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Overcoming Perfectionism – 6 Easy Steps to Live Your Desired Life

I always try to do the right thing. I try to remember and send cards for special occasions. Apologize for mistakes, or better yet, don’t make any. Listen more than I talk. Be a great boss. Keep in touch with friends near and far. Always take the high road. Never lose my temper or patience. Eat healthy. Get fewer parking tickets. I could go on and on and on. In short, I want to be perfect. And I’m annoyed that I’m not.

Lately I’ve begun to realize that my desire to be perfect is causing me stress, diminishing my happiness, and preventing me from pursuing things I really want. So here’s to overcoming perovercoming perfectionismfectionism. I hope the steps here help all of us who are frustrated that we’re not perfect.

Overcoming perfectionism tip number one: When you make a choice, go with it. Don’t second guess yourself.

If you decide to skip a party, networking event, or class at the gym, you have a good reason. Don’t question yourself or say, “I should have.”

Overcoming perfectionism tip number two: Stop thinking that life has to look a certain way.

Maybe you’re in a job that doesn’t challenge you 100%, or you wish you were saving more money. Be careful not to buy into others’ views of how life should be lived. You’re living your life in the way it works for you.

Overcoming perfectionism tip number three: Don’t compare yourself to others.

Comparing ourselves to other people is normal and natural, and it’s the booby prize. There will also be people who are more successful, more fit, and more attractive than us. Those seemingly perfect folks have challenges and disappointments we will never know about.

Overcoming perfectionism tip number four: If you make a mistake, apologize once and move on.

I often feel badly for ‘mistakes’ long after they’re over. The other person is likely to have forgotten about the incident long after I’m still feeling guilty.

Overcoming perfectionism tip number five: Worry less what people think.

Human beings are wired for survival. Most people are so worried about themselves; they’re not preoccupied with you. So do your thing and assume the rest of the world is not watching.

Overcoming perfectionism tip number six: Try new things and be willing to make mistakes.

We won’t have anything different if we don’t do anything different. Learn a new skill, try a new way to solve a problem, and be willing to look silly and fail.

I’m hoping the tips above provide both me and my striving-to-be-perfect comrades some freedom. By suggesting you live your desired life, I’m not saying ignore responsibilities, be rude, or put yourself first all the time. I am saying that living life the way you think it should be lived, versus how you really want to live it, will diminish your personal happiness and satisfaction. And as far as we know, we only go around once.



Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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9 Responses to “Overcoming Perfectionism – 6 Easy Steps to Live Your Desired Life”

  1. Cindi Miller says:

    Thank you for this Shari, it was a nice reminder that we are all different and that is ok.

  2. Marissa Jones Lewis says:

    These are Great Rules to REVIEW OFTEN….It’s OK NOT to be Perfect (and even better to take breaks from Non-Reality Life such as Facebook, REAL housewives….et al.). If it has to say it’s REAL in the title, chances are…:)

  3. Susan Sankel says:

    Thanks as always for the great words of advice. I always appreciate your thoughts and am constantly referencing you and your blog.
    Regards, Susan

  4. Shannon Helton says:

    I have to constantly remind myself of tip number 5! All of these are great reminders. Thank you!

  5. Rachel Cohen says:


    I read your weekly blogs and have found many of them thought provoking. I thought this blog was particularly on point and helpful.

    Thank you.

  6. Dan Kobler says:

    Great article Shari. As a recovering perfectionist, it never hurts to hear some new perspectives and reminders. Here’s to good enough!

  7. Sharon says:

    This makes me feel human. 🙂 I love tip number 6! Thanks for you doing what you do!

  8. Shirley says:

    Thanks for this article Shari. Tip number 4 is my biggest problem. I keep wanting to apologize for things over and over again. I will keep this tip to remind me that it’s okay to apologize once an move forward.

  9. Debi says:

    Thanks for these reminders — especially tip #6. A friend told me once that “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing ok”. He was suggesting I change the often said “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”.

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