This post was most recently updated on January 6th, 2024
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
Are you a detail-oriented, meticulous, and conscientious person? How do I stop being a perfectionist?
Being a perfectionist can come at a high cost and affect your personal life, relationships, and well-being. Basically, a perfectionist is trying to make things so perfect that they become unattainable. Whether it’s spending hours on a simple subtitling task or rewriting a blog post numerous times.
I’ve worked with many people who identify themselves as perfectionists, striving for the perfect body, the perfect image, the perfect wife, the perfect employee, etc. I’ve seen that striving for perfection is destined to bring exhaustion, pain, and a sense of failure because it is unattainable. There is no checkbox or finish line. So, how do you stop being a perfectionist and honor your motivation without causing frustration?
Stop being a perfectionist by acknowledging yourself
Everyone has flaws. And your flaws are what make you likeable. It’s true! This is why I love girls like Jennifer Lawrence or Taylor Swift. Even though they’re famous and talented, they’re also normal girls who sometimes do crazy stuff at an awards show.
There’s a reason why you are striving for perfection. Maybe because you need love or lack of self-esteem. Or you needed to achieve that someone praised you at some point and that made you feel recognized and worthy. From my experience, that perfectionist behavior came from fear of getting rejected.
Perfect is intimidating. So stop being a perfectionist. You are enough. You were born enough and will always be enough. Embrace your flaws instead of being embarrassed by them. You are deserving of happiness, success, and love, regardless of the things you do or what people think about you.
As a perfectionist, this way of thinking may not be easy because you see what’s wrong before what’s right. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, why don’t you acknowledge all the things you’re doing right?
Write down things you are good at and what you like about yourself. These can be your strength, personality traits, or wins from the day. Lower your standards for yourself. Be your own best friend.
Stop being a perfectionist by switching your thoughts
Replace our perfection with something more significant. Take a look at the conversation I had with my mom, who wants me to be a successful woman.
Mom: You graduated from English literature, why did you not work as a teacher or employee in the government office?
Me: I have no passion to teach someone formally and I am not good at explaining something to people.
Mom: Then why did you choose English if you won’t become a teacher?
Me: Because I love it.
Mom: Yes, but why waste time and money to learn it?
Me: Mom, you are a tailor, right?
Me: Why are you planning to take a sewing course? Will you become the best tailor in your industry?
Mom: Of course not. I take the course because I want to use the skill in the future.
Me: Then, why do you take a course if you won’t be the best tailor?
If I keep talking to my mother, somehow she doesn’t want to admit that her way of thinking is wrong. From here, I learned that I didn’t want my children to hear this from their parents. If my children will not learn to play instruments or learn new languages, why on earth would they continue pursuing art or linguist?
My parents didn’t know about my blogging career. They realized that I always worked in front of my laptop every day because of my translation job. Instead of working from home, my mother always forced me to work in the office. I know that most of our neighbors work in the office, while I work from home. So what? I like my work and really enjoy it. I find joy, satisfaction, and purpose by writing on a blog. My mother needs to understand that her daughter loves her job and I learn life lessons that will serve my future.
Stop being a perfectionist by embracing your failure
I used to be a perfectionist when I was in college. Until I found myself in a dark place and found everything, no … fun again. Everything feels less pleasant and I can’t stand it anymore. I decided to change my lifestyle and join the student union. I met people outside my department and learned how to have fun while learning.
In the first months of translating a story from English to Indonesian, I made mistakes and was embarrassed. My manager texted me and warned me about that. As much as I love translating stories, I felt like a complete failure that time because I also work in the office and I couldn’t manage my time very well.
If you are growing, you will fail a lot in your life. You will make mistakes, and let others down. When that happens, remember that you have made a mistake, but you are not the mistake.
Stop being a perfectionist by celebrating imperfection
Do you have a role model?
Mine would be Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Valentino Rossi. Think of all the people who have overcome imperfections. Think of those who have inspired you many times.
Think about someone in your life who is perfect. Someone who has never posted a blog post with a spelling mistake or your friends who never had a pimple on their face. Someone who has never made a single mistake.
Despite what it may feel like, what you may hear, or what you may see on social media while scrolling, no one is perfect. Not even Michael Jackson. What we are is human. We are forgetful, imperfect, clumsy, and we are still loved, still beautiful.
Tell people about a time you failed. Normalize imperfections. Our ability to overcome fears or struggles can create not only inspiration but also a connection with others. You never know who you might be helping by sharing your vulnerability.
Always remember that every part of you, every stage of your life, is worth celebrating. Being grateful will help you acknowledge and accept imperfection as normal and human.
Stop being a perfectionist by doing your best every day
Honestly, no one motivates me. I realized that my parents were not the type of parents who could give wise words to support me. When I fell, when I lost, when I failed, both at school or office, I was the one who motivated myself. I always say that I did my best and I couldn’t control what happened from there.
Set realistic goals because they work with you, at your pace. Setting smart goals allow you to split them into smaller, more manageable pieces. And when you do your best, know you did everything you could. You can continue to love with no regrets. You can’t change what has already happened. If you might want to do things better next time, do it … next time. Don’t beat yourself up about something that happened because it achieves absolutely nothing.
Ask yourself over something you’ve done imperfectly, “Did I do my best that I could?”
If the answer is yes, then allow yourself to move on and use your time and energy to make things better next time.
We’re human. You’re human. Simply by being a human, you cannot be perfect. My blogging career can’t be perfect, nor my job as a translator. There will always be room for mistakes, improvement, and something new to learn every day.
How stop being a perfectionist? Focus on the growth, the journey, the process, the learning, and achieve to be the best version of yourself. How about you? Let me know what is your way to stop being a perfectionist below.