Overcoming Perfectionism

It's time to fess up.  Are you a perfectionist? Do you set yourself high standards and then get cranky when you don't live up to them? Do you expect a lot from others and then get disappointed when they don't cut it? Are you procrastinating over something because it's easier to do that than to face the possibility that you won't do it perfectly?

Perfectionism is a curse that many of us live with but there is hope.  You can overcome it - or at least temper it a bit so that life is not quite so overwhelming.

Psychologists worry about perfectionists not because of the high standards they maintain for themselves.  There's nothing wrong with that.  In fact many 'perfectionists' maintain high standards but don't necessarily suffer as a result.  If you're one of these then you're probably not a perfectionist.  You possess a high need for achievement.

Perfectionism is a worry to psychologists because true perfectionists hold themselves to high standards and then judge themselves negatively when they don't meet those standards.  It's the thinking part that causes the problems; how hard you are on yourself. Not the standards.

Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic and Flying Solo has been through that battle.  She had, in her own words, a breakdown.  She went to therapy.  She learnt a lot about herself and how she functions in the world and she's described her own understanding of perfectionism and her framework for overcoming it in her new book, Practical Perfection.

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Practical Perfection because Kelly and I had a chat about the nature of perfectionism when she was writing it.  It's a great book and I wholeheartedly recommend it if you're feeling burnt out or overwhelmed or 'like a hamster on a wheel' just trying to keep up with your own expectations.

In fact I recommend it to everyone because Kelly talks about the importance of knowing two vital things about yourself:

  1. Your passions 
  2. Your priorities

This leads into a discussion about how knowing these things effects your productivity. She's even got a very nifty model for how the three fit together (you can see that here).

If you've been hanging about here in the Potential Psychology community for any length of time you will have heard me bang on about strengths and values and the importance of knowing your strengths and your values for your well being.  Well this:

Passions = Strengths

Priorities = Values

Kelly gives you a really lovely description and simple framework for understanding your passions (strengths) and your priorities (values). She talks about how not knowing them contributes to burnout and overwhelm, and she uses her experience and this knowledge of passions and priorities to give you tips on improving your productivity and getting off the hamster wheel.  

If you're keen to get hold of Kelly's book you can do that here.

If you'd like to go even deeper on the topic of perfectionism you might like this.

Are you a perfectionist? Or a recovering perfectionist?  Do you know your strengths and values?  Want to chat about it? Write me a comment below and I'll chat back :-)


On 1 May my short online course ‘Find Your Groove: The Introduction’ kicks off (but you can register right now and I'll send you some introductory stuff to get started).  It’s two modules delivered over one week and in it we work together to uncover your strengths, your values, your talents and your interests in order to create a complete picture of what’s right with you.  It’s a quick and simple way to open your eyes to all that you bring to the world and exactly what you have within you that will make you successful in whatever you aim to achieve.

It's an introduction to my full course, 'Find Your Groove' which will open for registrations again in April but it's also an entirely standalone course that will give you a whole lot of insight into how you operate all on its own.

You can find out more (and register) here. It’s only $79.95 for a whole heap of content including questionnaires, exercises, presentations and a workbook.  I’m looking forward to working with you.