3 Tips to Help You Break Your Habit of Perfectionism

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When I was asked what my biggest flaw was during job interviews, I used to share that I was a perfectionist. I was being honest and cheeky at the same time. See I knew full well that in the corporate world, perfectionism wasn’t a flaw at all. They saw it as someone who was dedicated, who would do things right the first time, who would pay attention to the details, who had high expectations, someone who did their best at all times. While all of that is true to a certain point, I really did mean it was a flaw.

You see perfectionism was something I struggled with. While I was dedicated, it was to a fault. I often sacrificed my mental health and physical wellbeing. My habit of perfectionism often deprived me of sleep, cut into my family time, and ultimately left me feeling less than perfect. I was so determined to get things right the “first time” I executed them, that I would ruminate over details and put unnecessary stress and pressure on myself. I had such high expectations of myself they were often not just unrealistic but physically impossible. Guess what? Those weren’t limited to myself. The expectations I had of others were equally as impossible making it difficult for me to trust or reach out to others because they’d just let me down by not living up to my expectations. I didn’t strive to do my best, I tried to be the best. That was a lot of pressure to put on myself and cope with.

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned there’s a difference between being a perfectionist and striving for excellence. These days I aim for progress. I have a healthy sense of striving to be my best self and do the best that I’m capable of. My former perfectionist ways would have scoffed at that. It would have sounded mediocre, lackluster, and frankly like someone who wasn’t focused on excellence. Now I understand that by striving for perfection, I was really using a mask to cover the fact that I didn’t feel like I was good enough. Striving for perfection was a way of boosting my self-esteem and trying to validate my self-worth. Looking back, it wasn’t working out very well. It just put more pressure and expectation on myself and made situations harder to deal with. It strained the relationship I had with myself and cost me relationships in my life.

I used to think that my life was easier as a perfectionist. Organized into categories, knowing what to expect from myself, and always setting the bar high. Now I can’t help but think how exhausting it was! Not only that but it contributed to me playing small in my life. I didn’t take chances or opportunities that I didn’t think had a high probability of excelling in. My life is so much easier for me now that I have a grounded sense of self and am able to chase big dreams in a manageable and actionable way. I no longer reflect on my day and turn things over in my mind because I didn’t do it good enough or I wasn’t enough. I go to bed at night knowing I did all that I could that day and put an action plan in place for the next day.

If you’ve struggled with the habit of perfectionism, I want to encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Remember that we all do the best we can with what we have and take steps to strive for progress over perfection. Here are three tips I have for you as you distance yourself from perfection and embrace progress. These have helped me cultivate an optimal environment of peace of mind and self-acceptance.

  • Practice embracing mistakes| they help keep us humble. None of us are above making mistakes. Learning how to embrace them and take ownership of them helps increase the accountability we take for our life as a whole.
  • Learn from your “failures”| As perfectionists, there’s a tendency to hold onto failure. Yet there’s no point in that being such a vivid memory if we don’t learn anything from it. So make a note of what that failure taught you so you can adjust your approach for the next time.
  • Release expectation| Learning to allow things to unfold enables things beyond our control to take place which can lead to things turning out better than we ever could have planned them!

So while I might have been cheeky trying to cover my low sense of self-worth with my very honest answer at the end of the day, I realize that perfectionism was my biggest flaw. It’s something I’ve dedicated myself to improve over the years. At the end of the day, I’m a student of life. While I don’t chase perfection, I do chase progress. I’ll be a work in progress for the rest of my life, and I’m content with that.


What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any tips you’d share to help others practice breaking their habit of perfectionism? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to strive for progress over perfection!

Niki Meadows

12 thoughts on “3 Tips to Help You Break Your Habit of Perfectionism

    1. It wasn’t until I embarked on an intense journey of overcoming depression that I realized just how stressful being a perfectionist was! There I thought that it was making my life easier but it was just complicating it in ways I’d never stopped to consider. I’m so glad that you found this post and found it helpful. The first step towards change is awareness. Now that it’s something you’re aware of you can be open to ways to support the growth. Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nikki, I agree and the three points are the learning curves of life. One thing I realized that sometimes we tend to build expectations that can be detrimental to our well-being. How about competing with the self than with the rest of the world? Every day, we can do something that will help us to improve and be better than yesterday, raising the standard higher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t they?! As a former perfectionist, expectation was something I had to really practice letting go of. At the time, I thought it was a positive thing but I realized that it set me up for disappointment more times than not!

      When it comes to competition, I think it depends. Is it a healthy sense of striving for progress or the pursuit of perfection and trying to be the best. Everything in moderation. If you’re striving to be better and to better than yesterday and being gentle and understanding, I think that’s great! If one is putting themselves down and has an unhealthy perspective of competing with the self, that’s where releasing expectation, practicing self-acceptance, and self-love will go a long way.

      You’re right, every day we can do and be better than the day before. That’s why I like to take a perspective of being a student in life. I strive to learn more so I can be and do better without the expectation of being a master. A student-teacher practices what they teach. The more you practice the better you get. There’s a quote I read recently that summarizes where I am with my journey. It said that you are allowed to be a work in progress and a masterpiece at the same time. I don’t feel like I have to be perfect or do things perfectly but that doesn’t mean I surrender and stop trying to progress altogether. Sometimes things aren’t so black and white. I think that’s something we tend to forget. We like to see things in neat boxes and beautifully labeled categories. It doesn’t have to be either or. A masterpiece in progress 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was amazing!! I do some times feel that am a perfectionist. I find my self. Focusing on all the details. It takes up my time. But for reason I feel that I must do it. Still have been working on taking it day by day week by week. It most definitely something that has to be worked on. I think its about training your mind. I think I do try my best. I feel like everyone who is like this try their best!

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