10 Ways to Break Free from Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be paralyzing. You’re in good company if you get bogged down by it.

But, can you train yourself out of it? Yes!

If there’s a scale of perfectionism I was once a 10. But now I’m closer to a 5. By necessity my coaching business trained me out of it. I realized that if I wanted to earn more and work less that expedience is key. I saved a lot of time and aggravation by relaxing standards where they truly didn’t matter.

What was most eye-opening is that I discovered that perfectionists are not the most financially successful or happiest people on the planet. So why put myself through brain strain?

https://prosperouscoachblog.com/10-ways-break-free-perfectionism/In a recent juicy conversation with some coaches in my Prosperous Coach Inner Circle Mastermind*, we took perfectionism apart; examining what it is, when it arises, the significant costs and how to move beyond it. Here’s the wisdom that came out of that conversation:

What is perfectionism?

  • An ego-based habit/mindset.
  • Strengths over-used: over-thinking, over-planning, over-analyzing.
  • Goes hand in hand with procrastination.

When does perfectionism raise it’s picky head?

  • When stakes are high and it’s time to put yourself “out there”.
  • When you’re feeling less than and comparing yourself to others.
  • When you don’t feel “on”, fully engaged, inspired.
  • When you feel like a fraud or doubt your worthiness.

What are the costs of perfectionism?

  • Drives you further down the path you don’t want to be on.
  • Overrides your self-trust and intuition.
  • A major barrier to success and feeling successful.
  • The world does not reward perfectionism, but it does reward fast responders.
  • An energy drain to your mental state.
  • Lives in your body as stress, contraction.
  • It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you think you’ll fail you will.
  • Associated feelings:
doubt, fear, confusion and guilt.

How to break free from the perfectionism habit:

  1. Take the spotlight off yourself. Re-connect with your desire to serve.
  2. Connect rather than perform.
  3. Learn to think of flaws as  humanity rather than defects.
  4. Detach from outcome. Set and follow intention, while paradoxically being open to all possible outcomes as a gift.
  5. Focus on living in the present. Worry is fantasy.
 “Neurosis is building castles in the sky. Insanity is moving in.”
  6. Relax and enjoy the process.
  7. Move from your head and into your body = heart/intuition or belly/instinct.
  8. Go to Self care. Take a break.
  9. Realize that there is no right or wrong.
  10. Realize that “you’re not God” in the sense that everything is not up to you. Allow the Universe to bring surprises.

Words to Live By:

“Better done and out there working for me than perfect.”

Add to this and pass it forward. Share in the comments below what you notice about perfectionism and your words to live by.

*Special thanks to Lisa Wrigley, Kim Birkhimer, Sandra Hoedemaker and Sylke Chesterfield!


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8 thoughts on “10 Ways to Break Free from Perfectionism

  1. Awesome article! For a people like me, this article is a MIRROR. Don’t need more. If we do not wake up with this then I do not know what more would help.

  2. Rhonda,

    I love your information Rhonda! I have listened to some audio with you, and have read some of your work. It is consistently helpful to me and on-target. This article again hits on issues that I need to be reminded of. I coach spiritual leaders – many of them pastors in churches – and there’s another issue that many of them face: the pressure of the people around them to be perfect. Your bullet point about thinking of flaws as simply being human is important to keep in mind.

    I’ve been a leader in an organization and also had a solo business. Thankfully, having a solo business gets you out of the pressure of trying to be perfect to impress your boss (or your church members). But there is still a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves!

    Keep up the good work, and I hope we can keep in touch.
    – Mark Brouwer

    1. I delighted to be of help, Mark. It’s so true, having a solo business is the best training ground for breaking habits like perfectionism. You’ve got a great target audience!

  3. High-achievers in school often suffer from this ailment in their professional careers in their attempt to keep the flag flying.I’ve trained myself to consider perfectionism to be a habit which can be broken. If I feel that I am leaning towards perfectionism I immediately start chanting “my best is good enough” and after a few minutes the urge to be perfect disappears and effectiveness coupled with efficiency emerge.

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