Pathways to Wellness

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Give up on perfection

Having high standards is one thing – being a perfectionist is quite another.

Striving to meet new and realistic goals, taking steps to reach your full potential, and learning from mistakes builds a sense of accomplishment, which is a cornerstone of positive mental well-being. 

You know you’ve crossed the line from high standards to perfectionism when:

  • The goals you set are too high and impossible to reach
  • Nothing you do is ever good enough by your standards
  • You believe mistakes are a sign of failure, rather than an opportunity for learning

Perfectionism is a personality style which takes away from the joy of life.  It’s been linked to depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms of stress like headaches and sleep problems.  It can create relationship problems – it’s hard to live or work with a perfectionist.  And, in a sad twist of fate, striving for perfection can actually result in poorer performance.  How does that work?

Perfectionists may be so concerned about not making the grade that they put off getting things done, spend too much time on things that don’t matter that much, or avoid  taking on new challenges.

If striving for perfection is getting in your way, here are some things you might try:

  • Be kind to yourself and change the way you think.  For example, swap “if I make a mistake, no one will respect me” for “everyone makes mistakes.”
  • Be realistic about what you can do.  Set goals that force you to stretch but can be reached through effort, practice, and new learning.
  • Limit how much time you spend on tasks or projects.  Ask yourself whether what you’ve done is “good enough.”
  • Use mistakes or negative feedback as an opportunity for new learning.
  • Remember your world will not end if you are not perfect! 

Listen to Dr. Christine Carter talk about how you can give up perfection and create more happiness for you and your children.


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