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Overcoming Perfectionism: 7 Steps to Silence Your Inner Perfectionist

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There exist so many misconceptions about perfectionism. Many view it as a positive personality trait since perfectionists have attention to detail and try executing given tasks excellently and consequently, find overcoming perfectionism totally unnecessary.

However, there is a clear difference between excellence and perfectionism. There is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to put much effort into something and wanting to do an excellent job, but real perfectionism goes way beyond that. Perfectionist thoughts and behavior can be extremely exhausting and even toxic.

If you recognize yourself in one of the following, you’re probably a perfectionist.

  • You obsessively worry about imperfections
  • You find it difficult to find the motivation to start a task because you know when you start it, you have to do the task perfectly
  • You are never satisfied with your results because it always can be improved. Nothing is ever ‘finished’ according to you.
  • When something is ‘perfect’, it gives you this deep feeling of satisfaction
  • You lose an excessive amount of time over details
  • You’re putting a huge amount of pressure on yourself and can’t accept any failure or mistakes

Obviously, there exist different ‘levels’ in perfectionism. Some only suffer a tiny bit from it, while for others perfectionism is very present in their day-to-day lives.

Independently of how strong your perfectionism is, chances are that it is holding you back from embracing your full potential.

Are you exhausted because you constantly have to fight this urge to do everything perfectly? And you would love to finally start living freely without all of this negativity and worries?

Here are 7 steps that you can take today for overcoming perfectionism and reaching your full potential.

Other Reads:


1. Becoming self-aware

Perfectionism is often very deeply rooted and comes from a place of self-doubt and insecurity.

Often, perfectionists have very demanding parents or have grown up in a competitive environment, which has caused them to unconsciously seek approval and acceptance by trying to do things as perfectly as possible.

Action point 1: Reflect and journal about where you think that your perfectionism possibly originates from. Try to understand events in your past that might have created this perfectionism you have, without judging yourself or blaming others. Just notice certain patterns and areas in your life that might be interconnected. You have to accept that you can’t control your past, but you can control what’s going to happen moving forward. So decide to not let your future be defined by your past anymore.

Action point 2: To overcome perfectionism, it really helps to write down a list of all the ways that perfectionism is limiting you in your everyday life. Which things didn’t you start or finish because you felt paralyzed by perfectionist thoughts? Which opportunities did your perfectionism rob you of?

2. Realize that perfection doesn’t exist

If you seek perfection in order to feel happy, then you have to realize that you probably won’t find happiness ever… I really want you to take a moment and truly realize that there doesn’t exist something such as perfection.

There will always be something that can be improved as little as it might be.

The good news is that if perfection does not exist, this also means that you don’t have to feel bad about yourself anymore for doing something not perfect (because it simply isn’t possible). 🙂

This doesn’t mean that you can’t do your best effort anymore, not at all.

You just have to shift your focus from perfection to excellence and efficiency. Knowing to stop when something is good enough and being proud of it.

Action point 3: When you know that a task should take you around 45 minutes, then set a timer for 1 hour and try to work as efficiently as possible and get the task done a well as you can in that hour. You have 15 minutes of wiggle room, so it should be fine! When the alarm rings, you move on to the next task without looking back and worrying about its imperfections (because remember, perfection doesn’t exist 😉 ). This trick will help you to let go of your tendency to lose hours and hours of time over little details.

3. Celebrate your accomplishments

When you have accomplished something (small or big), then take the evening off to actually celebrate it. Pop that bottle of champagne or drink that glace of wine! You did it and it might not have been easy! So smile and be genuinely proud of yourself.

Action point 4: Think about a reward that you can give yourself as compensation for the hard work you have put in (maybe a self-care night, a lazy Sunday, buying that dress that you are wanting to buy for ages, ordering sushi,…).

Action point 5: Another recommendation that I have mentioned a lot on this blog, is starting a ‘Victory Journal’, where you write down all of your accomplishments every week. When you feel insecure or anxious for something that you have to do, then grab and read your Victory Journal and remind yourself of the girl boss you are. 🙂


4. Overcoming perfectionism by introducing self-acceptance and kindness into your life

It is so important to be kind to yourself and be your own best friend because the world is already such a hard place.

Perfectionism is in the end nothing more than a flawed way of thinking that you have developed through the years, but it can be overwritten by new beliefs and thought patterns.

Try to shift your feelings of self-worth from your accomplishments to your personality. Think about it: Your friends love you for the way you are, not for how perfectly you do things.

You are worthy and good enough, just for existing on this planet.

And of course, everyone has their imperfections, but those are what make you special, interesting and unique.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and realize that these are the things that let you learn and grow the most. In other words, for being able to improve yourself, you HAVE to make mistakes.

It is obviously important to be willing to invest time in self-development, but as a perfectionist, you have to be careful with your mindset here. Do you desperately want to grow and improve yourself out of a mindset of not feeling good enough and only seeing your imperfections?

Self-development should be an act of self-love and self-acceptance, and not from a place of unworthiness.

Self-love and self-acceptance are NOT about claiming that you are perfect. It is about recognizing your areas of development, accepting those, and loving yourself anyway.

If you only want to improve yourself in order to feel good enough, then you will be never happy with yourself, because you will always find things to improve upon.

Action Point 6: Repeat after me: I’m good enough, I’m worthy, I accept myself for the person I am. I love spending time learning new skills and improving my mindset to reach my full potential. Even though I recognize I have some areas for development, I truly and completely accept and love myself.

5. Be grateful and focus on the positive

Often, as a perfectionist, you tend to focus on the negativity in things. You will always notice the imperfections and potential improvements in everything.

When somebody gives you a compliment, you might answer something such as ‘nooo, actually I still have to do this and this to improve it’.

While it’s important for many jobs to be detail-oriented and critical, it is kind of sad that perfectionists miss out on all of the beautiful and amazing things they have in their life and experience every day.

Action Point 7: Open your eyes, look around and start noticing all these beautiful and amazing things in your life. Start practicing gratefulness and write down 3 things you are grateful for every single day. No, your life might not be perfect, but nobody’s is, but if you start focusing on the positive things that happen to you every day, you will be so much happier.

6. The journey is more important than the destination

Perfectionists also tend to be so focused on their results and the future, that they sometimes forget to enjoy the journey.

As a perfectionist, you are always on your way to achieving the next challenge or accomplishing the next goal. And you think ‘if I have reached that goal, I will feel so happy and proud.’

But in the end, after actually accomplishing it, you might feel great for maybe a few minutes and you then move on to the next challenge.

Do you recognize that feeling when you are in bed at the end of the day, and you are thinking about your day and realize how much fun you actually had, but you didn’t even realize this at the moment itself?

You are not really present in the moment and consequently, do not realize how amazing a certain moment is while you are living it. Perfectionism really robs you of those valuable and special moments.

Action Point 8: For overcoming perfectionism, try being more present in the moment and start appreciating the little things in life, while you are living it. Meditate, take a walk outside, or listen to some calm music and take the time to come back to yourself. Enjoy the journey and don’t let these amazing moments slip away from you.

7. Restructuring revolutionarylanguage

Perfectionists often tend to think in all-or-nothing terms. It’s either white or black.

The words your inner voice chooses are super powerful. Think about all the ‘musts’, ‘have to’s’ and ‘shoulds’ that your mind tells you on a daily basis.

For overcoming perfectionism, you have to start to really question these: which ‘have to’s’ are actually really there? And which ones did your mind just made up?

Action Point 9: Try to shift these ‘have to’s’ into ‘want to’s’ and it really helps to also add ‘in order to…’ to put things into perspective.

NOT: I have to improve this, because it isn’t good enough.

BUT INSTEAD: I want and choose to improve this , in order to…

Ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I honestly want to improve this? Is it truly necessary to improve this? Do I feel excited to improve this? Or it is just my perfectionism voice that is telling me to?

  • Secondly, try to finish the sentence. In order to…what? In order to feel satisfied? In order for it to be perfect? That’s clearly your perfectionism speaking because I’m going to say it one more time: perfection doesn’t exist and you won’t feel ever satisfied with your work. So what’s the point in trying?

At first, when you really start working on your perfectionism, you will feel extremely uncomfortable and not at ease to just leave things not perfect and be OK with that. But eventually, if you are consistently creating new thoughts that aren’t in line with your perfectionist beliefs, you will be able to adapt and change and let go of the compulsive power perfectionism has over you.

And if you do, you will be able to find a sense of peace and pure happiness. I promise you, it will be totally worth it!

This blog post is part of my limiting belief series. Keep an eye out in the following weeks for more posts that will help you to overcome other limiting beliefs! 🙂

Other Reads:


Let’s Chat!

Are you a (recovering) perfectionist like me? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Katrina says:

    These are really great tips! I think I’m a perfectionist in that I don’t like to fail. So if I know I’m going to fail, I don’t even attempt it because I think I have to be perfect all the time even at stuff that I have no experience with. It’s something I’ve been trying to get over and these tips are really helpful.

  2. I love this! I feel like as women we strive for perfection and get frustrated when we don’t reach that impossible goal. I need to just rock what I got and find peace in the journey.

  3. I love your tips ! I am a perfectionnist and sometimes it is really stressful! I will try to use your tips to relax !

  4. James says:

    Love your tips!

  5. Monica says:

    Such great tips! Particularly love #2. I am such a perfectionist and struggle with it on a daily basis, will definitely put these into practice.

  6. jeannie says:

    great tips, these help me evaluate if I am really a perfectionist or not. I like rewarding myself with small accomplishments.

  7. Helpful thoughts! I am always putting enormous amounts of pressure on myself and have trouble forgiving mistakes. I will definitely be putting some of this into practice.

  8. Jessica says:

    These are really awesome tips and being reminded of them often is a great way to help overcome perfectionism. I know I struggle with perfectionism and I’m definitely going to put these tips to good use!

  9. I love this. I am a recovering perfectionist as well. I never measured up to my own standard… but it was just my standard. Thank you for these tips.

  10. m et md says:

    I struggled sometimes with perfectionism, these are great tips to overcome it!

  11. Sarah says:

    This is definitely something I struggle with. I love your tips and will definitely try this out. Thank you!

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