How I Finally Overcame Perfectionism (Step By Step)

I wanted you to know that everything I explain in this article is based on a true story. A story about an inner battle I have been fighting for 24 years. 

And today you’ll learn exactly what I did to overcome my perfectionism…  

Why perfection doesn’t exist

You know there actually isn’t something called perfection. 

It’s something we humans can never attain. Like how the buildings we make, are considered beautiful by their imperfection. 

But even nature is imperfect, wherever you look. Like how the clouds don’t have a perfect shape and even the trees don’t grow perfectly straight without human help. 

But there is something that makes things perfect. It is not perfection itself, but simply relaxing in imperfection.

It is getting things done for 70% and getting better one percent at a time.

That’s what nature has been doing for millions of years. It keeps creating and improves the creation bit by bit, after it noticed what needed improvement. 

The thing with pursuing perfection is that you never arrive, as the more you zoom in on something the more you see what can be improved. 

But is all that striving for perfection actually worth it?

Perfectionism 1

The 80-20 rule

I found the following very interesting:

When you create something you use 20% of your time to get 80% of the results… but when you try to strive for perfection, you use the other 80% of your time to get the last 20% results.

In other words. After a certain point, you hit a plateau and it becomes increasingly harder to improve something. You have to spend more and more energy to make improvements that will be smaller and smaller. 

But what can you do instead to get better?

Go to the next project. People don’t see imperfection on the same level that you see. So, if you go to the next project, you can take the wisdom you gained from the last project and apply it there… and this is how you learn.

You want to be the person who practices a 1000 times, instead of 5 times. Because the person who practices 5 times needs everything to go perfect, while the one who practices 1000 times can make many mistakes and will make a certain hit sooner or later.

Once I knew that I had to stop striving for perfection and practice more, I actually still felt the urge to make things perfect… until I listened to the following speech from motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

How to overcome Perfectionism 1

#2: Change your Rules for Failure and Success

One day I was browsing on YouTube and I saw a video from motivational speaker Tony Robbins about perfectionism. 

Yes, I still struggled with my low self-esteem, which was caused by my perfectionism… so I decided to watch the video… after about 10 minutes in the video, I was blown away what Tony said:

“You make it too easy for yourself to fail… and too hard for yourself to succeed.”

Tony Robbins

Wow, I considered myself a failure when I made a YouTube video that was not perfect and didn’t get 1000 views. And I saw myself only as a success if I considered a video perfect and if the video gained a 1000 views. 

I mean… did I make it easy for myself to fail and hard to succeed? ABSOLUTELY!

So he asked me to write down some new rules for failure and success, which I now live by and reduced my perfectionism drastically:

Failure: If I quit, then I am a failure.
Success: If I consistently create content, then I am a success.

This meant that perfectionism was no longer needed, as long as I created content to help others.

So… what are your rules for failure and success. Do you believe you are a success when you attain perfection? The level of perfection that doesn’t exist? 

Or do you find yourself successful if you create project after project and improve along the way?

The moment I learned that perfection didn’t exist and changed my rules for success and failure, I felt liberated… but I had to put it into practice to make my mind believe that perfectionism was no longer needed to attain my goals.

Well, I wanted to start on TikTok for a long time but was scared of the imperfect videos that the platform is full of, so I told myself: let’s make one imperfect TikTok video for 30 days.

How to overcome Perfectionism

#3: The TikTok Challenge

I made a spreadsheet and wrote down what I believed would happen if I made imperfect content and after 30 days I would write down what REALLY happened.

Day 1

My anxious predictions were that people would consider me a fraud, that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that the quality was bad… which would prevent me from reaching my goals.

But after 30 days, the following happened. Do you want to know what can happen if you focus on progress over perfection?

Day 30

After posting an imperfect video for 30 days, which were quickly made, I got tens of thousands of views, dozens of DM’s on Instagram many new followers dozens of new people who registered for my anxiety training and landed even my first 2 clients for my anxiety coaching!

All this couldn’t happen if I strived for perfection. My journey in overcoming perfectionism made me learn that perfection doesn’t exist anywhere you look. 

Conclusion

Everyone has a different view of perfection, which means that when you lower your definition of perfection, you make way more progress to work towards your dreams and get the life you want to live. Your goals and dreams are still waiting on you. And when you overcome your perfectionism, you can finally make progress, because that is what really counts… progress over perfection.

If you want to learn how to overcome anxiety, then watch my FREE Limited Time Training here.

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About Wouter

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on freeing themselves from anxiety. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their journey towards less anxiety.

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