3 Ways to Break Your Perfectionism Habit

by Valorie Burton

Do you keep putting off goals because the timing isn’t just right? Is it difficult to end any project because you’re still putting the finishing touches on it? Do your family or co-workers accuse you of being impossible to please?

You know where this is going. You’re a perfectionist. In a coy sort of way, you’re proud of it. You call it being “thoughtful,” “conscientious,” “excellent at what you do.” You may be all of those things, but sometimes you are also “anxious,” “stressed,” and “perpetually dissatisfied.”

Perfectionists are more likely to put off making a decision. They procrastinate. And they are less happy than those who have high standards, but who aren’t obsessed with perfection. If you aren’t careful, perfectionism can cause you to miss the journey as you focus exclusively on the destination. If this sounds like you, try these three strategies to reign in your perfectionism habit:

1. Focus on Progress, not Perfection

Get a clear sense of the purpose in everything you do. Then it will be easier to know which things deserve that extra time to get things “just right,” and which things don’t.

2. Set your minimum standard, and stop when you meet it.

Today, we are bombarded with more choices and options than ever before. It can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of trying to make every choice the perfect choice, but research shows that people who do this are more anxious and less content. Whether you are deciding what to order off the menu or which new television to buy, get clear about your minimum standards – and once you find an answer that meets those minimum standards, choose it.

Stop searching for more options. In his book, The Paradox of Choice, professor and psychologist Dr. Barry Schwartz refers to people who use this strategy as “satisficers” – and they are generally happier and more successful.

Those who keep looking, comparing, and fruitlessly searching for the most perfect solution are called “maximizers.” Even after they make their choice, they often second guess and wonder if they could have done better. Save yourself the stress and start satisficing.

3. If you must perfect something, perfect your top priority

If you are a hard core perfectionist, get clear about your top priority. Give yourself permission to perfect that, but refuse to give extra time trying to perfect the things that do not top your priority list. After all, if you’re going to get one thing just right, make sure it’s the thing that has the most impact.

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated to helping people get unstuck and be unstoppable in every area of life. She is founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute and has served as a Certified Personal and Executive Coach to hundreds of clients in over 40 states and ten countries. She has authored 8 books including: Successful Women Think Differently, and Your 5-minute Personal Coach. Visit Valorie’s website: ValorieBurton.com


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