How to overcome perfectionism + stop it from holding you back in your business

 

Do you subscribe to the idea of perfection?

I don’t.

Perfectionism - and its best buds fear, comparison, self-doubt + overwhelm - is the single biggest thing that’s holding you back in your creative business.

And after a lifetime of pursuing perfectionism, you have a sneaking suspicion its time is up.

But how to go about leaving behind that constant need for things to be perfect? How do you overcome your perfectionism, both in business AND in your personal life too?

Sit back, my friend, because this in-depth guide has *all* the answers.

Here’s what we’re going to be working through in this guide:

 

/ 1 /

We’re going to debunk all those myths that are going around about perfectionism and that probably have you scared to let go or stuck and unable to move forward.

/ 2 /

After debunking these myths and having talked about what perfectionism ISN’T, we’re going to get real clear about what perfectionism is (and I’m going to get vulnerable here!).

 

/ 3 /

Next, we’re going to dig deep into the 2 core areas that are the birthplace of perfectionism and get an understanding of why letting go of perfectionism is so difficult.

/ 4 /

Then it’s time to start working on 4 long-term strategies that will kickstart your journey of overcoming perfectionism.

 

/ 5 /

And finally, I’m going to share 4 practical action steps you can use to combat a bout of perfectionism in the moment, when you’re doing some work and the perfectionism bug strikes.

 
 

Woah, so much good stuff here!

But before we dive in, I want to make sure you grab your copy of my “4 steps to ditch perfect” workbook that accompanies this guide. Enter your email address + click the button below to download your workbook, so that you can follow along with this guide with the workbook in hand.

 
Ditch Perfect workbook
 

Everything set? Workbook in hand? Good! Let’s dive in.

Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection
 

There’s a very persistent and dangerous about what perfectionism is and this misunderstanding is perpetuated in the media and in popular culture.

In most magazine articles and TV sitcoms, a perfectionist character is portrayed as someone who is diligent, detail-oriented, conscientious, uptight, and overly organized. Basically, the Monica Gellers (remember Friends?) of the world.

But here’s the thing: that’s not the definition of perfectionism.

To be able to overcome your perfectionism, you first need to be clear on what perfectionism exactly is and what it isn’t.

So, let’s get to it.


What perfectionism is NOT

/ 1 / Perfectionism is not a superpower

You tend to think that being a perfectionist is like having a special superpower and that, if only you could put that superpower to use, you’d be successful and noticed and appreciated.

But that’s a total myth.

Perfectionism will not get you ahead in business. In fact, it’s the opposite of a superpower: it keeps you small and stagnant.

/ 2 / Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence

Striving for excellence isn’t what perfectionism is about.

Striving for excellence would mean focusing on personal growth and healthy achievement. How can I improve? What are my goals?

When you’re striving for excellence, you have a clear vision and goals in mind and you steadfastly work toward that vision and those goals.

Instead, being a perfectionist means you’re focused on the other and trying to win their approval. What will they think? Will they like me? Will they think my effort is good enough?

There’s a difference between healthy striving, which is internally motivated, and perfectionism, which is externally motivated.

Next time you think “I need this to be perfect!”, ask yourself why.

Usually, the answer is:

  • that you’re scared that a client or customer won’t like you or even reject you;

  • that you think your effort won’t be good enough; or

  • that you fear failure, disapproval, making mistakes, and/or being criticized.

/ 3 / Perfectionism is not the key to success

Perfectionism is also NOT the key to any kind of success, by any measure. It doesn’t help you achieve your goals.

Wouldn’t that be great, though, that perfectionists are more successful than others? Well... keep on dreaming, girlfriend!

Because perfectionism doesn’t help you achieve your goals. In fact, it holds you back and hinders achievement.

How many times have you not done something you actually wanted to do, because knowing that you weren’t going to be perfect (or even good) at it right from the start made you anxious?

I know I have. For the longest time, I didn’t sign up for drawing class because I couldn’t bear the thought of other people seeing my work.

/ 4 / Perfectionism is not a collection of personality traits

The biggest myth out there is that perfectionism is a collection of personality traits, like being type A, having an eye for detail, being very organized etc.

I don’t blame you for falling for this myth. It’s how perfectionism is portrayed in popular culture. It’s how we talk to each other.

“She’s so type A, she’s such a perfectionist!”

“Stop fussing over details, you’re such a perfectionist!”

What’s so dangerous about this myth is that it makes you believe that to let go of your perfectionism means having to let go of being type A or of being organized. And that causes anxiety. (It would for me!)

No wonder you’re so stuck in perfectionism. No wonder you’re so conflicted about overcoming your perfectionism.


The definition of perfectionism: what is perfectionism?

Enough with the myths and misunderstandings. This is what perfectionism *really* is.

Perfectionism is a fear-based response to insecurity and uncertainty.

Perfectionism is fear-based behavior. It’s a thought pattern that goes like this:

 

If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect, I am in control and therefore people can’t hurt me or see me for who I really am.

 

That feeling of control you think perfectionism gives you? What you’re really trying to control is how people perceive you or the work you do. But you can’t make other people like you. You can’t control perception.

Again, perfectionism is about being concerned about making mistakes and worrying about what other people think.

You’re not a born perfectionist. You’ve pressured yourself or feel (real or perceived) outside pressure to become a perfectionist. Usually out of fear and anxiety.

5 signs that you’re a perfectionist

Okay... now that we’ve defined what perfectionism is, we can untangle this false belief that perfectionism is a collection of personality traits - like type A, attention to detail, and being very organized - even further.

Here are 5 signs that you’re a perfectionist. Hint: it’s not what you might think!

/ 1 / False belief about perfectionism: you’re diligent and conscientious. Actual sign of perfectionism: you’re constantly second-guessing yourself

You’re a perfectionist because you can’t stop second-guessing. You’re probably also bothered by its obnoxious second cousins ‘overthinking’ and ‘indecisiveness’.

When you’re rocking your talent of being conscientious, sometimes perfectionism creeps in: “Am I missing something?“ or “Should I do it more like this?”. This usually happens when you’re working on an important project and you start to feel uncertain about if you were really diligent enough and you wonder if you should’ve done more.

When you find yourself thinking in terms of ‘enough’, that’s when you know you’re treading dangerous perfectionism waters.

BEING DILIGENT AND CONSCIENTIOUS IS YOUR TALENT. WHEN YOU’RE SECOND-GUESSING, THAT’S WHEN PERFECTIONISM IS RUNNING THE SHOW.

/ 2 / False belief about perfectionism: you have a keen eye for detail. Actual sign of perfectionism: you can’t let go

You’re a perfectionist because you just can’t let go. Paying attention to details is a great talent to have. It sets you apart from others.

But when you’re so focused on #allthedetails, trying to make sure that you’ve handled every little detail and not letting go before it’s perfect, that’s dangerous perfectionism territory.

This holding tight to the idea of perfection is what’s actually standing in your way. It’s what keeps you stifled and unable to move. It just sucks up all of your energy.

HAVING A KEEN EYE FOR DETAIL IS YOUR TALENT. WHEN YOU’RE NOT ABLE TO LET GO, THAT’S WHEN PERFECTIONISM IS RUNNING THE SHOW.

/ 3 / False belief about perfectionism: you favor quality over quantity. Actual sign of perfectionism: you’re stuck in comparison

You’re a perfectionist because you can’t stop comparing yourself and your work.

Favoring quality over quantity is a great talent to have. It becomes dangerous when you feel uncertain or insecure and you start comparing. Perfectionism is when you’re comparing yourself to other creative business owners and you’re attaching more value to their ideas, their work, and their expertise. You think their ‘quality’ is better than your ‘quality’.

The key here is to not let yourself get distracted by someone else’s shiny pennies. They aren’t perfect and don’t have things figured out as well as you think they do. Don’t underestimate yourself. Your ideas and your work are of great quality, even if they aren’t perfect.

FAVORING QUALITY OVER QUANTITY IS YOUR TALENT. WHEN YOU KEEP FALLING FOR THE COMPARISON TRAP, THAT’S WHEN PERFECTIONISM IS RUNNING THE SHOW.

 
 
Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection
 
 

/ 4 / False belief about perfectionism: you have high standards. Actual sign of perfectionism: you have unrealistic expectations

You’re a perfectionist because you have unrealistic expectations. Having high standards is a sign of motivation and self-discipline and it doesn’t mean you’re a perfectionist.

In fact, most successful people set very high standards for themselves. The punishing pursuit of perfection happens when you’re worried about mistakes… mistakes you fear you’ll be making when trying to make those high standards happen.

Although having high standards is often helpful, perfectionism is about having expectations that are so unrealistic that they actually interfere with your performance. Plus, it’s impossible to live up to those expectations.

HAVING HIGH STANDARDS (AND HOLDING YOURSELF TO THEM) IS YOUR TALENT. WHEN YOU ACT BASED ON UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS, THAT’S WHEN PERFECTIONISM IS RUNNING THE SHOW.

/ 5 / False belief: you work in a structured and organized manner. Actual sign of perfectionism: you’re a control freak

You’re a perfectionist because you have this need for control.

Many people wish they could have your talent of being structured and organized. But that’s not the same as being a control freak. A control freak is someone with a need to control other people, situations, and environments to relieve their anxiety and create a sense of security. They use their perfectionism to cover their insecurities and fears.

Are you constantly redoing things to make sure they’re absolutely perfect? Do you find yourself noticing pictures on walls that are slightly crooked and straightening them, even if it’s in someone else’s home? Do you criticize and find faults with others, but in your mind you’re always right?

The way you work - in a structured and organized manner - will lead you to excellence. Perfectionism leads you nowhere. Perfectionism is about controlling the outcome in order to receive love and acceptance. Excellence, unlike perfectionism, is about lovingly pushing yourself to act, think, relate, and create from the highest part of yourself.

WORKING IN A STRUCTURED AND ORGANIZED MANNER IS YOUR TALENT. WHEN YOU GET CAUGHT UP IN YOUR CONTROL ISSUES, THAT’S WHEN PERFECTIONISM IS RUNNING THE SHOW.

You see how this works? There’s perfectionism and there’s your innate talents. They are two separate issues. Perfectionism may take your talents hostage and abuse them for its pursuit of perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are the same thing.


6 ways your perfectionism is hurting you

You miiiight have guessed by now that perfectionism is the thing that’s standing between where you are now and where you want to be in your creative business.

But perfectionism has many (more) negative effects on you, on your body and mind. The desperate drive to be perfect in everything you do damages your life at best and kills you from stress at worst.

Here are 6 ways your perfectionism is hurting you.

/ 1 / Perfectionism raises stress levels through the roof

/ 2 / Perfectionism is highly associated with anxiety, depressions, and addiction

/ 3 / Perfectionism fuels fear, frustration, and disappointment

/ 4 / Perfectionism crushes your self-esteem

/ 5 / Perfectionism increases procrastination

/ 6 / Perfectionism decreases efficiency in making decisions

 
 
Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection
 
 

You might think that your perfectionism is what makes you strong, but in reality it eats away at you from the inside out.

2 core areas of perfectionism

We’ve been talking about this persistent misunderstanding that perfectionism is a set of personality traits. But I knew this was a myth from my own personal experience, because I knew I didn’t suddenly turn into a perfectionist once I started focusing on details or being all organized. Those things happened as a RESPONSE to my perfectionism.

We’ve also been talking about the fact that perfectionism really is a dangerous and harmful way of thinking and behaving. A coping mechanism that you use when you feel scared, insecure, uncertain, not good enough, or out of control.

But “a fear-based coping mechanism”, what does that really mean?

Let’s go a little deeper.

Here’s where I get really personal and vulnerable. I don’t do this to make this all about me, but I’m using my experiences as an example to illustrate how perfectionism works.

When I dug deep into my own history, I began to see how perfectionism had taken root in me at a young age.

As a kid, my good grades got me love and attention and praise. It was one of the very few ways to get love and attention. To me, it felt like love was conditional. Not who I was, but how I performed determined whether or not I was good enough and deserved love. That hurts! That hurts to see it written down like this.

And so, this dangerous thought pattern became the core of my belief system:

 

If my school or work performance determines whether I get love and attention or not, I better perform perfectly so that I can make sure that I never feel the pain of not getting love and attention again.

 

Being the smart girl became my identity. My talents of structure and organization and an eye for detail became my go-to ways to try and perform perfectly.

Now, this is my story and my circumstances and the topic and circumstance may be different from person to person, but what I’ve found is that the mechanism of perfectionism is the same for everyone.

What that means is this: for women, there are two core areas that are the birthplace of perfectionism:

  • appearance

  • performance

Our society and culture only views girls in one of two ways. We’re judged on our appearance and our performance. Our looks and our ability to do as we’re told. Girls are either “the pretty girl” or “the smart girl”. Nothing more.

Do you notice how both of these boxes are constructed based on outside judgments? As a society, we don’t tell girls they’re good enough as they are, but that *only* how well they perform and how good they look matters.

Which is so, so sad! I wish we could celebrate girls for how fabulous they naturally are, instead of pushing them into a box.

/ Core area 1 / Performance

So, there are two boxes, two molds for girls. I was definitely the smart girl. I bought into that smart girl persona hook, line, and sinker.

I believed the messaging:

“If you perform perfectly, you will be worthy.”

And performing perfectly means:

  • Getting good grades

  • Picking the perfect college

  • Graduating with honors

  • Getting a top notch job

If you think of yourself as a type A perfectionist, always busy busy busy, a “do more, hustle harder, work until I drop” attitude + you care for everyone else but not yourself, you most likely fall into the box of the smart girl persona.

/ Core area 2 / Appearance

The perfectionism mechanism for the pretty girl stereotype is the same as for the smart girl stereotype.

When ‘appearance’ is the core area at the root of your perfectionism, you believe that not who you are but how good you look determines whether you’re good enough and deserve love.

You believe this:

 

If my appearance determines whether I get love and attention or not, I better appear perfect so that I can make sure that I never feel the pain of not getting love and attention again.

 

And so, women who focus on the perfect appearance focus on:

  • Looking good

  • Having the perfect body

  • Healthy eating

  • Having the perfect exercise routine

  • Having the most beautiful online presence and a perfect Instagram feed

  • If they and their romantic partner look like the perfect picture from the outside, like they have the perfect relationship

  • Having their children dress perfectly

If you fall into the box of the pretty girl persona, that’s how perfectionism shows up in your life: a preoccupation with food, fitness + good looks, with at it’s core a belief of “if you look perfect, you will be worthy.”


Why overcoming perfectionism is so difficult

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: overcoming perfectionism is HARD.

Here are 3 reasons why:

/ 1 / Breaking down your go-to coping mechanism is difficult

First of all, overcoming perfectionism means slowly untangling the hold that fear has on you. To break down the coping mechanism that you’ve used for so long. And that’s difficult. It takes time and dedication.

/ 2 / Wrong view of perfectionism as a collection of personality traits is SO pervasive

What makes it even more difficult, is that this wrong view of perfectionism as a number of personality traits is so pervasive. It’s all around you. In the way you talk and the words you use. In the way it’s shown in magazines and on TV.

Because you believe that to let go of perfectionism means having to let go of being type A or of being organized, you feel stuck.

/ 3 / ‘Perfect’ is the default for describing other people

‘Perfect’ is how we describe each other. When I’m asked to say something about someone else, it’s the default, the norm to say that that person’s life looks like it’s perfect.

/ 4 / You’re rewarded for your perfectionism

Plus, you’re rewarded for your perfectionism. It starts with getting A’s in school and it ends with getting a promotion at work. You’re praised for being a perfectionist. (Too bad the only one paying the price for your perfectionism is you.)

So, having said all of that, it’s no wonder you’re so stuck in perfectionism. No wonder you’re so conflicted about letting go of it.

I’m not saying this to discourage you. Not at all. But I think it’s important to realize that:

a. You’re up against something big; and

b. Perfectionism isn’t your fault.

You’re a product of our society and our culture and the way you were raised and so is your perfectionism.


4 long-term strategies for overcoming your perfectionism

I bet you’re like “okay Wendy, you have me convinced, but how do I stop being a perfectionist? How do I overcome my perfectionism?”

No worries, I gotcha!

Let’s get to the 4 strategies to start overcoming your perfectionism, once and for all.

/ Step 1 / Understand perfectionism

I wholeheartedly believe that, only if you understand a behavior, a pattern, a habit, then you can change it. You can only change what you understand. If you truly understand what’s going on, you can make different choices.

Getting an understanding about what perfectionism is and how it shows up for you is what you’ve been doing throughout this guide (and the accompanying workbook) so far.

P.S. If you haven’t downloaded your free copy of my “4 steps to ditch perfect” workbook yet, do it now. Seriously, I’ll wait!

 
Ditch Perfect workbook
 

EDUCATE YO’SELF!

Re-read this guide. Maybe even a few times.

Work through the exercises and prompts in the workbook. Maybe even a few times

Also, go and read. Read a lot: books, blogs, magazines, whatever you can get your hands on.

Since I started my journey of overcoming perfectionism, a few books have come out that, at least partially, address the topic of perfectionism.

Start with Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect is an honest and vulnerable account of how perfectionism resulted in her hitting rock bottom. And Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar’s book The Pursuit of Perfect is full of scientific tidbits and it’s definitely worth a read.

*shameless plug alert*

Bookmark this Ditch Perfect website and get lost in the blog archives. There are dozens of blog posts, in-depth guides + resources available for you.

Other things you can do to get an understanding about perfectionism is to read psychology-based magazines. Or do some research into what scientific journals are saying about perfectionism.

Whatever works for you. But start reading. Start educating yourself.

 
ACTION ITEM: READ ABOUT PERFECTIONISM
  • Re-read this guide/blog post.

  • Dig into the Ditch Perfect archives.

  • Catch up on books and magazine articles about perfectionism.

 

DO THE WORK

And then, start doing the hard part. I don’t know what your preferred method is, whether it’s journaling or talking about it with a therapist or having a conversation with a close friend, but start doing the work.

Do some soul searching and dig deep within yourself to figure out which perfectionistic tendencies and habits you recognize in yourself and how those tendencies influence your behavior.

To do so, ask yourself this:

  • What are some inner beliefs and expectations that have led me to being a perfectionist?

  • What do I fear and/or what am I anxious about that leads to me being a perfectionist?

  • How is my perfectionism influenced by my environment, the media, role models, and outside expectations?

  • Where (and when) does my perfectionism show up the most? Is it in your business, your personal life, your hobbies or …? Does is happen when working with clients, trying out a new strategy in your business, when you’re cooking a meal or hosting a dinner party, when you’re on social media, or …?

  • I’ve shared my perfectionism story earlier in this guide, the backstory of how my perfectionism came to be. It’s hugely beneficial to write out your backstory. So, what is YOUR perfectionism story?

Realize that this is a process that can be painful and exhausting and that this soul searching may take a while. Dig deep into your backstory and your history. This may take it out of you, but it’s necessary.

I also recommend that you start keeping a daily journal, whether it’s an actual journal, a log in the notes app of your phone or laptop, or a daily conversation with your significant other.

Sit down for 10 minutes a day and reflect on the ways your perfectionism showed up that day. Write it down.

I guarantee that after examining your perfectionism for a few days or weeks, you’ll start to see patterns emerging. You’ll start to notice how your perfectionism shows up in certain parts of the day, around certain people, or in certain circumstances.

The key in taking this first step is to come to understand *your* perfectionism specifically and how it impacts your life + business. Because, my friend, if you understand it, you can rise above it.

 
ACTION ITEM: GET TO KNOW YOUR PERFECTIONISM
  • Ask yourself the hard questions.

  • Keep a daily perfectionism journal.

  • Analyze the data from your journal for patterns or possible points of change.

 

/ Step 2 / Find a healthy coping mechanism

Step 2 is to find a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with fear and anxiety. This step is about taking baby steps toward a different way of coping with fear, anxiety + that compulsive need for perfect than through perfectionism.

After step 1, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that you’ve been using perfectionism as a shield to protect you from something. From the fear of failure, for instance. Or the anxious feeling of not being good enough.

Stop doing that. However tempting, stop using perfectionism as a shield.

There are much healthier ways to help you cope, such as:

  • Enlisting the help of a coach

  • Talking to a therapist or counselor

  • Finding a creative outlet and just start creating and making

  • Getting outside, soaking in nature

  • Exercising and moving your body

  • Seeking support from others

  • Journaling about your emotions

  • Meditation

  • Relaxation exercises

Don’t expect to get it right (or heaven forbid, perfect!) in the first try.

This is where you start to try out new coping mechanisms and experiment to see what works for you. Enlist help from friends if you need to or work with a coach for more guidance and accountability.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF BACKSLIDING

When you find yourself backsliding and falling back into old behaviors of perfecting and pleasing and comparing, the first thing you want to do is take a step back. Breathe. Calm yourself down.

Then, take stock of your behavior and re-evaluate what you’re doing. It doesn’t make sense to keep on perfecting when perfection isn’t a realistic end goal.

Remind yourself of your values. For me, imperfection is a core value. When I find myself having the impulse to perfect, I recognize that I feel the emotion of fear and remind myself that I highly value imperfection and taking imperfect action. That always takes the fearful pressure off.

When you feel the urge to take it out on yourself (hello guilt trip!), because perfectionists are masters in self-criticism and self-blame, focus on self-compassion instead. Be kind to yourself and turn your regrets into lessons.

 
ACTION ITEM: A NEW COPING MECHANISM
  • Pick one coping mechanism from the list above.

  • Try it out to see if it works for you.

  • Remember that this is an experiment. Accountability and self-compassion is key.

 

/ Step 3 / Start doing new, imperfect things

The third step is to start doing things your perfectionism prevented you from doing before and doing them imperfectly.

You can do it. Start small.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. The goal of starting this activity is to have fun and not be perfect. It’s about getting your toes wet, so to speak, and make small changes in your everyday life.

Bring along an accountability partner if you want to. This might help you not slip back into your perfectionistic tendencies.

My question for you is this: What are three things or activities that you really want to start doing, but you were afraid of doing before?

 
ACTION ITEM: TAKE IMPERFECT ACTION
  • Pick one activity you’ve always wanted to do.

  • Make arrangements to start doing that thing.

 

/ Step 4 / Don’t go at it alone

The fourth and final step is short and sweet, but so, so important: don’t go at it alone.

Perfectionism can be very isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. Talk to fellow (recovering) perfectionists. Find community in the comments below this blog post. Follow along with the Ditch Perfect community on Instagram. Or team up with a friend (or coach) to be each other’s accountability buddies.

 
ACTION ITEM: DON'T GO AT IT ALONE
  • Do one thing today to reach out or find community.

 

/// /// ///

 

4 in-the-moment action steps for overcoming your perfectionism

All of this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do when you find yourself stuck in a moment of perfectionism. In the moment, in your everyday life.

A difficult conversation with a loved one. An impending deadline for a passion project you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Receiving criticism from a client about your work. These moments can make your inner perfectionist come out in full force.

It happens to the best of us, even if you’ve worked through the 4 steps and strategies above. When you start to feel this need to perfect, remind yourself that you don’t have to give in.

These are 4 simple, but very effective strategies you can use in the moment when you’re caught up in your old perfectionist ways.

/ Step 1 / ease up

The first is to ease up. You might not realize it, but the anxious, stressed-out feeling of perfectionism affects you physically.

It causes:

  • shallow breathing

  • a pit in your stomach

  • a lump in your throat

  • tightness in your shoulders, neck, and jaw

As soon as you recognize these physical symptoms, it’s important to make a conscious effort to loosen up.

I’ve found a technique called box breathing to be really effective.

Box breathing means you:

… breathe in for 4 seconds

… hold for 4 seconds

… breathe out for 4 seconds

… and sit still for 4 seconds before taking your next breath

box breathing.png
 
ACTION ITEM: BOX BREATHING
  • Do the box breathing exercise 4 times in a row.

  • This will help you ease up, both physically and mentally.

 

/ Step 2 / Write a gratitude list

The second strategy is to write a gratitude list.

The moment you feel your perfectionism creeping up on you, write a list of three things you’re grateful for in that moment. Don’t overthink it. It’s okay if your gratitude list is made up of simple or basic things you usually take for granted.

 
ACTION ITEM: GRATITUDE LIST
  • Use these prompts:
    I am grateful for …, because …
    I appreciate …

 

/ Step 3 / Write a list of achievements

The third in-the-moment strategy is to jot down a list of your achievements. If writing a gratitude list isn’t really your thing, or if you need a little extra effort, think about writing a short list of your achievements.

Every perfectionist thinks that their work isn’t good enough and that they’ll never amount to anything. But when you write a list of the things you’ve achieved, big or small, you’ll force yourself to see how flawed this thinking is.

Use this prompt to remind yourself that your achievements aren’t random, but, in fact, the result of *your* efforts:

 
ACTION ITEM: ACHIEVEMENT LIST
  • Use this prompt:
    I achieved ... because I did …

 

/ Step 4 / Use a mantra or affirmation

And finally, the fourth strategy is to use a mantra or affirmation. Repeat one of these phrases to yourself or write it down on a post-it note.

Pick one that resonates with you and that reminds you that you’re good enough:

 
ACTION ITEM: USING AFFIRMATIONS
  • Some examples:
    I am confident. I am capable. I am poised. I am strong.
    I am more than enough and exactly where I need to be right now.
    Done is better than perfect.

 

Let’s recap

Okay, that was it! Now, for a quick recap.

I’ve presented you with two sets of strategies. One to take down perfectionism at its roots and one to take down perfectionism in the moment.

The first is more of a long-term set of strategies for making lasting change:

  1. Understand perfectionism

  2. Find a healthy coping mechanism

  3. Start doing new, imperfect things

  4. Don’t go at it alone

And the other is a set of practical action steps that you can take when necessary:

  1. Ease up

  2. Write a gratitude list

  3. Write a list of achievements

  4. Use a mantra or affirmation

Arrow purple.png

Over to you, my friend. Let’s start doing the work to ditch perfect and make a perfectionism-free life happen.

If you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my “4 steps to ditch perfect” workbook to work through all of the exercises and strategies mentioned in this blog post.

 
Ditch Perfect workbook
 

LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS HOW THINGS ARE GOING FOR YOU. WHICH STEP ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT TACKLING FIRST?

 
 
 
Ditch Perfect Meet Wendy.png

Hey, Wendy here!

As a perfectionism coach, I help online creatives #ditchperfect, overcome their perfectionism + take action on the big ideas they have for their business. Let’s work together and make those ideas happen.


 

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Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection
Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection
Tired of your perfectionism holding you back in your creative work and life? This blog post answers the question ‘what is perfectionism?’ + shares 4 steps to overcoming perfectionism, so you can stop being a perfectionist in your creative business. Click through to learn more + download your free 20-page workbook. #onlinecreatives #creativeentrepreneur #recoveringperfectionist #progressnotperfection