

Drum roll, please, so here we are….

3 tips on how to overcome perfectionism

1. Adopt a growth mindset

Overcome Perfectionism

A growth mindset means that you are working towards improving yourself. It can be applied to every facet of your life and gradually replace a perfectionist mindset.

With a growth mindset- You give yourself room to improve.

What a growth mindset means is that you are giving yourself room to grow or improve.

That doesn’t mean that you are doing the bare minimum. No! It actually means you are working well to develop yourself, and it’s okay to challenge or review yourself to do better than yesterday.

You can still hit your goals, but the difference between perfectionism and a growth mindset is that a growth mindset is more achievable.

You are basically going off your own baseline as opposed to an unachievable societal standard.

With a growth mindset- You cut yourself some slack.

A growth mindset allows you to make mistakes and be okay with them. You cut yourself some slack, and guess what- that’s okay. Mistakes are normal. When you adopt a growth mindset and allow yourself to make mistakes, you see that as a learning opportunity and not a failure.

2. Spirit of excellence over perfection- Doing the best with what you have!

Counter perfectionism

Another way is replacing excellence with perfection. So what does excellence mean? It is a quality of being outstanding. That means that you are putting your best foot forward. You are doing the best with what you have.

For example, if you have $500, you will make the most of that. That’s what you have right now, and it’s okay. You are staying in your lane.

 Again, if you are pursuing excellence, it’s crucial that you also adopt a growth mindset. They work well together. Excellence doesn’t mean doing a mediocre job just because you are in an entry-level position.

It means doing your best every day with whatever you have, no matter how small. It also means being honest about your current challenges and abilities not to spread yourself too thin or suffer burnout.

3. Bite-size chunks

Back to what I had stated earlier, the unreasonable perfectionism standards cause people to get frustrated. This is because, often, lofty goals have been set that aren’t attainable.

One way to combat this is to set reasonable goals in “bite-size chunks.” This is another way to overcome perfectionism.

This is super important because it can also lead to self-efficacy, which is your confidence in your ability or can-do attitude. When you meet that goal, you have greater confidence that you can continue to meet the rest, and guess what, it will compound over time!

Attach a project with smaller goals that compound to larger ones. That’s it, folks! 3 practical ideas on how to overcome perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism: Key Takeaways

In conclusion, I think perfectionism, as stated earlier, has the potential of leading one to a fast track of unhappiness. It’s better to pursue excellence or, as Brene Brown puts it: “Healthy Striving.”

Once you do this, life can be fun since you aren’t in a perfectionist rat race. You are present and making great strides, and you are enjoying the growth process…You are overcoming perfectionism!

Beat perfectionism

Heather Chesiyna

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