Managing Your Perfectionist Tendencies

Managing your Perfectionist Tendencies is an important life skill,.Are you a perfectionist? There’s nothing wrong with wanting things in your life just so, wanting things beautiful, wanting everything done right, and wanting to work hard to achieve great goals. Each of us has our own view of what is perfect, but there is no overall standard for it. Holding ourselves to perfectionism as we see it can be detrimental to our own health and insisting on our own standard can be detrimental to our relationships with others. Managing your perfectionist tendencies can be an important life skill.

High Standards and Reality

Yes, high standards for yourself in every area of your life are good. You don’t want low standards to live by, but you cannot set high standards and expect perfectionism from each of them. There isn’t a perfect life – or even a perfect job or a perfect mate. Looking perfect or behaving perfectly are unrealistic. Things don’t happen perfectly.

Set high standards but don’t make their achievement be the ultimate measure of your sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. Learn how to re-evaluate those standards as needed to allow for small imperfections and flexibility. Consider that striving for perfection can mean you don’t realize many of the goals or plans you desire because you spend so much time and energy that it decreases what you can do.

Pressure and Perfectionism

If you believe that things must be just so, done this way, or appear that way, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. For example, if you cannot leave your home without everything being put away and all things looking perfectly clean, you might put a lot of pressure on yourself if you’re already running late.

If you take the time to clean up, you could be late for work, the kids could be late for school, and you could be so stressed as you are driving that you ruin your morning and theirs. Are those possible outcomes worth the clean house? Making choices with a larger perspective is important.

Mental Health and Perfectionism

You’ll drive yourself crazy if you want things perfect and don’t allow any room for mistakes. In fact, your own mental and emotional health can be affected with depression, anxiety and other impacts of stress. And you’ll damage relationships with people around you too.

4 Tricks to Keep Perfectionism in Check on a Daily Basis

Here are some tips to help in managing your perfectionist tendencies on a daily basis: 

  1. Prioritize

Perfectionists often spend far too much time trying to perform even mundane tasks perfectly. Take some time to consider what in your life you feel most strongly about being the highest quality. Then try to let go of other things as being subject to the ‘perfect’ requirement.

As you look at your daily activities, make decisions about when to do them and how much time to spend on them based on that assessment. Prioritize the most important things. This can decrease pressure and increase your satisfaction.

  1. Take Mistakes in Stride

If you’re a perfectionist, making a mistake can feel crippling and derail your productivity for the rest of the day. Practice taking your mistakes in stride and seeing them as opportunities to learn something for the future. Rather than dwelling on and feeling badly about it, focus on the future and how to avoid the mistake or improve the next time.

  1. Take a Perspective Break

Next time you find yourself panicking over a small detail that isn’t perfect or stressed about all you have to do perfectly that day, take a step back and give yourself a ‘perspective break.’ Simply ask yourself how important a task really is. By forcing yourself to assess its importance, you’ll be able to recognize when you’re obsessing over less important tasks and save time for working on the things that actually matter.

  1. Get a Friend’s Take

Another way to keep your tasks and problems in perspective is to ask a friend for their take on things. If you’re convinced that your room just doesn’t look right no matter how you arrange it, for example, ask a friend what they think. Their comments can show you if it’s your inner perfectionist speaking or what could be changed for a better result. This can make it easier to realize when the detail you’re stuck on simply isn’t a big deal or give you helpful input.

  1. Hold Yourself Accountable with Kindness

There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence, but if that comes at a cost to sanity or self-esteem, it is not worth it. Staying kind and understanding about your own flaws and inconsistencies is key to sharing that generosity of spirit with others.

Replace your harsh and demeaning thoughts and self-talk when things aren’t ‘perfect’ with positive reinforcements. Give yourself a break by looking back at your track record of successes instead of the shortcomings. This can encourage you as you continue managing your perfectionist tendencies to make your life and relationships more enjoyable and fulfilling.

If you want to do more work in this area, I recommend this journal. The Perfectionism Journal is new in spring of 2022 and provides prompts, exercises and room for reflections. Check it out to see if it will be a tool for you.


I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.


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Does Perfection Slow Down Accomplishment?

As I look at the early framework of my business plans for the 3rd quarter of the year, it looks exciting. When I look at the individual projects on that list and what it will take to get them done in a high quality way (perfection), I am overwhelmed! Am I crazy to think I can really do all of that and do it well, along with the rest of my life? Is accomplishment of all this possible?

Then the gift came. A Facebook friend and mentor posted a link to an article: “It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done” by Tim Herrera. I read it and feel more hopeful and confident that with this approach I can accomplish a great deal.

Of course, it’s one thing to read an article and quite another to incorporate what you read into daily thoughts and actions. This article provided some clear concepts that I can remember (probably assisted by posting them by my desk as reminders).

Tools That Move Us Forward

Herrera writes of the M.F.D. – Mostly Fine Decision which he describes as the “minimum outcome you’re willing to accept.” He notes that the approach assists us with making decisions and getting things done – and that people who practice this are generally more satisfied with their accomplishments.

Sounds appealing to me! However, how does that happen? Thankfully Herrara offers two strategies to help: the “magic of micro-progress” and “reframe how you think about things you have to do”:

“First, embrace the magic of micro-progress: Rather than looking at tasks, projects or decisions as items that must be completed, slice them into the smallest possible units of progress, then knock them out one at a time. …

“Second, reframe the way you think about the things you have to do. Focus far less on the end result, and far more on the process — this allows you to be aware of the progress you’re making, rather than obsessing over the end result of that progress.”

Although there’s still a thread of perfectionism in me, I am more and more convinced that this kind of approach is a good one. One verification of this came when I realized how quickly I consume articles, books, training, and other things. I am not looking for every detail to be exquisite – I want the main points, I want clarity, I want to be able to follow the thoughts and I want to be able to implement it if that is appropriate.

As I tack up the reminders (M.F.D., Micro-Progress, Focus on the Process More Than the End Result) near my desk, I note that this can work only if I have done the detailed planning first. I need to make sure I have goals broken down into projects into tasks, etc., for this to work. So I will tackle that first for my current top priorities.

I invite you to check out the entire article and see if the approach will work for you and your life!