Defined by UCL’s Roz Shafran in her book Overcoming Perfection as;
“the setting of, and striving to meet very demanding standards that are self-imposed and relentlessly pursued despite this causing problems. It involves basing your self-worth almost exclusively on how well these high standards are pursued and achieved."
Perfection is the pursuit of more. It’s achievement without satisfaction, races with no finish lines, the constant search for bigger, better, and brighter. An expectation you set for yourself that you’d never expect of anyone else in your life.
Pursuit of perfection = fear
When you live in fear of making a mistake, you’re putting yourself through a load of stress, which in turn means you don’t make the best decisions and it puts your body through a helluva time too. You’re also putting yourself at risk of burnout, guilt and exhaustion.
So we can all agree that perfectionist tendencies are best avoided. But, when it’s something that can be so ingrained in your personality - how do you retrain your brain to let it go?
5 ways to regain control of perfectionism
1- Believe you’re enough
You mindset is made up of your views on life. So building a mindset from beliefs based in fantasy is always going to be hard to create. Try to change your mindset to reflect realistic expectations, that you are more than good enough to be a part of.
2- Laters, haters
Giving yourself a hard time isn’t going to help anything. So have a think about the standard you are holding yourself to, and if you’d do that to anyone else. Telling yourself that you're never going to achieve something will make sure you never achieve it.
**that was a bit good wasn’t it? Maybe I should create a motivational meme… anyone here creative enough to make one for me?
3- Make your own damn decisions
Maybe (I hope), you remember this email from a couple of weeks ago about how to make a decision. Well, it helps with those perfectionist tendencies too. Making decisions for yourself is a good way to prove that you can trust you. There’s really no need to always get everyone else’s opinion, you know what you want to do - go for it.
4- Appreciate now
Accepting where you are right now is a great way to stop fixating on where you need to be. So take a minute to appreciate and acknowledge where you are, and how far you’ve come.
5- Focus on progress
Recognising how far you’ve come, and acknowledging each step as you take it helps you take gain confidence and improves your self-worth. Knowing that every stage is just as important as another, will help you to give up the need to strive for perfection.
For more tips on how to tame your perfectionism, check out this Ted Talk from Thomas Curran.