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  • Tamara Cavenett

When perfect isn't good enough

Indecisive? Do you feel even your best is not enough? Are you frozen at the idea of making a mistake? Do you have unrelenting high standards that negatively impact your life?

The goal is not for you to give up your high standards altogether but to learn to pursue healthy high standards.

When perfectionism is helpful it can...

- help to motivate you

- increase effort to achieve goals

- keep you organised

- create challenge

- encourage you to learn new skills and try new things

When perfectionism is unhelpful it can...

- impair performance

- make you indecisive

- create anxiety, worry, sleeplessness, feeling of tension

- increase procrastination

- lower self-esteem

- set unrelenting standards

- make you feel hopeless and depressed

What can I do?

1. Set realistic goals that will enhance a sense of achievement. Use the SMART goal format.

2. Consider the consequences of being a perfectionist and holding unrelenting standards.

3. Replace Shoulds. Change your thinking by replacing extreme thoughts, such as 'I should not make a mistake', with more flexible and helpful ways of thinking such as a preference, for example 'I would prefer to not make a mistake, however I am human and it is unreasonable to expect me to never make a mistake'.

4. Break down tasks. Procrastination is a common symptom of perfectionism. Break down tasks into much smaller parts and create mini deadlines. This will reduce feelings of being overwhelmed with a task.

5. Practice imperfection. Make time for self-care and leisure. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and start to practice not being perfect to desensitise yourself.

6. Get mindful. Mindfulness skills can teach you to relate differently to negative thinking and critical self-talk. Try the free smiling mind app.

Want some more information for a detailed workbook see the Centre for Clinical Interventions or contact us.

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

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