4 ways to stop your perfectionism from taking over your life

It takes you forever to complete tasks because everything just has to be perfect. Your standards are through the roof, costing you a massive amount of time and and energy every time you have to get something done at work or at home.

If your need for perfectionism is sucking up all of  your time and destroying your mental clarity, here are a few tips for bringing yourself back down to earth.

Remember that ‘there is no perfect’

The need for every single thing to go exactly the way you planned can be paralyzing, and leaves you no room for error — which is a necessary part of life and growth.

In addition, the entire concept of perfection is a fantasy, argues entrepreneur and motivational speaker Evan Carmichael.

“There is no perfect – your main goal is just trying to be better than you were yesterday,” Carmichael says.

He gives an example about would-be YouTube stars who record their first video, but then get so caught up in what they don’t like about their finished product, they never upload it to the channel.

This crushing perfectionism is getting in the way of them being able to share their work with the public — flaws and all — in order to be able to learn from their mistakes and make a better product next time.

Or, as shame and vulnerability researcher and bestselling author Brené Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection,  “Perfectionism is self destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal.” 

Think about the bars you set for yourself vs. others

Expecting yourself to be the best at everything is not realistic — or sustainable.

Odds are, you’re expecting too much of yourself. Don’t believe it? Think about the standards you set for others — compared to yourself — to see where the differences are.

“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,” author Nathalie Thompson, author of the book FearLESS, writes in HuffPost.

By that same logic, however, don’t become overly concerned about how other people perform, and whether you measure up, she says.

There will always be people who are better at what you want to do than you are. Likewise, there will always be people who are worse at it, too … Your worth as a person is not and should not be dependent on how you compare to anyone else around you,” Thompson writes.

Abandon the word ‘should’

Stressing about other obligations you have can weigh you down, and take you away from the present moment.

Blogger Nicole Varvitsiotes writes about what happened when she ditched the word “should” in an article for The Muse.

“Ridding ‘should’ from my vocabulary helped, too. It was an eye-opening experience, realizing how often I felt burdened by the 18 things I “should be doing” instead of being at a friend’s bonfire. What things “should” be or look like. The self-recriminations slowed as I lowered my unobtainable standards, and eventually I didn’t need to be an eight-packed runner with a 401(k) and a book deal to know my worth. Now, I tell myself “So what?” and move right along to celebrate my friends, loves, and self,” she writes.

Don’t feel guilty for being in the present.

Get comfortable with the word ‘no’

Don’t stretch yourself too thin.

Life coach and psychologist Matthew Jones writes that overcommitting yourself to too many things — no matter how well-intentioned — because of your drive to do them all perfectly will only backfire.

“Perfectionists often struggle with saying no to new opportunities due to their high ambition,” Jones writes in Inc.  “Stop taking on extra tasks that aren’t directly related to your passion so that you can invest in your own wellbeing and continue working on what truly matters.”

Although it might seem like you want to tackle new volunteer work, new tasks at your job and helping a friend in need, if you don’t make an effort to prioritize yourself and your needs, you could end up feeling resentful and exhausted.