It’s important to hold yourself to high standards, but when taken to the extreme, expecting nothing but the best from ourselves can morph into perfectionism, which, despite its advantages, can undermine morale and wellbeing. If you exhibit perfectionist behaviors, here are five ways to deal with them.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals that aren’t doable is the primary mistake perfectionists make that can trigger anxiety and even depression. For instance, given my below average height and terrible basketball skills, a goal to join the NBA next year is totally unworkable. Such a goal will not only fail, but will leave me dejected.

The lesson to remember here is to set reasonable goals, and when you reach them, raise the bar. And if you don’t realize your goal, rather than chastising yourself, embrace the lessons you learned along the way and how falling short of your goal has helped you improved. Progress trumps perfection. So, as long as you are progressing, you are on the right track.

Try Negative Visualization

Visualization or mental rehearsal involves forming a clear mental picture of our desired goal. While it is essential to visualize ourselves achieving your goal as clearly as possible, it’s also vital we create mental images of us failing to reach our objective. This process known as negative visualization, popularized by the Stoics, is also called a premortem. According to psychologist Gary Klein, in a premortem, you must envision what could go wrong—what will go wrong—in advance. That simple exercise can enable you to make more informed decisions and quash your perfectionist tendencies to get better prepared to cope with failure if it happens.

Practice Humility

Being humble is acknowledging and accepting our imperfections. Humility will enable you to challenge your black-and-white perception of reality, combat perfectionism, and develop self-confidence.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Perfectionism could also stem from comparing ourselves to others. It’s impossible not to self-deprecate when we are constantly exposed to people’s glamorous lives on social media. Studies have shown that comparison leads to low self-esteem, which is linked to depression. It’s a pity most people spend their precious times admiring and coveting others while overlooking their blessings. Oscar Wilde’s quote “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” is worth committing to memory.

Life is both a journey and a destination. Bachir Bastien

See Life as a Journey and a Destination

Overcoming perfectionism is about espousing a goal-oriented and process-oriented mindset. Knowing that the process is as important as the destination will help you defeat perfectionism by the willingness to experiment with novel ideas in the face of uncertainty.


What are you going to do to cope with your perfectionism? Let us know in the comments below.