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Are you a perfectionist?  Perfectionism can stop you taking action, leave you with piles of unfinished projects and lower your confidence and self-esteem. In this article I’m going to talk about what a perfectionist is and how you can 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 share 5 tips on how to start overcoming perfectionism.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is striving to create something in the future that is perfect or flawless.  Perfectionism is created out of a vision in someone’s mind of an ideal, but an ideal is not real.  Perfectionists are focused on making things perfect.  When they create something that doesn’t achieve that view of perfection they are self-critical, lose self-confidence and find it hard to acknowledge praise or celebrate progress. 

Perfectionism can be developed through a number of different routes.  Being told we are not good enough makes us continually strive for a higher performance.

Comparing ourselves, our ability and our status in life can create a scarcity mindset that we are not good enough. Feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and being self-critical are common traits of perfectionists.

Perfectionist meaning

Perfectionists want everything to be perfect and are striving for an impossible ideal that simply can’t be reached.  Perfectionists are overly critical of themselves because they haven’t reached the impossible ideal they set for themselves.

You probably know if you are a perfectionist or not. 

Examples of perfectionist behaviour include making demands on yourself that are impossible to achieve, constant changing and perfecting of things until deemed perfect.

Perfectionists also have to ensure everything is just so and in the right place and always being over organised to cover any single eventuality.

Perfectionists are often driven by a too perfect vision of something important they want to achieve in the future or by a fear of failure. 

Many perfectionists are trying to create something perfect to live up to their own expectations and those of others.

Habits of perfectionism

Perfectionists want to make everything perfect so they tend to procrastinate on on starting important projects or taking action to achieve their.  Getting ready to get ready is a major problem for perfectionists. 

They 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 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 avoidance, being self-critical and self-doubt.

Perfectionist weakness

Perfectionism has many downsides.  Much of perfectionism has to do with a future ideal we’ve created in our own mind about the importance of a specific project, goal, outcome or idea.

If we have made up a story of how important something is we can strive and strive until it is absolutely perfect.

The thing is, nothing is ever perfect.  One other reasons for perfectionism is that we build up a mindset that nothing is ever good enough.

We feel things could always be a little bit better.  This causes us to be self-critical.

Overcoming perfectionism: 5 simple ways 

If you’re a perfectionist and you want to start overcoming perfectionism these 5 simple tips will help you start taking action on your most important goals. 

1. Create an abundance mindset 

If you want to stop being a perfectionist it’s time to reframe how you approach your projects and goals.

Rather than having an ideal picture focus, instead focus on the value your idea or project can provide in the marketplace and to the people who matter most.

Start leading and being in motion.

Focus on speed of implementation, rather than polishing and perfecting.

Focus on abundance and not scarcity.

Get clarity on what the project is, how important it is, and what action steps needs to be taken.

Then take the first step to move forward. 

You don’t build a great reputation by talking about what you’re going to do.

Instead, take the time to think about the project, work on it and get it out there.

When you’re committed to completion and in motion you can start creating what really matters.

Think if all the value you can create in the world simply by finishing the project you started.

2. Narrow your focus

You must be fully committed and emotionally engaged in the project you’re working on.

If you are not committed and 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 get stressed and burned out.

It’s better to focus on that one project that matters now and see it through to completion.

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

Manage your perfectionism  

A lot of the time when something’s not perfect, not exactly how we want it, we put it aside and work on something else that may be more fascinating.

But we lose focus, and when we try to do too much we magnify the things that aren’t working, become self-critical and fail to follow through.

Your project may not be grammatically perfect, but good enough can be better than perfect, especially if you have too many other things to worry about.

3. Don’t confuse 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. 

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