While wanting to complete everything at a 100 percent might sound like a great personality trait, it can actually be pretty damaging. So if you're one of the many that want to learn how to stop being a perfectionist, then you've come to the right place. Having the burden of polishing every task you touch until it's gleaming is so annoying. You can't start a project without already resigning to the possibility of burning the midnight oil, can't tidy up without doing a full spring cleaning, can't just submit the report and move onto the next task without letting it senselessly take up most of your afternoon. While it might sound like something to strive for, being a perfectionist takes a lot of energy and can set you back way, way more than it will move you forward.
So how do you stop that need to make everything spic and span and perfect? You need to put things into perspective. See what you're missing out on while taking ages to complete one project, what kind of people you're alienating because of your high standards, what kind of positives you're over-looking because of your expectations. It's time to shake off those limitations. Below are 11 ways to get over being a perfectionist — you can do this.
1. Think Of What You're Giving Up By Being One
To those who don't want to try unless they'll be absolutely perfect: You're actually being left behind in the dust because of that move. Why? Because those of us who try, and ultimately make a mess out of things are learning, and because of that we're getting further ahead. So to stop your perfectionist tendencies, put that into perspective. Career writer Kat Boogaard from career development site The Muse explained, "Listen, I know that nobody likes to set themselves up for defeat and embarrassment. But, holding yourself back from opportunities for growth, improvement, and learning in order to avoid potential humiliation isn’t recommended either." Realize it's not worth it.
2. Stop The Crazy In Its Tracks
The simple way to get over perfectionism? Stop it in its tracks as soon as you feel yourself spiraling. Lifestyle writer Nathalie Thompson from Huffington Post recommended, "When you find yourself slipping into self-criticism mode, actually tell yourself: 'Stop!' Reframe your thought into something more positive." Focus on the good you did and not what you think is still lacking.
3. Go For "Good Enough"
Think about it: Will this report make or break your career? Is this project something that is going to follow you for the rest of your life? No? Then aim for doing a great job, but not perfect. Because in the end, it's not going to matter how perfect it is anyway. Henrik Edberg from self-improvement site Positivity Blog said, "Aiming for perfection usually winds up in a project or something else never being finished. So go for good enough instead." It'll give you the same results.
4. Seek Out Failure
Rather than doing everything you can to stop it in its tracks, seek out failure to make it less scary for you. Lifestyle writer Laura G. Jones from self-improvement site Pick The Brain explained, "Designate one day as your 'brave day'. On this day, seek to fail. Engage in personal conversations, be silly, don’t clean the house, and order pizza for dinner. Put yourself in tough situations and don’t do the things that you normally do for control comfort (like compulsive cleaning)." By practicing this you'll get over your fear of not being perfect, with none of the guilt.
5. Talk To Yourself Like You Would To A Friend
We have a harsher critical eye when it comes to ourselves, but we tend to think what our friends produce is perfection. So the next time you feel that perfectionist eye twitch, try to look at the project at hand as if it were your friend's task or work. Thompson advised, "Think about what you’d say to your best friend if he or she was in your shoes and give yourself some encouragement, instead!" Chances are it's already great the way it is and doesn't need more work — and this move will help you realize it.
6. Put Into Perspective What Other Things You Could Have Been Doing
You spent a solid three hours writing a report and polishing the language just so, but in reality you could have finished it in an hour and gone on to do other tasks. Why is this realization important? Because building your career or your personal well being is more important than making sure every aspect of it is perfect. You're literally wasting hours. Boogaard offered, "Those hours you wasted agonizing over what exact fonts to use in that sales report? Well, they required you to pass up a happy hour with your co-workers — an outing that would’ve granted you the opportunity to build better relationships with your colleagues." In the end, those extras you're giving up could actually be more helpful then your perfect end results.
7. Practice Gratitude
Rather than wishing (and compulsively striving for) your life to be better, instead practice some gratitude. Jones explained, "You might have expectations of what it should be like or different goals and disappointments. But that is just your perception of your life. Your perception is flexible. You can change it at any moment by choosing what to focus on." So get rid of your perfectionist tendencies by accepting the fact your life is pretty darn perfect if you stopped comparing it to a crazy standard.
8. Think Of The Harm It Might Be Causing
Your perfectionism doesn't just affect you, it also bleeds out to those around you. Edberg pointed out that it tends to "harm or possibly lead you to end relationships, jobs, projects etc. just because your expectations are out of this world." Don't go writing off people, careers, or ideas just because they don't meet a bar that's set insanely high. It's hurting you in the end.
9. Compare Yourself To Yourself
Rather than comparing yourself to others, see how much progress you've made by looking back at your own timetable and history. Edberg recommended, "See your improvement, see how far you have come. Look back at what you have overcome." Chances are you'll see you've been becoming better all along, without the intense pressure.
10. Adjust Your Standards
Instead of keeping yourself at a ridiculous standard, get in touch with what is actually expected of you. Thompson recommended asking, "What would you expect from someone else in your situation? If you’d be happy with your performance if it had come from someone else, then give yourself the recognition you deserve."
11. Admit Nothing Is Perfect
No matter how much time you put into that article or how much you tweak your living room, nothing will ever be truly perfect. So why drive yourself crazy. Boogaard pointed out, "while I don’t recommend throwing your hands up and simply settling for mediocrity, there’s truly no reason to drive yourself nuts trying to achieve absolute faultlessness — because that’s likely never going to happen." Admit that outcome doesn't exist and give yourself a break.
You can still do a stellar job, just learn it's okay to leave it at that. You'll be happier for it.