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How to overcome perfectionism according to a life coach

Perfectionism can stand in the way of us enjoying the life we have. Life coach Hattie MacAndrews shares her advice for accepting ourselves as we are

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5 October 2023
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As a life coach, I often see clients who are struggling with perfectionism.

We put so much pressure on ourselves on a daily basis to be or to appear perfect. It's exhausting to set standards we'll never be able to reach.

The curse of perfectionism is something we are all so familiar with, especially women. Here's how I advise my clients overcome perfectionism in order to live happier lives. 

Hattie MacAndrews smiling on a sofa
Hattie MacAndrews helps people overcome perfectionism

How to overcome perfectionism

1. Recognise how perfectionism is impacting you

As with everything, your route to overcoming perfectionism starts with awareness. Like every other pattern, habit or thought we want to change, we have to first become aware of what perfectionism looks like for us, how it shows up and what impact it is having on our lives.

This awareness becomes our motivation for change. Once you have recognised how your perfectionist tendencies are negatively impacting your behaviour, your drive to limit them increases.

Try writing a list of all the ways – negatively and positively – that perfectionism impacts you and if the negative outweighs the positive then that’s your cue. It’s time to change your mindset.

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Perfectionism can stop us from feeling happy

Perfectionism is often deeply rooted in fear – fear of not being good enough, fear of failure or a fear of not being perceived in a certain way. In other words, it’s a form of imposter syndrome. 

 READ: 5 ways to make every day special – and feel instantly happier 

For perfectionists, this manifests itself in many different ways, one of which can be setting excessively high goals – which are undoubtedly not met and lead to increased low self-esteem, self-doubt and a determination to do or be better next time.

When you look at this example, it’s clear that this way of life is neither fulfilling, productive, healthy or sustainable.

 This is where the ‘work’ on your end comes in, as you now have a choice. You can choose to continue to think, feel and act this way – that you’re a failure and your work will never be good enough, or you can choose to change.

2. Be kinder to yourself

Be kinder to yourself, more accepting of your (perceived) flaws and understand that you are only human, doing the best you can.

It sounds so simple, but feels so daunting to accept that there is no such thing as perfect. You will never reach your idea of perfection – because it will always keep you slightly at arm’s length. 

What you can do, is accept that you are ‘perfect as you are’. Learn to take your mistakes in your stride, strengthen your mindset to handle feedback, and know that it’s all part of the process.

3. Celebrate yourself

Celebrate your achievements, big, small or messy. Look to find contentment in your efforts, and with this, you will start to cultivate self-confidence. 

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Celebrating yourself will help you overcome perfectionism

There’s no time like the present, and there is no such thing as perfect timing. So it’s time to just get on with it – invite your family over, find a new career, start that business – stop waiting for everything to be perfect, because you will be waiting forever. Learn to embrace the uncertainty, and remember, you are perfect as you are, perfectly imperfect.

Follow Hattie on Instagram for more advice and visit the HELLO! Happiness Hub for more inspiration on how to be happier. 

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