6 Strategies to Overcome Perfectionism in Everyday Life
- Deliberately fail: Have you heard of the rejection game? In the rejection game, to fail is to win. Players put themselves in low-pressure situations in which they are likely to receive a “no” in order to get used to the feeling – like asking for a sample of a burger at a fast–food restaurant, a discount off a Starbucks coffee, or if you can swap jackets with a stranger. (Just be careful of situations in which you receive a yes! Make sure you are in situations in which you are genuinely ok with a yes OR no outcome.)
- Put yourself in environments in which you can’t fail: This happens when you put yourself in situations where you are required to take yourself less seriously. Thankfully, everything isn’t work or school in life – consider checking out an improv or art class in which you’re encouraged to create without any particular goal or deadline.
- Develop routines that signal focus and success: Some people have their lucky socks – what could you do to signal when it’s time to focus in? Twyla Tharp writes in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life: “A pro golfer may walk along the fairway chatting with his caddie, his playing partner, a friendly official or scorekeeper, but when he stands behind the ball and takes a deep breath, he has signaled to himself it’s time to concentrate. A basketball player comes to the free-throw line, touches her socks, shorts, receives the ball, bounces it exactly three times and then she is ready to rise and shoot, exactly as she’s done a hundred times a day in practice. By making the start of the sequence automatic, they replace doubt and fear with comfort and routine.” You can read more about this in the Forbes article “How To Stop Perfectionism From Running Your Life”.
- Practice the feeling of having someone else make a decision for you: Next time you go out to eat, choose a movie to see, or find yourself with an opportunity to add input, consider letting a friend make a recommendation and then follow their lead. If someone else decides, you can’t worry about if you’ve made the right choice and this is the feeling you’re looking for – finding the perfect font, or the perfect lunch isn’t always worth the effort. Some things can be enjoyed just as they are.
- Take away the “shoulds”: Many people inform themselves with “shoulds” in life – I should be married by now, I should get promoted next month, I should win the local baking competition, I should be working tonight instead of going to this birthday party. Write down the most important things in your life and know that as long as you’ve got the basics covered, you’ll be OK. You don’t need to take home another trophy as long as you keep these basics covered each week.
- Write down and celebrate what you have accomplished: Take some time each week to acknowledge and celebrate what you have accomplished instead of focusing on what is still yet to come.