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How to Stop Being a Perfectionist

Perfectionism can hurt your productivity, cause your business to falter, and make you completely stressed out. It can even damage your health over the long run. Unfortunately, perfectionism is a trap that…

Estimated Read Time:  4 minutes


Perfectionism can hurt your productivity, cause your business to falter, and make you completely stressed out. It can even damage your health over the long run. Unfortunately, perfectionism is a trap that many people fall into, especially if they are high-functioning. Combating perfectionism is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. Here’s how to do it.

Recognize That You’re a Perfectionist

You need to recognize that you’re a perfectionist in order to address the problem. If you have a horrible fear of starting a project because you’re afraid that you won’t do it properly, or if you make impossible goals and never achieve them, you might be a perfectionist.

Perfectionists often make elaborate plans but can’t follow through on them because they are afraid to start any projects for fear of failure or get overwhelmed.

Procrastination and “all or nothing” thinking are two huge hallmarks of perfectionism. Since both of these will seriously hurt your life, it’s time to recognize the problem and begin to address it.

Embrace Catastrophic Thinking

Catastrophic thinking is when our minds automatically go to the worst possible outcome. It can cause us to be terrified to start projects or worry about every little thing. As it turns out, one of the best ways to deal with catastrophic thinking is to embrace it.

Catastrophic thinking engages our fight or flight instinct, which triggers our cortisol levels to spike and makes us frantic, but we rarely ever think it through. Next time you find yourself engaging in catastrophic thinking, follow your line of reasoning to the end. Imagine if the worst-case scenario did happen, and then you might realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.

Since perfectionism hinges on procrastination and drama, catastrophic thinking might help us put things into perspective and be less perfectionistic.

Be Kinder to Yourself

Negative self-talk can really harm our psyche and cause us to doubt ourselves frequently. Fight back against negative self-talk by identifying it while it’s happening and making an active effort to stop it.

Next time you hear that little negative voice in your head telling you to procrastinate or that you can’t do something, identify it for what it is and work to get rid of it. Although most people aren’t able to do this right away, you should be able to make some changes with practice.

Break Down Big Goals Into Manageable Chunks

One of the main things that perfectionists do is to create massive goals that they have no idea how to achieve. It’s great to have stretch goals, but in order to make them achievable, you need to break them down into manageable chunks or key performance indicators. This makes the goals a lot less intimidating, and you have a roadmap for how to proceed.

Also, by breaking your goals down, you will be able to celebrate little wins. Each win will give your confidence a small boost and encourage you to continue on in your pursuit of the goal. As you increase your confidence, you will be less paralyzed by fear and more able to overcome procrastination.

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

Many perfectionists don’t want to start projects because they don’t think they can accomplish them flawlessly. Unfortunately, this means that they never begin anything. Instead of waiting until you can do a project to complete satisfaction before starting it, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Good work is generally very satisfactory, and it’s a lot better than doing no work at all. Plus, you might discover that the job is a lot easier than you initially thought it was once you get started. Push through in the beginning if you need to.

Schedule Your Time Off

Most people have no problems scheduling their work tasks, but they rarely schedule their time off. Mark downtime in your calendar for days off, movie nights, or dinners with friends.

Perfectionists tend to have jam-packed calendars full of over-commitments that they won’t fulfill. Instead of having an unrealistic calendar, give yourself a break and schedule only what you can reasonably accomplish, and a little extra time off for yourself.

Downtime is the key to a good work-life balance and can help to squash any tendencies towards perfectionism. Also, you’ll feel better and less stressed out.

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