Conversation with Your BFF: How Do I Stop Being a Perfectionist?


One of the hardest behaviors or traits to overcome is being a perfectionist. I should know because I am one, and I battle it almost daily; many of my friends are perfectionists, too. You know what they say, “Birds of a feather flock together.” But is it possible to break the cycle of striving for perfection and focus on the idea of completion and doing your best? It’s easier said than done, but I’m so glad you asked the question!

Our Lives Can Set Us Up to Seek Perfection 

As an only child in a dysfunctional family, I thought being perfect was my job. If I did everything right, from keeping my room clean, to helping my mom with dinner, to my grades, and everything in between, all would be good. That wasn’t the case. The family dynamic had little to do with me and my perfectionist ways, but I kept trying up until I was 24 and got married. Then the role of being the perfect wife was mine and I was going to knock it out of the park. Not to brag, but I did. My house was spotless, I had a job I excelled in, a meal was always on the table every night, and I took care of the yard. But I can tell you I was tired. I never felt anything I did was good enough or ready to be judged by others.

No matter if you are working on a project, an essay for a college course, cleaning your house, or anything, a perfectionist always has a nagging feeling that nothing is ‘complete’ until it is perfect. Realizing that striving for perfection is harming your mind and your life is hard, but reminding yourself that nothing in this world can be created perfectly or completed perfectly can help set your mind right.

Perfection is subjective; what you may see as perfect probably isn’t what I would think is perfect. In fact, heck, Apple can’t make a new iPhone without glitches and in need of updates to fix the hiccups in their latest and greatest. If the first iPhone were perfect, then we wouldn’t be waiting on iPhone 13. (Since 13 isn’t the luckiest number, if I were them, I would skip to 14, but I digress.)

Much like technology, we are also always evolving in our ideas, our tastes, our feelings, with constantly changing thoughts. Think back to your hairstyle in high school; would you wear your hair like that again? Probably not, but you don’t shame yourself too much over the Farrah Fawcett wings and Aquanet shellac, right?

Our world is one where personal productivity is crucial to our success, so we have to complete the projects we start. To get where we need to be, we need to stop focusing on perfection and instead our goal should be completion to the best of our ability. When something is done, it is done! Don’t tinker on it to death until you’ve frustrated yourself and those around you.

It might come to mind that by focusing on completion, you are settling for substandard or not your best, but that’s not completely true. The more you do something; your standards will become higher, thus making completion more satisfying.

Someone once told me, as I was stressing over something, ‘the joy of completion is far better than the pain of a perfect, half-completed project.’ Don’t be so hard on yourself…no one and nothing is perfect.



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