How to let go of the perfectionist and love your perfect imperfections

This beautiful song by John Legend resonates strongly within my heart.

His powerful words “love your perfect imperfections” are such a valuable concept that can be applied to your loved ones, and directly to the love for yourself and your ability to grow.

As I reflect on some wonderful comments from my previous post on practicing mindful habits, I notice an air of anxiety, generated from the overwhelming prospect of additional tasks in our already busy lives.

I get it. I’ve been there too. It was a time not too long ago when I would work hard to control my already hectic schedule, and face the daunting task of perfecting the activities to meet my high standard. There was little room for negotiation, no energy for variation, and as such, limited space for personal growth.

I was a perfectionist.

Since spending time on myself, and looking at ways I could be better, I noticed that perfectionism – rather than being an advantageous trait as I previously thought – was hampering my ability to become better.

To be perfect is to arrive at the final destination. There is no value in perfect, as there is no room for improvement. Improvement requires knowledge, knowledge requires learning, to learn is to grow, growing is living……

I would spend hours cleaning my car every week to ensure a perfect clean.

Meals were prepared according to recipes to ensure quality.

University studies were completed with many iterations and hours of formatting.

My gym routine remained unchanged until I reached the magic goal I had dreamed.

Perfectionism was carving a rut in my road to self improvement.

Over time, I developed an awareness of my ways, and worked on ways to become better. Here’s what I found out…..

How to overcome perfectionism and love your imperfections

Step 1. Recognise the habit

Perfectionism is a well ingrained habit, that’s all.

Maybe I was born with high standards, maybe I learnt from my parents, maybe it was my surroundings. In the end, it’s a way of being I adopted which suited my lifestyle at the time. Perfectionism is a habit which provided security and gave me purpose. That’s no longer the case.

The good news is, habits can be changed.

It takes approximately 30 days of continual practice to build new habits, which seems a long time. Don’t dwell on this. Time passes quickly. Focus on incremental improvements each and every day. Track your progress on a calendar if necessary, so you can see your improvement.

Stop, smell the roses, and recognise the habit of perfectionism as it arises.

Step 2. Breathe

Before doing anything else, just breathe.

Take time to stop and just be in the moment. Giving yourself space before going any further will only elevate your ability to decide and take action.

Step 3. Remind yourself there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’

It’s very easy to turn to others or consult a resource to determine if your future actions are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Truth is, that’s why we do it.

Labelling as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is easy.

The greater truth lies in looking beyond these labels. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in life, only what makes you feel good, and not.

This will be heavily dependent on your values and beliefs of course, which is exactly why the decision or action you are about to undertake is an experience unique to you.

Remind yourself that you’re aiming for an outcome that works for you, not what society has labelled as ‘right’.

Step 4. Ask yourself if the effort is worth the reward

Before coming to a final decision, it’s valuable to consider your options in light of their effectiveness.

You can easily do ineffective tasks productively (check email, social media posting, watching television etc.), so be wary of decisions that lead to quick feelings of productivity. Instead, ask if the effort of the undertaking is paving way for a reward of equal or greater value. 

Align what you do with what you want to achieve.

Make it easier by choosing the path of least resistance to arrive more effectively.

Step 5. Commit to completion

Once you’ve figured out what to do, just get on with it!

Stop second-guessing your motives and speculating failure. Take your ideas and run with them in either of these two directions:

  1. Toward completion – finishing the task and moving forward to new challenges; or
  2. Straight for the eject button – if the idea doesn’t work or doesn’t make you feel good, just drop it. Stop wasting time dwelling on low-value tasks in favour of those that have a greater potential for your growth.

Remember, there is immense value in practicing the art of giving up. If an idea doesn’t work while you are attempting it, or is likely to cause disruption to your progress, commit to dropping it and move on. There’s progress to be made elsewhere.

Step 6. Congratulate yourself

You made it!

You’ve done the hard work, so now it’s time to positively reinforce yourself for breaking through perfectionism and getting important stuff done.

Reflect, socialise, exercise – whatever takes your fancy. Just be sure to devote time for recognition of the hard-fought battle against your perfectionist ways. You’ll get motivated to do even better next time.

When the going gets tough and you find you’re at a stand-still, embrace imperfections! Not everything needs to meet a high standard. In many cases, it’s more important to get things done and move on – learning, growing, and progressing toward your goals. If you’re stuck, you now have 6 simple steps to help you out:

  • Step 1. Recognise the habit
  • Step 2. Breathe
  • Step 3. Remind yourself there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’
  • Step 4. Ask is the effort worth the reward
  • Step 5. Commit to completion
  • Step 6. Congratulate yourself.

Go forth and conquer!

Have you ever struggled with perfectionism? How have you overcome it? Please share in the comments below 🙂

Thanks for reading my work.

Like it? Please share with your friends on social media. The more people I can inspire, the happier I’ll be.

Until next time…..

Yours in inspiration,


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