How to Overcome Perfectionism To Be Successful and Happy in LIfe

“Perfection is impossible; strive to do your best.” – Angela Watson

Are you constantly putting yourself under pressure to achieve unreasonable and unrealistic goals because they seem ‘perfect’ to you? 

any people are stuck in the vicious cycle of perfectionism without even realizing that trying to be perfect is actually doing more damage than good.

Perfectionism can be the reason why you aren’t able to grow and move forward in life. It is a paradox.

People try to be a perfectionist to achieve success but that becomes the reason of their failure.

That is why overcoming perfectionism is important. You need to free yourself from the burden of being a perfectionist, allow yourself to make mistakes and be imperfect so that you can achieve success in life.


Are you a perfectionist? Here are 6 signs that might indicate that you are a perfectionist.

6 Signs You Maybe A Perfectionist

perfectionism signs


 1. You have all or nothing thinking


What is all or nothing thinking?


Let’s say that you have decided to start reading every day for 10 minutes for the next 2 weeks. And you skipped one day because you forgot and didn’t have time to read.  Do you continue to read from the next day? Or do you stop reading and give up because you made a mistake and you cannot accept anything less than a perfect result which in this case is reading every day for 2 weeks without even missing a day.


If this sounds familiar to you, then you might be having all-or-nothing thinking. Reading is just an example.


I also had this all-or-nothing thinking which I identified recently. This is the main reason I haven’t been able to stick to any new habits for a long time. It’s either do it perfectly or not.


I haven’t developed any good habits until a few months back because of my all-or-nothing thinking. I always wanted to wake up early in the morning. I could wake up successfully for few days and then I will slip one day. And that’s it. I would give up developing this new habit because I failed for one day. After all, it isn’t perfect anymore.


 2. You procrastinate a lot


Perfectionism and procrastination go hand in hand. It seems paradoxical, isn’t it? If perfectionists want to get things done perfectly then why would they procrastinate?


 Because of their fear of failure. The high bar of excellence that a perfectionist has set for themselves makes them feel that anything less than perfection is a failure. So, because of this fear of failure perfectionists tend to procrastinate doing things.


I have been a procrastinator too. There are times when I have procrastinated to do things because I want to get them done perfectly. Either that or not.


So, the next time when you feel like procrastinating doing things ask and evaluate yourself is it because you are lazy to get things done or because you are scared that you cannot achieve the high bar of expectations you have set for yourself.


Overcoming perfectionism might be the way for you to stop procrastination.

3.  You are never satisfied

Whatever you do, you are never satisfied. Can you relate to this?


You always feel that you could have done it better, that you didn’t give your best.

4. You criticize yourself and others

Neither can you stand yourself when you don’t get things done perfectly nor others. You are overly critical of yourself and others who don’t meet your golden standards of perfection.


This can lead to strained relationships because whatever others do for you it isn’t just enough. And overly criticizing yourself can also be the cause of low self-esteem.

5. You keep impossible goals to attain

Because of their pursuit to get things done perfectly, perfectionist tends to keep highly difficult goals which aren’t even reasonable. That’s because anything less than that doesn’t satisfy them and they feel like a failure.


I have been doing this for years. As I said earlier, I always wanted to wake up early in the morning. So, one day I decided to wake up from 5 am and continue it every day. I wanted to develop a good habit and that should be perfect from day one.


If you have ever tried to wake up early, you know that it’s not possible to change your sleeping habits within a day or two. It takes time. That wasn’t acceptable for me because I wanted to be perfectly following the routine from the first day. And obviously, I failed. I tried again by doing the same thing and failed again.


So, take a few moments and analyze if you have been keeping unrealistic goals from the starting because you cannot accept anything less than being perfect.

6. You feel unhappy and unsatisfied if you haven’t achieved your unrealistic goal


Since you couldn’t achieve the goal, you feel unsatisfied, even though it was near perfect. You don’t try again and certainly didn’t enjoy the process of growing and changing for the good.


Instead, you end up overly criticizing yourself for the failure.


The Vicious Cycle of Perfectionism

As you can see from these signs, perfectionists are stuck in a vicious cycle of trying to achieve perfection, failing to do so, overly criticizing yourself for the failure, feeling unhappy, and then procrastinating because they are worried that they will fail again.


For overcoming perfectionism, you need to break this cycle. 

 Overcoming Perfectionism : 9 Tips

 1. Identify the signs

The first and the most important step is that you need to identify the signs. You need to observe and evaluate yourself. See if you can identify a pattern. Awareness is the first step.


One way that will help you with this is to evaluate yourself and record it in a journal. That will help you to see and identify whether you are stuck in a vicious cycle of perfectionism.


Journaling is what helped me to identify that I was a perfectionist. And it is journaling that helped me stop chasing perfectionism.

 2. Accept that perfectionism isn’t doing anything good for you

The next step after identifying is that you need to accept that perfectionism is doing more harm than any good for you. You need to accept that trying to be perfect is the reason behind you not being able to achieve your goals.


As paradoxical as it sounds, that is the truth. And it might be difficult to accept that. Maybe you have been conditioned by your family and the society that you need to be perfect to achieve success.



But now that you can see that it isn’t the truth, the next step is to accept that perfectionism is actually destroying you and is the roadblock to your growth.

 3. Silence your inner critic

When the inner critic inside you tells you that being less than perfect is a failure, try to actively silence that inner voice. Don’t let that voice take control of you.


Instead, you should actively replace those thoughts with positive ones.


So whenever that inner voice of yours criticizes you should actively challenge those by reminding yourself that perfectionism is not the path for growth.

 4. Set more realistic goals

Try to set realistic goals, especially in the beginning. Also, try to lower your standards of success so that you can actually move forward and become successful.


Always remember that it is better to set realistic goals, achieve them, and be successful and happy rather than setting impossible goals, failing to achieve them, and being unsatisfied and unhappy.

 5. Accept failures

Perfectionists struggle to accept failure because of the high standards they set for themselves.


Failure can teach you more than success can. So accept and embrace your failure. Give yourself permission to fail. Remind yourself that failure means that you are being human and that it is okay.


Stop being hard on yourself and throwing yourself in a rut when you couldn’t achieve what you wanted to. Get up, try again and learn from the failures.

 6. It’s the journey that matters

Perfectionists are more focused on the result, the outcome. But more than the result of achieving the goal, it’s the journey that matters.


The process involved in trying to achieve something has more value than achieving itself. Try not to be goal-oriented, instead focus on the process.



Let’s say you want to exercise 5 times a week. Instead of focusing on the frequency of times you are doing the exercise, focus on the process of becoming healthy. Because in the end, you are healthy is what matters. This thought will motivate you to continue with your exercise regime even if you miss a day or two. Because now you have changed your focus from result to the process and you are no longer worried about following the perfect exercise routine.

 7. Be self-compassionate

Stop being your own enemy when you couldn’t achieve the perfect goal. Don’t overly criticize and learn to forgive yourself.


Remind yourself that imperfection is the beauty of life and you were trying to chase something which doesn’t exist.

8. Remind yourself that perfection is an illusion

Analyze what is perfect for you and why you want to achieve it in the first place. Is social media and today’s media frenzy the reason behind the drive for achieving perfection? The perfect job, wedding, vacation, job, body – why do you want everything to be perfect?


Remember that perfection is an illusion. It is subjective too. What might be perfect for you might not be perfect for others. So if you trying to be perfect to please others then it makes no sense because there is no standardized measure for perfection.


So stop chasing behind perfection because it doesn’t exist at all.

9. Start doing things that you want to do

Stop procrastinating and start doing the things that you always wanted to do. Now that you know that it’s the process that matters and perfection is an illusion, do the things that you always wanted to do.


It can be creative activities like writing, painting, or developing new habits such as exercising, morning routine. Start doing things imperfectly and figure out and improve things on the way.


Perfectionism might be causing you more damage than you think. It might be the culprit for you not being able to grow and achieve success. Overcoming perfectionism is possible. But it takes a lot of practice and time.


But once you free yourself from unrealistic expectations and goals your life becomes easier. You will be more at peace with yourself and will be able to grow in life. 


Overcoming perfectionism might be the key factor that will help you to reduce stress, be more happier and successful in life.


Hope these tips will help you in overcoming perfectionism and be at ease with yourself.

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