Do you feel like you’re never good enough at what you do?
Do you often put off finishing papers or projects, waiting to get them just right?
Do you feel you have to give 110 percent on everything or else you’re a failure or people will think less of you?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, wanting to be perfect may keeping you from living a happy, fulfilling life. Instead of working toward realistic goals, you may be setting goals that are impossible to reach.
Perfectionism is often mistaken as desirable or even necessary for success. However, people who have perfectionist tendencies often get in their own way—perfectionism can actually take away your feelings of personal satisfaction and cause you to achieve far less than those who have more realistic expectations.
Maybe you learned as a child that other people valued you because of what you did or achieved. As a result, your self-esteem may be based on what others think of you or on external standards of good or bad, like the grade you earned on your test. This way of thinking can lead to the problem of perfectionism.
There are a number of beliefs and patterns of thinking that are associated with perfectionism:
Perfectionist thinking creates a vicious cycle in which you fear criticism and then create high standards to avoid it. The more impossible it is to reach your goals, the more you criticize yourself for failing to attain them. And the more you criticize yourself, the worse you feel about yourself. So how do you break the cycle?
Start by setting goals for yourself that are attainable, manageable—and healthy. Below are eight solid strategies that can help keep your perfectionist thinking in check.
After you try these strategies, consider talking with a counselor at the Counseling Center if your perfectionism remains unmanageable or you need help resetting your standards. A counselor can help you turn your perfectionism into healthier ways of thinking and feeling.