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6 Strategies for Overcoming Perfectionism

Perfectionists strive to be the best at everything they do, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many perfectionists excel in their fields. But that doesn’t mean that this personality trait isn’t without its downsides. When a minor setback feels like a major personal failure, that’s when perfectionism becomes a burden.

Perfectionists may hold themselves or others to standards they know are unrealistic. If your perfectionism interferes with your ability to form or maintain relationships, make progress in a hobby or project or even get started with anything new, there are steps you can take to break free.

Another way to look at it is, could perfectionism just be a bad habit? Or a negative belief (usually “I’m not good enough”) . If so, you're in the right place, hypnosis and coaching are highly effective tools for clearing these unhelpful beliefs and changing those bad habit for good, helpful habits.

Perfectionism vs. Aspiring to Greatness

There is no work of art in any museum that’s perfect. Every famous painting has plenty of blemishes that only a trained eye can spot.

The Mona Lisa is a great work of art, but if you look at it with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, you’ll find that the painting is made up of over 40 layers of paint. Had Da Vinci gone much further beyond the 40th coat, he could have lost the subtlety of human expression his paintings are known for.

Perfectionists tend to hyper-focus on even the tiniest flaws. If you focus on the things you’re unable to do perfectly, you may end up doing nothing at all. You’ll procrastinate so much that the final product will be sub-par.

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably find that it’s a challenging way to live. In most cases, it’s a road to disappointment and dissatisfaction. It can also have a negative effect on the relationships in your life. It can also lead to procrastination - more about that in another blog!

When you’re a perfectionist, it seems like nothing can ever be as perfect as you’d like. Perfectionism consists of demanding a higher level of performance than the situation dictates. The key to excellence is finding an optimum performance level to achieve good results.

Do you see how perfectionism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

So what are some of the symptoms of perfectionism? There are many, this list is just a few examples!

  • Procrastination

  • Discouragement – my ideas are already taken/I can’t do this as well as so-and-so

  • Overwhelm – too much to do or not knowing where to start

  • Suffering from “one-more-training-itis” – "I just need to do this next course, then I’ll be ready"

  • Fear of Failure - what if I muck up. What if I’m not ready?

  • Needing to be all “fixed” – "As soon as I’ve overcome all my own personal challenges, then I’ll, be ready to help others".

  • Lack of Clarity – I know where I want to go, sort of, but have no idea how to get there.

So what can you do?

Implement these 6 strategies and overcome your obsession with being perfect:

  1. Give yourself (and others) a break – Eliminating the urge to have everything be perfect takes time. It’s important to start slowly and congratulate yourself for each victory, even the small ones. Set reasonable goals and reward your accomplishments.

  2. Learn how to see all the variations. Just because something is less than 100% doesn’t mean it equals zero. That’s an overly simplified way of dealing with the world. Avoid viewing everything as all-or-nothing. The subtleties of life hold most of the beauty of the world. Open your eyes and consider everything. Learn to understand when something is good enough and then move on to the next thing. Spending more time or effort than necessary is far from being perfect. If you think about it, perfectionism is actually a way of being excessive and inefficient!

  3. Avoid over-emphasizing negative results or feedback - View these situations as anomalies, rather than evidence of anything else. Avoid giving negative results more relevance than they deserve.

  4. Develop your sense of humor. With a good sense of humor, you can shift your perspective quickly and easily. This makes it easier to deal with those situations that turn out less than perfect.

  5. Realize that most mistakes aren’t fatal. Nearly any mistake can be rectified. When things go in an unplanned direction, go with the flow. This can be challenging for a perfectionist. Avoid letting your emotions lead you to a negative, unproductive state. Instead, be proactive and start coming up with solutions that will still take you to your goal. They may include a temporary detour, or take longer than originally planned, but the end result will be satisfactory.

  6. Avert the urge to use perfectionism as a way to procrastinate. Some perfectionists avoid beginning a task that’s less than desirable. Getting started and making a few mistakes is more preferable than doing nothing at all or getting started too late.

Perfectionism can negatively impact your life because it’s an ineffective and unenjoyable way to live. Learn to let go of your need to be perfect. You’ll be more pleased with your life and feel much happier. Your loved ones will be happier, too! These tips can get you off to a great start and help free you from perfectionism!

Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable. Instead, aspire to greatness.

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