Five Ways to Manage Perfectionism

This week on My Brain’s Not Broken, we’re talking about perfectionism. While it’s something that comes up in everyday life, perfectionism can be hard to spot, and even harder to deal with. When I was looking up how to manage and deal with perfectionism, I saw the same results as when I looked up how to manage self-doubt, which was that every article I found used terms like overcoming and get rid of when talking about perfectionism (which seems like an example of perfectionism itself). So, rather than provide tips on how to get over perfectionism, I wanted to share five ways that I try to manage my perfectionist tendencies, with the long-term goal of changing my attitude toward perfectionism.

Evaluate your personal goals and expectations of yourself

One of the biggest reasons people feel like perfectionism can be achieved is that they haven’t really evaluated what they expect from themselves. I often forget how ambitious I am with what I want to accomplish, and when I take a step back and evaluate what I expect from myself, I realize that I was never going to be able to achieve all that I set out to. Long-term, this can help us set realistic goals that don’t use up all of our energy.

Learn how to say ‘no’ more

As someone who is notoriously terrible at saying no (and always feels guilt when he does it), I know this is much easier said than done. However, I think it’s important to make sure we’re aware of how this connects to perfectionism. By saying “yes” to everything, I create more things to do and more goals to achieve, which means that I’ll inevitably fall short somewhere because – news flash – I’m human! Saying no, even to things that might not seem that time-consuming, can help us learn that our time and energy is valuable.

Remember that time off is an investment

If I had a nickel for every time I had to clear up this misconception…taking time to rest, relax and recharge isn’t ‘free time.’ It’s valuable time that every person needs to reset themselves and rest for what’s ahead. Resting is a conscious decision, and it more we can emphasize how necessary that is to our well-being, the more people can understand how important it is for them to take time for themselves.

Set your own standard

What’s that old saying – ‘comparison is the thief of joy’? It’s true in a lot of areas, but it’s one of the root causes of perfectionism. I constantly compare myself to others, and that includes comparing the standards I set for myself. When I create goals, I’m not always thinking about myself – and even though I’ thinking about others, it’s not in a realistic way. It’s important to realize that we all have our own standards and goals that are unique to us, and we should adjust what we expect from others (and ourselves!) based on who people are.

Trust that you have enough time

Look, we all feel like there’s not enough time in the day to do what we want to do. And while that may be true, a perfectionist attitude leaves us thinking that we’ll never do (or be) enough because we don’t have the time. When I think about it, I’ve often felt like I didn’t have enough time to get a certain task or goal finished in time. But if that was the case…how did I get here? I made time for it. I did have enough time, and instead of listening to the negative critic in my head that said the clock was ticking, I had no other choice but to keep pushing.

Perfectionism preys on a person thinking they’ll never be enough, but here’s the truth, friends: we already are enough and honestly, we always were. This isn’t an attitude that changes over night, but by becoming aware of how perfectionism perpetuates itself, it becomes easier to cope with and manage.


3 thoughts on “Five Ways to Manage Perfectionism

  1. tblan21 December 11, 2021 / 7:54 pm

    YESSSS. Love your take on the whole “get rid of perfectionism” vibe that I see on so many mental health blogs. I’m like, let’s not fight fire with fire… Right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan S. December 13, 2021 / 9:41 am

      Thank you! Yeah I’ve seen it on many blogs too, and I ended up just getting fed up with seeing that as the only approach – you’re totally right, why fight fire with fire? Thanks for sharing!


  2. posh at work December 26, 2021 / 11:42 am

    thanks for sharing! indeed an article to ponder upon


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