How to overcome perfectionism in 9 simple steps

Photo by Sean Mallia

Photo by Sean Mallia

A year ago, I had already been thinking about starting this blog for over 6 months. 

But I kept putting it off. 

At first because I didn’t have enough energy for it – after all I was so ill that I barely had the energy for the most basic things, let alone a blog.

But then when I started DNRS and my energy was increasing, I knew that I could do it.

Except then my perfectionism kicked in.

And I put off starting the blog for many reasons. 

I needed the right name for the blog, I needed to learn more about how to actually run a blog and one other stumbling block was that I felt I didn’t have the right photos.

I remember thinking “Maybe I should wait till I’m better [I was still mostly housebound back then] and then ask a photographer to take some photos of me before actually launching the blog.”

For me, perfectionism and procrastination have often gone hand in hand. 

Sometimes, I want things to be so perfect that I just don’t get them done. 

Instead of doing them to the best of my ability, I wait for the “perfect” moment to do them – the moment which might unfortunately never come.

But apart from everything else, DNRS also helped me in this.

I was doing my DNRS practice one day when it suddenly came to me.

I wanted to start this blog to help others suffering from mysterious, chronic illnesses recover the way I did.

So what if I didn’t have the “perfect” photo? So what if I didn’t know too much about how to run a blog?

And so I made the decision there and then that I’d start the blog with the photos I had and eventually try getting some proper photos taken.

My best friend Becky is an amazing photographer, but after living in Australia for some years, she’s now on the trip of a lifetime with her husband travelling around the world.

So my father suggested we ask another amazing photographer and good friend of his, Sean Mallia, to take my photos for the blog.

My father came along to the photo shoot to help me to relax (ever since I was a kid, I’ve never really known how to relax when my photo was being taken: haha we have some hilarious photos of me standing perfectly straight next to my much more relaxed brother and sister :) ). 

The photo shoot ended up being loads of fun and Sean is so incredibly good that I’m happier with the results than I ever thought I could be.

But this whole thing also made me think back to that moment where I wanted to wait to have the right photos before starting the blog.

And I’m so glad I started it when I did because even if for 8 months I didn’t have the “perfect” photo, at least I managed to help some people begin the beautiful (but bumpy) journey of recovery from mysterious, chronic illnesses through DNRS.

And here are 9 steps which can really help you overcome perfectionism and not let it hold you back the way it always did for me (and sometimes still does because I must say it’s still a work in progress):  

1. Keep in mind that perfection doesn’t actually exist. 
It took me a long time to realise this but trying to do everything “perfectly” was really holding me back. So that’s why I now believe it’s better to get things done even if they’re not as perfect as my inner perfectionist might wish. I try to remind myself that good is actually good enough.

2. Remember that things don’t even have to be as good as you want them to be from day one. 
When I realised this, things really changed for me. I could start the blog and then develop things as I went along. So what if there were things which I knew could be better? It was still better than not starting it at all and things could eventually improve over time.

3. Remind yourself that there are many colours between black and white.
For perfectionists, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we’re not the best at what we’re doing, then we’re terrible and should just stop. It’s good to remember that there’s a whole spectrum between being the best and being terrible. Don’t let your inner perfectionist tell you that you or your project aren’t good enough.

4. Don’t worry about making mistakes. 
We all make mistakes sometimes and it’s not the end of the world if we do. We should accept mistakes and realise that we often end up learning and developing through them.

5. Break a big project down into smaller tasks.
As I said, for me, perfectionism and procrastination often go hand in hand. And seeing a big project as a whole can often cause this. Focusing on just the next small task really helps me to avoid feeling overwhelmed and keep moving forward slowly but steadily.

6. Prioritise.
I find it helps me to ask myself how important something is and whether it’s worth spending the extra time to try to make it perfect. Sometimes less than perfect is good enough and it’s impossible to try doing everything perfectly.

7. Relax and enjoy the process.
With my blog, it helps me to remind myself why I write. So what if my blog or my writing aren’t perfect? If I can help someone passing through a difficult time, to me that’s all that matters.

8. Keep in mind that just because one thing isn’t working as well as you wish it to, it doesn’t mean that nothing is.
This is still something I struggle with. If one thing goes wrong or doesn’t seem to be working well, it’s easy for me to feel as though I’m doing nothing right. In these moments, I find it helps if I remind myself why I’m feeling that way and then also remind myself of all the things that are going right.

9. And finally don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to others and feeling as though you don’t match up.
Before I started my blog, I used to look at other blogs and at times I used to feel overwhelmed because they were so good. But again, I just reminded myself that I wasn’t doing this to compete and I didn’t need to compare myself to others. It's perfectly fine that my blog is just a tiny drop in the ocean :)

If you’re anything like me, perfectionism might be holding you back – at times without you even realising.

It took me a long time to realise that I could move away from my inner perfectionist. Yes she’s still there always trying to put a word in.

But with the 9 strategies I mentioned above, I find it much easier to free myself from the constant need for perfection and this really helps me live a happier (and calmer) life.