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Perfectionism can stop you taking action, leave you with piles of unfinished projects and lower your confidence and self-esteem. If you’re a perfectionist, this article shares 5 tips on how to overcome perfectionism using proven strategies. 

For many perfectionists, they would rather polish, update, get distracted and move onto something else rather than putting something out into the world that isn’t perfect. This burden of perfectionism leads to stress and overwhelm.

This perfectionist mindset holds many people back because of their inability to start something until they are ready or have the capabilities to take action. 

Perfectionism holds people back because of fear of disapproval, feelings of insecurity, feelings of inadequacy or having their self-worth and self-esteem tied up to achieving something perfect.

The things is, there is no such things as perfection.  If you’re a perfectionist, this article will give you five actionable strategies to help you get rid of perfectionism.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is defined as the need to achieve an ideal that doesn’t exist or the need to feel or appear to be perfect.   Perfectionism is created out of a vision in someone’s mind of what perfection looks like.  Perfectionists are often fearful, feel inadequate and are more critical of themselves than others.  When perfectionists create something that doesn’t achieve that view of perfection they are self-critical and find it hard to acknowledge praise or celebrate progress. 

Perfectionism can be developed through a number of different habits.  Perfectionists may have been told they weren’t good enough in the past so continually strive for higher performance in the present.

Examples of perfectionistic feelings include insecurity, inadequacy and being self-critical.  Perfectionism can also make you feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful.

What causes perfectionism?

Perfectionism’s cause isn’t always clear,  People with perfectionism want everything to be perfect and constantly strive for an impossible ideal that simply can’t be reached.  People with perfectionism are overly critical of themselves, and often feel inadequate, because they haven’t reached the impossible ideal they set for themselves.

You probably know if you are a perfectionist or not. 

Symptoms of perfectionism 

Perfectionism can make you feel fearful, inadequate and unhappy with your life.  There are a number of common traits of being a perfectionist.  These perfectionistic traits include:

  • Making demands of yourself that are impossible to achieve
  • Constant changing and perfecting of things until deemed perfect
  • Ensuring everything is just so and in the right place
  • Being over organised to cover any single eventuality
  • Having a too perfect vision of something important they want to achieve
  • Wanting to create something perfect to live up to their own expectations and those of others.

Habits of perfectionism

Perfectionists hold themselves to unrealistic high standards that can’t be reached, which often causes overwhelm and procrastination.  Perfectionists want to make everything perfect so they tend to procrastinate on starting important projects or taking the necessary action to achieve their goals. 

People with perfectionism are often getting ready to get ready because they don’t know where to start or what first step to take.   Perfectionists want to learn everything or have the right capabilities before actually getting started. 

Perfectionism can stop your progress from achieving your goals and dreams and impact your happiness, confidence and ability to get anything of importance done.

Many perfectionists create piles of unfinished work.   This unfinished work can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy and dissatisfaction with everything around them.

Perfectionism makes people refuse to decide and commit to anything.   When teamed up with procrastination it can create a double dose of fear, avoidance self-criticism and self-doubt.  Read more on how to stop procrastinating

5 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist 

If you want to get rid of perfectionism, use these 5 simple tips to overcome perfectionism. 

1. Recognise you’re a perfectionist 

The first step to getting rid of perfectionism is to acknowledge that you’re a perfectionist in the first place.  You can do this by reframing how you approach your projects and goals.

Perfectionists create an ideal picture focus in their mind of what the perfect result looks like.  If you want to overcome perfectionism, focus instead on the value your idea or project can provide.

Overcoming perfectionism starts with leading and being in motion, rather than living in fear.  To get into motion, focus on speed of implementation, rather than constantly polishing and perfecting.

Focus on what you’ve actually achieved and the progress you’ve made, rather than feeling inadequate about what you haven’t done. 

You do this by understanding the importance of what you’re doing, and understanding the difference the result will create in your own life and that of others. 

People often procrastinate because they don’t know where to start, or what first step to take.  Once you know the outcome you want to create, jump back to the beginning and lay out one action step or communication you can make.  what the project is,   Then take the first step to move forward. 

We don’t achieve bigger and better goals by talking about what we’re going to do, and then procrastinating on taking the first step. To get rid of perfectionism, take the time to think about the results you want to create and lay out your action plan. 

2. Narrow your focus

Perfectionism often happens when we’re spread too thin.  To overcome perfectionism start narrowing your focus.  Decide on your most important and then become fully committed and emotionally engaged in only those projects.

If you have too many things on your mind and too many smaller projects to complete, your focus will be off.

Being perfect is the enemy of the good, but so is being distracted.

If you have too many other things to worry about, you’ll feel stressed and overwhelmed, which can cause perfectionism to set in.

It’s better to focus on a small number of important projects and see them through to completion.

Then you can turn to the next important project or idea.

3. Stop confusing being perfect with excellence

Anyone that knows me and works with me knows that I’m all about high performance and value creation.

But excellence and high performance are not the same as perfection.

Perfection is simply an unattainable goal, an ideal made up in our minds.

It’s much better and more satisfying to complete a project simply by doing great work.

If you have the mindset that it can’t be good enough and you can never be satisfied you miss out on really contributing to people’s lives, instead of locked in your own mind.

4. Change your mindset from should do to want to

If you live in a world of ‘Should Do’ you may never really be sold on the project and be emotionally engaged enough to complete it in the first place.

However, if you come from a place of ‘Want To’ you have chosen to make this project an area of focus for you.

You will then be far more emotionally engaged to take committed, focused action to complete the project.

Before you start anything, ask yourself “Do I really want to work on this project?”

5. Find collaborators 

One of the biggest challenges for perfectionists is that they think they have to do everything themselves.

This may be because they feel other people won’t meet their expectations or standards so they’re better off doing everything themselves.

This might mean learning a new skill which takes time.

That skill will also have to be developed perfectly.

So, things just stall and don’t move forward.

If you’re a perfectionist focus on finding collaborators to help bring your project or idea to fruition.

Focus on what you do best and then work with other people on everything else.

This could be a team member, outside expert or friend.

The point here is to get the thing you want done finished.

We often can’t do it alone and collaborators will speed up implementation.

Summing Up

Perfectionism crushes your productivity and stops you making progress towards achieving your goals. 

If perfectionism is stopping you from moving forward towards with confidence, use these 5 tips to help you start overcoming perfectionism and get into focused action.

To stop perfectionism, focus on progress not perfection and find collaborators who can get your project finished much quicker and much better than you could on your own.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

Tell me about your experience with perfectionism and procrastination.

How do you manage perfectionism?

Let me know in the comments. 

Read also:

23 important ways to be strong-minded

Overwhelmed at work? 10 strategies to beat stress

How to stop procrastinating: tips for procrastinators 

The productivity guide: my top productivity tips 

8 time management tips to manage time effectively 

About the Author

Mark Pettit is a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results. 

Get more articles, tips and tools to help you simplify your time to multiply your results on the blog.

Sign up to my Time For What Matters newsletter to get the best tips and tools to overcome perfectionism and procrastination.

Grab your free Productivity Mastery Daily Planner to 10x your productivity and achieve your goals quicker.


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Productivity Planner by Mark Pettit of Lucemi Consulting

Free Productivity Makeover Guide and 1-Page Daily Planner.

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Productivity Planner by Mark Pettit of Lucemi Consulting

Grab your free 1-Page Productivity Planner

  

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Have a productive, focused and satisfying day, every day, by filling out this 1 Page Productivity Planner every morning. 

 

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