Are you a perfectionist? If you answer yes to these questions, then you might very well be a perfectionist:

  • Do you feel like what you accomplish is never quite good enough?
  • Do you often put off turning in papers or projects, waiting to get them just right?
  • Do you feel you must give more than 100 percent on everything you do or else you will be mediocre or even a failure?

Perfectionism refers to one person’s thoughts and behaviors which are aimed at reaching excessively high and unrealistic goals. In other words, many perfectionists set themselves up for failure and unfortunately end up achieving much less than they could. Perfectionism actually blocks the path to success many times.

Perfectionism most often comes from learning very early in life that one’s value is based on performance or what one achieves. Perfectionists learn to base their self worth on the approval of others. Thus, being perfect is a defense against criticism, rejection and disapproval from other people.

Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, and can negatively affect interpersonal relationships.

So, what do you do about perfectionism? If you think you are a perfectionist and want to move towards healthier striving and thinking, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Realize that perfectionism is unattainable and undesirable.
  2. Set realistic goals for yourself based on your past accomplishments and what you really want (not what others expect).
  3. Experiment with your standards for success by aiming for 90%, 80% or even 60% success; learning that sometime being “close enough” is really good enough.
  4. Focus on the process or journey towards a goal instead of just the end point. In this way, learn to enjoy the process.

Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD
swald @

Photo Cred: Rene Silbernagel

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