THE BLOG
11/25/2014 08:16 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2015

8 Ways to Break Up With Perfection

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For decades, we've been encouraged to strive for the ever-illusive notion of perfection -- having the perfect body or being the perfect mom or grinding it out at the perfect job so you can build a perfect bank account and live in the perfect home.

The truth is, perfection doesn't exist. And the fact that it's unattainable is what keeps so many people running on the hamster wheel, miserable and stuck in their current situations, usually exhausted and uninspired, detached from what makes them who they are, disconnected from their dreams and secret aspirations, waiting for "one day when..." It's depressing just thinking about it.

Like any unhealthy relationship you let drag on way longer than it should, it's time we all break up with perfection. Being a perfectionist should not be a badge of honor.

Here are eight ways to make it a clean break:

1. Have an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is a popular theme these days, and for good reason. There are countless studies that prove the benefits of gratitude including greater health and happiness, reduced stress and anxiety and even a prolonged life. When you're grateful for what you have, it's easier to put things in perspective.

2. Get clear on your "why"
Make a list of why you do what you do. Why do you get up and go to work? Why do you pay your mortgage? Why do you choose the clothes you wear? Why? Why? Why? When you break down what's driving all of your choices you'll discover what it is you truly value in your life. It could be your kids, your spouse, your spirituality, anything. And once you can connect with your why, it's easier to release the need for perfection because you'll focus more on what matters to you.

3. Don't compromise on your core desired feelings
If you're not familiar with Danielle LaPorte's work I highly encourage you to look her up. Her concept of core desired feelings (in a very small nutshell: the main three to five feelings you want to have consistently in your life) is excellent for banishing perfectionism. Think about how you want to feel every day. Is it playful, joyful plus supported? Or maybe connected, spiritual plus lighthearted? Or passionate, motivated plus excited? The feelings are entirely up to you. But once you've figured out exactly how it is you want to feel, you can take stock of your life and evaluate if everything you're doing and striving for honor your core desired feelings. Think about where you're spending your time. Do you spend most of your time doing things that make you feel the opposite of how you actually want to feel? If you're striving for perfection, the answer is probably yes.

4. Put your own oxygen mask on first
A lot of the perfectionism I see with my private coaching clients is the belief that they need to be the perfect mom, wife, daughter, friend, sister, cousin, employee, and oh yeah, also have the perfect body and house. Commonly, they feel that in order to be the best for everyone else, they have to put themselves last, even if it means rarely sleeping and feeling miserable. In order to thrive in your own life and be the best you can be for the people you care about, you unequivocally must make yourself your top priority. If you're not feeling good your relationships and how you show up for others is going to suffer. So ironically, in order to really be there for the people you love, you need to be there for yourself first.

5. Stop comparing
As Teddy Roosevelt once said: "Comparison is the thief of joy." You're never going to be happy, or feel like you can stop struggling for perfection, if you're comparing yourself to other people. We live in a no pain, no gain society. We justify feeling bad most of the time because "one day" we'll be able to take the trip, buy the house, or (fill in the blank). If you keep your eyes on your own paper it will be a lot easier for you to be happy with what you have and work for what you desire in a more balanced way because you won't feel the pressure of what you think you need to have in order to be successful. Which brings me to the next step...

6. Figure out whose dream you're living plus if it's not your own, find a way to start living it now
Is your career based on what your parents or society told you is the right way to become successful? Are your choices based on what you really want for yourself or because you think it's what you should do. Think about your core desired feelings and create a new dream for yourself based on living the life you want to live, not the life someone else thinks you should have. Whenever you hear yourself thinking or saying "should", it's usually a good indicator it's not aligned with how you want to feel.

7. Shake it off
You have to give it to Taylor Swift. The girl gets it. The haters are gonna hate, hate, hate and you've just got to shake it off! There's always going to be someone who has something to say about who/what/when/why you're doing something, and guess what, it's none of your business what other people think of you. When I was planning my wedding (sidebar: big events tend to bring out the perfection bug so be prepared!) the best advice my mom gave me was that no matter what choices I made there would always be someone who would think they would, or did, do it better than me. So instead of worrying about what other people think, just do you. Just shake it off. Mentally shaking it off is great, and I also find that physically shaking it off works miracles - cue Taylor Swift and do a quick dance in your living room now!

8. Ask for support
You can have it all, but you can't do it all. By having it all I don't mean having the "perfect life". I mean feeling the way you want to feel most of the time. And no one can do that alone. We all need help, support, encouragement and accountability. It's human nature to need support and the ideal of perfectionism forces us to figure it all out on our own, which is unnatural and unhealthy.

Authenticity is the new perfection. If you want to strive for something, strive for that. Then you know you'll be in alignment with who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world.

I'd love to hear in the comments below how you would live differently if you were striving for authenticity instead of perfection.


Written by Silvana Perelli, Weight Loss & Life Coach, and also recovering perfectionist. She's the founder of bellequaintrelle.com, an online playground for women to find inspiration, support, and community. In addition to helping women break up with perfectionism she also teaches the art of the being a women in her virtual course, Charm School. For more inspiration you can sign up for free updates on her website and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest , Facebook & Twitter.