Letting Go Of Perfectionism

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist

Published in Lifestyle on 27th August, 2018

For some, there is one key problem that can stand in the way of taking on new challenges. This is perfectionism, or the idea that if we're going to do something, we need to do it flawlessly. While it's a nice thought, this kind of thinking can do more harm than good in our lives.


However, some may wonder where it comes from, what effects it can have and what to do about it. Through providing some detailed information on the concept, we're going to help you find ways to move past perfectionism, so that you can create a more fulfilling life.

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a toxic thought process that leads people to believe they need to do things perfectly. It convinces individuals that their success is based on making no mistakes. Of course, most people would love to be able to take on new challenges without worry for mistakes, but that isn't how life works.

Ultimately, perfectionism stems from fear. It comes from the fear of failure, and even more so the fear that we won't be worthy if we fail. This kind of thinking can be immobilizing, damaging and can keep us from enjoying full, happy lives.

How Does It Effect Our Lives?

When you're afraid of doing something imperfectly, it can make you less willing to try things. You may be afraid that you'll do poorly, or that you'll look silly. You may feel that you need to stay on guard and only do what you know you can do well.

let it go

As a result, those who have a strong sense of perfectionism may try fewer things. They may be afraid to dance, or try new creative or business ventures. This can lead to a life that may be less messy, but it will also be a life with a lot less excitement and fun.

Why Is It A Problem?

Imagine that you want to paint. However, you don't feel you can paint a picture unless you can find the perfect flow, balance of colors, subject and more. Rather than accepting that the learning process is often filled with mistakes, you may be too worried about potential problems to really try.

Because you're so caught up in trying to "plan" the perfect painting, you end up painting nothing at all. The same goes for any other task that perfectionism can effect. The fear of failure keeps you from attempting the things you would really like to do.

How To Let Perfectionism Go

Perfectionism can be something that is built into us, so releasing it can require a focused effort. By considering and following these tips, you can help to save yourself from becoming immobilized by its grasp. Read them carefully and pick up the ones that resonate with you the most.

The Beauty Of Imperfection

If each person completed every endeavor perfectly, the world would be a boring place. Our flaws not only make us unique, but they help us to learn how to find our own kind of perfection. It's wise to consider that your perfection doesn't have to match what the rest of the world deems as perfect.

beauty of imperfection

Furthermore, it's often the case that what an individual sees as imperfect may not be a flaw at all in the eyes of someone else. Letting go of the concept that everyone else sees the flaws you do is going to help fight the fear that anything you put out into the world will be doomed if it isn't perfect.

Remembering Reality

Many who deal with perfectionism may feel that they will put the "perfect" thing into the world at some time or another. They just may not be ready yet.

The problem with that, is that "yet" goes on and on, resulting in nothing at all being produced. Remember that even if you put something out into the world that isn't perfect, you've still done the work and put something out there. At that point, you can take any flaws into account, and improve the next version of the thing.

Learn To Accept Yourself

Self acceptance is key to sending away problems with perfectionism. You are human, and humans are flawed. That is part of the beauty of your existence. Accepting that you aren't going to put perfect creations out into the world can help greatly to relieve the pressure to perform.

Once you're able to accept this part of yourself, it's easier to do things you want to. You can let go of the worry of being judged and make the effort, knowing you can always repair things in the future. The path to perfection requires effort, so you'll never get there if you don't try.

Make It Smaller

If the entire project seems overwhelming, then it can help to break it down into smaller pieces. When you've done that, you can focus more easily on doing each little part the best you can. If you notice your inner critical voice trying to step in, you can take a break and come back to it.


The point of this is to show yourself that you can put things into the world and it will be okay. If you want to paint a masterpiece, start with a sketch. If you want to write a novel, start with a short story.

Avoid Fear

Fear drives us to do less. It convinces us that we will fail, and it will be terrible. In some cases, it may even convince us that there will be no coming back from that failure. However, this simply isn't the case.

Don't let fear cause you to believe your efforts won't be enough. Keep in mind that the mistakes you might make are far less in comparison to never trying. If you avoid making attempts, you'll be likely to feel stuck in the future. However, making mistakes can lead to making important improvements.

Find Beauty In What You Do

Whether you're writing a story, painting, drawing or some other venture, it's a good idea to look for the positive. No matter how poorly you're doing, there is always some little bit of light you can find. Maybe the eyes you draw are better than other aspects, maybe you've just gotten better about practicing regularly.

Look for reasons to give yourself credit, and you'll find that you have an easier time accepting flaws. Even if you've never drawn or written a story before in your life, it's highly unlikely that there will be absolutely nothing good about the efforts you put forth.

Enjoy The Process

As you look for the light, also focus on enjoying the process. In many cases, the reason you want to do a certain thing is because you enjoy it or because it has a purpose in your mind. Finding ways to enjoy the journey can allow you to make positive memories rather than focusing only on the results.

let go perfectionism

Try to look at those results as a happy bonus of your efforts. Do something because you enjoy it, and no more. If you happen to get some kind of external reward from the work, take it in stride. However, don't expect it or use it as a sole reason for doing something.

Involve Positive Influences

Surround yourself with people who enjoy what they do. Even if what they do isn't the same as what you do, it can help to have people around who support your effort.

These people can not only help you to enjoy your journey, but can help to hold you up when the critical voices are getting too loud. In turn, you can do the same for them when they're worried about the flaws in their own work. This kind of relationship can be very healthy and provide many positive boosts.

Practice Validation

Validation reminds you and others that you are worthy, and that your thoughts and feelings are real and worthy. This practice can improve a lot more than just the banishment of perfectionism. It coincides with accepting yourself, and involves accepting others as well.

In the same vein, notice any flaws or mistakes you make, but don't judge them. Consider what you can do to improve for the future rather than dwelling on how awful the past mistake was. Making yourself feel terrible about the mistake is only going to leave you feeling like you don't want to try again.


Perfection can be a terrible monster, and the only way away from it is to go forward. You aren't going to complete the task or project perfectly, but do it anyway. It is through making mistakes that you'll learn how to make the improvements that will lead you toward perfection.

Keep in mind that thinking and planning alone aren't enough to create the perfect result, and the perfect result isn't going to be the same in all circumstances. Work toward the result that you, as an individual, want and don't pay any mind to the criticism of those who aren't working toward their own goals.

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