Perfectionism or excellence

Perfectionism or excellence, that is the question….

Perfectionism or excellence is a choice.

While perfectionism can drive you towards fantastic achievements. Perfectionism can help to provide you with the motivation to keep going until you attain your goal:
Giving the perfect presentation
Doing the perfect job
Baking the perfect birthday cake
Perfectionism can really help you sustain the energy levels you need to reach your own personal challenge.

But pressure and anxiety all build when you try to be the perfect person.

Perfectionism is within you and therefore under your control.
Striving for perfectionism within yourself can lead to anxiety as you try to live up to your own expectations or how you perceive others’ expectations of you.
You will always be not quite there, not quite good enough, simply because the perfect person doesn’t exist.

Cakes, jobs and presentations are all measurable, people aren’t.

People make mistakes
People have imperfections

It’s part of what makes us human. Mistakes help us to learn.

Perfectionism, pressure, anxiety can take an enormous toll on you and your life in general.

You fear success because of the fear of maintaining success.
Fearing mistakes can be due to the fear of losing respect from others as well as yourself.
Fear of failure can mean that you never set yourself goals. Or setting goals so high as to be unattainable.
Being constantly aware and reminding yourself of your weaknesses, imperfections and failures.

Be Excellent Instead Of Perfect
Improving yourself can be an enjoyable journey.
Being great at something is an enormous achievement.
Take yourself (and life) a little less seriously, forgive yourself, be gentle with yourself.

Set small, achievable goals.
Reward yourself.
Be aware of the influence of social programming – social media, TV programmes, magazine articles.
Making the effort to change is an achievement in itself.
Just by being born, you literally won the race!

Anxiety perfectionists

Welcome to the second part of my anxiety perfectionists tools designed to help you feel better faster, if you missed the first installment, you can access it here.

OK, let’s carry on..

Really important this next one – You create the pressure in any given situation, it comes not from external pressures, but how you frame and respond to those pressures. You make pressure and if you make it, you can unmake it. Remember, If there is no perfect way to do something, then there is no pressure to do it any other way than your way, and you’re the world’s leading expert in doing things your way already.


Other peoples’ opinions do not have to determine how you feel, your opinion is most importantyou have the right not to have to justify what you do. Your opinion of how efforts are, is more important than anyone else’s.


You have the right to say, “no”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t want to” or ‘I don’t understand’. That’s empowering just in itself and deserves its own post but for the meantime, turn it over in your mind, maybe try it, maybe little things at first just to see how it feels…


Avoid words like ‘must’ ‘should’ and ‘ought’. These are judgmental words that paint you into a corner. They are not part of your anxiety perfectionists toolkit. More importantly, they set up pressure and expectation upon you to behave a certain way when you might not feel that way. We’re working toward authenticity, the conscious and subconscious being in harmony. Try ‘could’ instead and be more gentle with yourself.


Finally, just get on and do it. Putting things off and going over them endlessly feeds perfectionism. It’s the ‘Analysis = Paralysis’ equation. Remember the successful people mentioned above? Many of them failed many many times before they were finally successful in a goal.


Instead of aiming for perfection, try aiming for excellence, and remember that as long as you’ve done your best, then no-one can ask any more of you than that.

Perfection anxiety

Perfection anxiety happens when we put pressure and expectation on ourselves, when perceived ability to cope is less than demands. It can have an effect on confidence and self-esteem, causing all those symptoms set out in my other posts on anxiety here.


One of the causes of perfection anxiety is a fear of  not being good enough, so what can we do in the short-term to reassure ourselves? Do you remember re-framing from this earlier post?

Here are some of the themes and re-frames I sometimes work into therapy with perfectionists and perfectionism, if you struggle with needing to be perfect, why not try them on for size…?


First, you don’t have to be perfect, nobody else is. Remember the old saying, “Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes?” – that’s the point, no matter how much ‘perfect’ we project onto someone else, from the inside their world is probably every bit as difficult as everyone else’s, and if you don’t believe me, just ask them.

After all, how many ‘perfect’ celebrities with their perfect bodies, houses, partners and lives have you seen end up in rehab, the divorce courts or worse?


Second, there is no perfect way of doing anything. As we get older, this becomes an easier concept to grasp but there really are many ways to achieve a specific goal in life. What’s also important is to realise that the getting there is part of the process, and often the fun.

Think about a goal you set yourself, maybe an education or fitness course or saving for something. I expect that when you got there, it was different from how you imagined it at the beginning, that the journey changed you as much as the goal.


Next, if you’re not doing something as well as you’d like, just accept it. Sometimes trying harder increases the pressure on you, makes you miserable and hurts your performance. You won’t be good at everything all the time, sometimes you’ll struggle or fail. If you study the lives of successful people, you’ll find that failing is a vital part of how they succeeded.


Be sure to catch the second part of this blog for more resources to use today to relieve perfectionism.