Perfectionism is something that many people struggle with, but it's especially common among our age group. In fact, a recent study showed that young people struggle with perfectionism more than ever before. As a young woman, I can attest that the pressure to be my "best" is constant, whether it's relating to how I look, how I perform at school, or some other aspect of my life.
These thoughts are not positive ones. Although perfectionism can seem to make everything better and more organized, it has been proven to be detrimental to your wellbeing in the long run.
So how can you overcome perfectionism and live a happier and more successful life? These are five tips that I have used myself to control my perfectionist thoughts.
1. Keep a List of Your Successes
This is the first tip because it's such a simple one to follow but it's also beneficial in multiple ways. The first way it's beneficial is that there is a strong correlation between anxiety and perfectionism and creating a list of not only things you need to do, but things you have already done, will make you instantly feel more at ease.
Another way creating a list of your successes will help with your perfectionism is that it reminds you all of the different tasks you've successfully completed. (And I bet that's way more than you think!) That way, if you feel as if you're failing at a new task, you can look back on all of the tasks you have completed perfectly and remind yourself that you are more than capable.
2. Try to Figure Out Why You Are a Perfectionist
This next tip is different for everyone. Personally, I am the extreme perfectionist I am today thanks to my my sophomore year of high school, when I slacked off and found it messed up my grades and mental stability. You might have experienced something like this, or your perfectionism could have to do with how you were raised, or something that happened to you in childhood.
Being able to establish why you are a perfectionist can help you become more self aware. Furthermore, it can help you identify your own triggers and problem areas and potentially help you figure out how to stop these same feelings from coming back into your mind. Knowledge is power, and self-knowledge is key to beating perfectionism.
3. Take a Step Back
Taking a step back is generally a good idea in any kind of situation. When it comes to perfectionism, however, this is an amazing tip because it will allow you to gather your thoughts and figure out whether your thoughts and actions are actually logical.
For example, perhaps you're finishing a really important project that you've already gone over six times but you're scared it's not good enough and you won't submit it. Taking a step back will help you realize that you've done your best, you've put in tons of work, and now you're letting perfectionism stand in your way. Sometimes you just need some perspective to notice when you're acting irrationally.
4. Realize That You Are Doing Your Best
A quote that I have recently started telling myself is "YOUR best and THE best are not always the same thing." This might sound defeatist, but it's not. It's a recognition that I should strive for my own personal best at all times, regardless of outside measures of success.
Perfectionism tells us that "Oh, you could've done this better" or "Oh, you should've studied that more." However, sometimes that's simply not the case. The project you're working on might not be your strong suit, or you might still have a lot to learn in your chosen area. That's when you have to realize that you have done the best that YOU personally can and not get too upset with the outcome. Trying YOUR best is what matters, in the end.
5. Accept Whatever the End Result Is
This ties into the previous tip. You have to stop when you know you've done your best. After that, you need to learn to accept whatever the end result is. Maybe you studied for 10 hours for a Math test and still only scored a 76 percent on it. This can be really upsetting, especially for people like me who love to prepare and know every single thing beforehand.
However, if you know that you prepared as best you could, it's important that you not be too hard on yourself. Instead, you can take your disappointment and work on figuring out how to improve in the future. For instance, you could reach out to your professor, attend office hours, or maybe try a new way of outlining material. You can always level up to a new version of "your best" the next time around, but beating yourself up for not being "perfect" will only hinder your progress.
How do you deal with perfectionism?
Do you struggle with perfectionist tendencies? How do you stop being a perfectionist? Do you have any tips you follow to deal with your perfectionist thoughts? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.