How to Overcome Perfectionism

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Location: Ios, Greece

Overcoming Perfectionism

Are you one? A perfectionist?

I was never that bad. Not until it came to blogging, at least. Perhaps it’s because this is something I really care about so every detail always needs to be on point, which makes things impossible sometimes. People have told me that being a perfectionist is a good thing, and I guess in some ways, it is. There’s a great attention to detail with everything you do and you don’t ever settle. There is a healthy version of perfectionism, but I’m talking about when it gets taken to the extreme that it becomes dangerous. It’s when you aim for high standards at the expense of everything, from your relationships to your health.

The core of perfectionism is not to do your best. It’s not about self-improvement, it’s about trying to earn approval and acceptance from others.

When you take a risk, your self-worth is on the line, and stakes are always set extremely high. Being a perfectionist is anxiously staying up all night because of finicky details that have been left undone, or it’s choosing something perfect over progress.  It means you’re always focusing on what’s wrong, instead of focusing on what’s going well and building on that. Your best is never good enough and you’re programmed to find the flaws in your own work.

Did you know most people that suffer with perfectionism also deal with anxiety? It does make sense. Perfectionism hinders your productivity and growth, which leads to procrastination and self-doubt, which then leads to anxiety and depression. It’s sort of like a downward spiral.

It’s almost ironic to think a big downside to being a perfectionist is procrastination.

Why? Because a perfectionist tends to conjure up an immaculate vision of how things should be and wont settle for anything less. You start to obsess over everything and become weighed down by every problem. Over time, the frustration of such intricate attention becomes too much, which subsequently leads to putting it off. You can’t progress or move forward.

Being a blogger means I’m in a creative line of work and constantly being compared to others, which is quite the challenge when you’re dealing with perfectionism. Really though, I feel like my anxiety levels have reached an all time high this past year. But it’s also taught me A LOT about dealing with the pressures, and that’s what I want to share with you. If you feel a constant pressure to be perfect – with anything in life – I hope these tips can help you too.

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Focus on progress

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

This quote has always seemed to resonate with me because I understand how much my need to be perfect has hindered so many potential opportunities. Every single time I’ve found myself at a wall, whether it be writers block, procrastination, or starting something new, I’ve come back to this quote and shifted my focus towards progress. The progress that happens each and every day, with each and every workout, and each and every blog post. Focus on the journey, the steps along the path, instead of the destination.

I used to put off things until the last minute because I was obsessed with making it just right. I think most of us are obsessed with instant gratification and sacrifice improvement over a chance at more. So let’s try a different approach. Focus your efforts on small steps, on small improvements, every single day, instead of focusing solely on the need to be perfect straight away. Celebrate every little victory. Real success doesn’t come overnight. A few examples of this?

Amazon: It launched in 1994, but only incorporated book reviews in 1996, and CD’s came in 1998. Oh and they didn’t make any profits in the first seven years.

Pinterest: Took 4 years for anything to happen & almost went bankrupt. It only gained 200 users in the first 4 months.

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Stop Comparison

Comparing your work, your results, your appearance and your life with others will NEVER work out in your favour. It will only leave your feeling inferior. The best thing blogging has taught me is that everyone is unique and they bring a new set of skills to the table. Everyone has something unique to offer. And this is relevant to life outside the blogging world too. Your set of skills, strengths and weaknesses are completely different from another persons, so how can you possibly compare them? It doesn’t make the other person inadequate, it just makes each person unique.

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is like to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” – Albert Einstein

So compare yourself to yourself. Stay in your own lane. Adapt your mindset to focus on your improvements and see how far you’ve come.

Start before you’re ready

If there’s anything that has become apparent over the past year, it is to start BEFORE you are ready. Don’t wait until the perfect moment because there is never a perfect moment. Better still, don’t wait to make something perfect before you launch. If you want to start a blog, START. Don’t waste time trying to perfect everything. Once you start, then you can start gaining experience and improve whatever it is that you’re doing. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, even if you don’t know where you’re going to land.

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Look at the big picture

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

Perfectionism thrives in the minute. It picks apart faults and imperfections in every little part of your work. It makes you stress over something as small as what font to use in an email. By looking at the bigger picture, we can avoid hovering over the little cracks. Ask yourself if what you’re stressing over will really affect the overall goal. It’s better to get something done, than to leave it unfinished.

When I redesigned Sunday Chapter, I was so particular about every single detail that it almost drove me insane. I’m fairly certain my web designer wanted to stab me with a knife…? But anyway, the point is, don’t lose yourself too much over the small details. In most cases, you’re the only one who will notice.

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Wearing: ASOS Shorts, Factorie Top (sold out, similar here & here), Forever 21 Sandals (sold out, similar here)

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SO. What are your thoughts on this? Perfectionism is something I’m definitely still struggling with. It’s a hard trait to ditch but I’m a work in progress. Is perfectionism something you deal with or have in the past? Please share your tips – they’re always best!
  • Great article! I think perfectionism can slow you down, but it can also speed you up. I like to think that it is ok to be a perfectionist about ONE thing in your life. I like to be perfectionistic with my blog but that means that I have to realize I can’t put just as much time and energy in other things in my life, like excersicing or meeting with friends. When you are perfectionistic about everything you will drive yourself crazy – so balancing it will do just fine I think.

    • I definitely agree with you. There is healthy perfectionism – when you love something so much (such as your blog!) you make sacrifices & put all your efforts into it. The perfectionism I was dealing with was a little more extreme – it hindered so much growth and opportunities for my blog, and eventually made me feel awful because nothing was ever good enough… if that makes sense haha. Thanks so much for your thoughts Yvonne! Love hearing them xx

      • Understand! Perfectionism in that way definitely is the worst thing to deal with. Glad you can balance it better now! Your blog is looking quite perfect already haha!

  • Love this! I’m totally a perfectionist, but I try to adopt the ‘progress over perfection’ mantra where I can. Making everything perfect is what every bone in my body aches for but sometimes you have to just say ‘no, I have to just MOVE’.

    Anna
    http://thecornishlife.co.uk

    • You sound like me! It’s so true, sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and move forward even when it kills every part of me haha! Thanks so much for your comment Anna xx

  • I absolutely agree with you!
    Being perfect shouldn’t be the goal. It’s just simly impossible for a human being. I’ve dropped my blog and started it again a few times because I tried to make each post perfect, while it was bringing me less and less pleasure and fun. So at the moment I’m just trying to overcome perfectionism and just enjoy the ride:)

    BarbarianMe.tumblr.com

    • Couldn’t agree more! I’ve been there many times. I can’t count the amount of blog posts I’ve deleted! Just took a look at your blog & love it! You should be really proud :) Thanks for reading Yulia xx

  • Amber Holyoake

    I can totally relate, it’s hard when you won’t settle for anything less than the best, but often the best takes so much more time and effort than you have to spare. I work full time so end up having some really late nights working on my blog and social media, but I hate publishing something that I’m not 100% happy with!
    It’s so true that comparison is the thief of joy too!
    Amber | http://www.wethelostgirls.com/

    • I remember working & being at uni whilst working on my blog. All those late nights are worth it in the end! Love your blog by the way :) xx

  • This is such an amazing post! I’m absolutely loving your blog at the moment! x

    http://www.abeautyromance.com
    http://www.abeautyromance.com

    • Aww thank you SO much, that means the world to me xx

  • wonderful post! It is so hard to be a perfectionist. Expecting everything to be just so. Love your outfit! Stunning pictures!

    • Thank you so much! I’m so happy you could relate xx

  • This is a brilliant post! I think so many people will relate, if not everyone, as I feel there’s part of everyone that feels the need to be a perfectionist! This post almost feels like it has described the parts of me that I find annoying, especially comparing myself to others and the need to wait for the perfect moment, but really every moment should feel perfect. I’m definitely going to have to come back to this post time and time again!!

    elwillmer.blogspot.co.uk
    xx

    • Thank you so much! I couldn’t agree more – I think we’re all perfectionists in some way when it comes to something we care about. Comparison really is the thief of joy! Thanks for your thoughts Ellie :) xx

  • Love your outfit and this post.

    http://www.bigdreamerblog.com

  • I don’t think perfectionism is something you ever get rid of – at least not completely. I honestly think it’s just something you’re born with or not born with and you can try using coping mechanisms but it never fully goes away. I would say another tip is realising that you can’t be good or successful at absolutely everything. I certainly came to this realisation before I started Little Darling Life. I wanted to be a successful blogger with followers aplenty, much like many others that get into blogging. But I also knew that I couldn’t dedicate the time and effort that it takes to achieve that result. I agree with what Yvonne says below – put your perfectionist energy into one thing and don’t be in competition with yourself all the time. x

    Little Darling Life

    • I agree, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of my perfectionist traits but I’m working towards making them healthier. And it’s true, we all have our strengths & weaknesses. For something like blogging you have to make a lot of sacrifices & if you go into it for success & followers, I don’t think you’ll ever have it. Your blog is lovely – I wish you all the best with it :) and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! xx

      • I definitely agree with your point regarding blogging. You get out of it what you put in. And I really do look at it as a hobby now rather than preoccupying myself with numbers and equating that to success. I have a long way to go with getting my blog to where I want it to be. You have come such a long way since starting Sunday Chapter! Your photography is great and you are one of the few blogs I check out on a regular basis. So keep doing what you’re doing! x

        • Aw thank you SO much! That means the world to me! xx

  • Katy

    I LOVE this post. A fellow teacher has always called me a perfectionist. I knew he meant that I wanted things to be perfect, but I think what he was really trying to tell me was calm down. It’s ok. Awesome post.
    littlewhitedeskwritings.wordpress.com

    • Oh I get that ALL the time haha! Thanks so much for reading Katy! xx

  • Beautiful and sensitive post, there is a lot of wisdom in this article ! Sophiexx
    http://www.nobletandem.com

    • Aw thank you so much! You are so sweet :) xx

  • Oh I’m seriously struggling with perfectionism at the moment. Can’t start anything and when I do I’m never happy with it anyway so I’m just not seeing the point. I’m trying to just take things as they come. Eat the elephant as my mam says, ‘cos you can’t eat an elephant all in one go haha. Not that I’d eat an elephant anyway but that’s how the saying goes apparently… :P

    Amber Love Blog

  • As someone with a serious case of perfectionism mixed with procrastination, this post is so motivating! Thank you so much for sharing :)

    Akino | akinokiki.blogspot.ca

    • All perfectionists tend to be procrastinators unfortunately! But I’m so happy I could motivate you in some way :) Thanks so much for reading Kiki! xx

  • Olga Milshtein

    Hello Angela! I have a question for you. I surfed your blog two days ago, I like it! And could not find information about Italian and Australian shoes brand, I found sale and good shoes on your page, but my internet broke and I lost this information, please write it. Thank you. It is big problem find good not expensive shoes in Melbourne.

    • Hi Olga, I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean? I don’t think I’ve written a post about an Italian & Australian shoes brand. Perhaps it could’ve been in one of my outfit posts? xx

      • Olga Milshtein

        Yes, it was not a post about shoes, you bought just some black sandals or something like that and added information what shop it was. Now this shop have a good sale, unfortunately I did not safe this link.

  • I love this article. Thank you for sharing. I have such a love-hate relationship with the term “perfectionist.” It sounds so self-important and conceded, but I hate to admit that I am too much of a perfectionist. It’s become a major flaw of mine and can be debilitating at times in my inability to complete a project. I’ve only recently just started embracing my flaws so I can move past my negative perfectionist thoughts.