Letting Go of Perfect: 5 Ways to Release Unrealistic Standards



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May 21, 2024

Do you constantly strive for perfection, only to feel frustrated and disappointed when things don't go as planned? 

You're not alone. 

Perfectionism can be a relentless pursuit that drains your energy and hinders your progress. 

But it doesn't have to be this way. 

In this post, we'll explore 5 simple and actionable strategies for letting go of perfection and embracing a more fulfilling and balanced approach to life.

1. Recognize the Perfectionism Trap

The first step in overcoming perfectionism is recognizing when it's holding you back. 

Pay attention to the thoughts and behaviours that indicate you're striving for an unattainable standard of perfection. 

Do you constantly criticize yourself for minor mistakes? 

Are you afraid to take risks or try new things for fear of failure? 

Awareness is the first step toward change.

Action Step: 

Keep a journal to track your perfectionistic tendencies. Write down instances when you notice yourself setting unrealistic standards or being overly critical of your performance.

2. Challenge Your Inner Critic

Perfectionism often stems from a harsh inner critic telling you nothing you do is good enough. 

Challenge these negative thoughts by practicing self-compassion and reframing your perspective. 

Instead of focusing on flaws and shortcomings, celebrate your efforts and progress. 

Remind yourself that making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growth.

Action Step:

Create a list of affirmations to counteract negative self-talk. Repeat these affirmations daily to reinforce a more positive and compassionate mindset.

In case you missed it, my TED talk dropped recently and focuses on the keys of movement and momentum.

Watch it here!

3. Set Realistic Goals

Rather than aiming for perfection, set realistic and achievable goals that align with your values and priorities. 

Break larger goals down into smaller, manageable tasks, and focus on making progress rather than achieving perfection. 

Remember that perfection is an illusion; striving for it only sets you up for disappointment.

Action Step:

Use the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to set goals that are realistic and attainable. Break each goal down into actionable steps and create a timeline for completion.

4. Embrace Imperfection

Practice embracing imperfection in all areas of your life, whether work, relationships, or personal pursuits. 

Allow yourself to take risks and make mistakes without fear of judgment or failure. 

Recognize that perfection is subjective and that there is beauty in imperfection.

Action Step:

Challenge yourself to intentionally do something imperfectly. Whether it's doodling outside the lines or leaving an email unedited, embrace the opportunity to let go of perfection and experience the freedom that comes with it.

5. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Shift your focus from achieving perfection to making progress and learning. 

Celebrate small victories and acknowledge the effort you've put into your pursuits, regardless of the outcome. 

Remember that growth occurs through trial and error, and each step forward brings you closer to your goals.

Action Step:

Keep a progress journal to track your accomplishments and milestones. Take time to reflect on how far you've come and celebrate your progress, no matter how small.


Letting go of perfect is a journey that requires patience, self-awareness, and practice. 

By recognizing the perfectionism trap, challenging your inner critic, setting realistic goals, embracing imperfection, and focusing on progress, you can release unrealistic standards and thrive in all areas of your life. 

Remember, perfection is a myth. Put stuff out there before you’re ready, and embrace changes as they come your way.

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Chris M Wilson

Chris Wilson is a keynote speaker, CTI coach, and entrepreneur. Through his Hover to Fly framework, he aims to impact the next generation in their careers and lives.

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