You know in high school / college when you take those interview prep classes and they tell you that when you're asked the question "What is your biggest weakness?" that you should turn it into a positive by saying something along the lines of "I'm a perfectionist and sometimes I can be too picky with co-workers...blah blah blah"?

They say that because people throw the word "perfectionist" around so much that we have really lost sight of its true meaning and we take it to mean that you have high standards, an excellent work ethic, and will work really hard to achieve perfection.

That's not really what it means to be a perfectionist.

A true perfectionist will tell you that it is an absolute curse. Being a true perfectionist, I will tell you that it is the thing that probably holds me back the most in life. 

I think that the most successful people in life are most likely not perfectionists, and here's why...

*We put things off and procrastinate big time because the thought of starting something is very overwhelming, knowing that we will want to do it perfectly.

*We are "all or nothing" in everything that we do and find a life of moderation nearly impossible.

*Making a simple mistake or being only average at something is seen as a complete failure in our minds.

*We don't bounce back quickly from failures.

As an example, I once saw an episode of Oprah back in the day about perfectionists and they showed a woman whose home was a complete disaster (think "Hoarders" status) because she had let it get to the point where it was so far gone that she felt like there was no hope of getting it perfect so she just went the complete opposite direction. THAT is a true perfectionist. It's not a good thing!


Can any of you relate to this? I struggle every single day with my perfectionism (which you now know is not a humblebrag), so I thought I would share some tips that I've come up with for fighting it because I'm pretty sure there is no cure:

1. TRY to practice moderation. It's a real struggle for me to be moderate about anything, whether it be working out, eating healthy, cleaning the house, etc. It's like I have a switch in my mind and if I'm "on" with working out, then I'm really into it to a point that it's almost too extreme, but if it's "off" I just make it the last priority until it gets so out of control that I hate myself (haha...but seriously). I've really been trying over the last year or so to remind myself to be moderate. The next time you start a new fitness routine, for example, remind yourself that you want these habits to last for the rest of your life not just a few weeks, and try to scale back your intensity so that you don't burn out.

2. Be your own friend. By that I mean, ask yourself what you would say to a friend in your situation. I tend to be much harder on myself than others and sometimes it helps me to think about what I would say to a friend of mine who was going through whatever "end-of-the-world" event I'm dealing with.

3. Focus on the big picture. Getting caught up in details can cause you to give up on something that's actually fine or (worse!) not even start to begin with.

4. Create realistic schedules / goals. This is something that I've been putting into practice lately that has really, really helped me. I used to make gigantic, unrealistic to-do lists every morning and I almost never got everything done. I was setting myself up for failure, so no matter how much I did that day, I felt like it wasn't enough. These days, I've been putting three things on my day's to-do list. Just three. The three most important tasks for the day. Then I have a weekly list where I write everything that I need to do for the week, and I use whatever time is left over during the day to pull from that larger list. I really feel like this has made my mind so much clearer and I feel so much more at peace! Highly recommend.

5. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO PEOPLE! No seriously, stop that now. Don't compare yourself to strangers on the Internet. Don't compare yourself to some gorgeous girl in a magazine. Don't compare your home / wardrobe / family / life / etc to other people if you ever want to be happy. That's just the truth, y'all. This is one thing that I really feel like I've gotten a handle on over the years. Maybe it's just getting older, but I fully recognize now that photos in magazines are photoshopped, celebrities have entire teams of people dedicated to making them look good, and people who seem perfect in other areas of life have most definitely made some type of huge sacrifice to get to that point. If only I could speak to my high school self about this...she was a mess.


  1. Thanks for this! I especially like the idea of setting just three goals each day and then using the rest of the time to work on weekly projects. I really like that. I think I might try that starting tomorrow. Thanks!

  2. I do the 'just three things' trick too! Another tip I learned recently is to use a 'time/energy list' instead of a 'to-do list'. As perfectionists, I think we often overestimate our own capacities and in our 'get it all done' high, we forget that we're human and we need things like sleep, so it's better to look at your to-do list and ask, 'What do I realistically have the time and energy to do today?" It helps me with perspective and I usually eliminate/delegate half of the entire list.



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