Perfectionism surfaces in what you think, what you feel, and what you do. In order to retrain yourself, you’ll need to change things in each of these categories to make the biggest difference. In the end, you’ll be more productive, more satisfied, and closer in your personal relationships.

Change Your Thoughts

First, accept yourself for who you are. You’re talented and capable, and it’s about time you get some respect for it from yourself.

Don’t allow your negative self-talk to bully you! It’s better to have an honest discussion with your inner critic, listen to what it has to say, and respond honestly to its point of view. You need to get beyond the cruel and unforgiving accusations and concentrate instead on constructive problem-solving.

Choose to make your critic a positive and respective voice that helps instead of hurts you. Replace thoughts that tell you that you have to be perfect with more practical and useful advice for yourself, such as:

● “No one is perfect.”
● “My best is good enough.”
● “Everyone makes mistakes. The best I can do is try to learn from those mistakes”
● “Words like ‘should,’ ‘shouldn’t,’ and ‘not good enough’ make me feel guilty. I see these as irrational and destructive words that do me harm. I’m eliminating them from my thoughts now.”
● “I’m an imperfect person who cannot always be the ideal and have no faults. I’m doing my best and working hard to be excellent, realizing that perfection is impossible.”

Try thinking from another person’s perspective. How would they see it if you were working tirelessly on a report that they would be able to finish quickly? How would you advise a friend if you saw them in that situation?

Change Your Feelings

Feeling anxious, scared, ashamed, frustrated, or guilty as many perfectionists do will only lead to misery. To avoid making yourself feel this way, set achievable goals and be willing to view yourself with more empathy and understanding. Compassionately see that perfectionist thoughts and feelings are figments of your imagination and are able to be better grasp the realities about yourself and your work.

Feel respect for yourself and appreciate your talents and skills. You know you can’t do everything perfectly, but you celebrate what you can do well. Think of yourself as your own loving parent or wise teacher, and use language that you think those people would use with you.

Change Your Actions

Being a high achiever means that your actions show confidence. You accept responsibility for your actions and take pride in the things you do. You’re productive and capable of overcoming challenges. You connect with positive people and become more productive as a result.

You have the drive to achieve and the will to succeed, and you make goals to reflect that drive. Doing so leaves you in more command of what happens to you and allows you to focus on the things that take priority and need changed in your life. You make things happen: you’re a doer.


With all this in your pocket, you can go about happily, certain of your abilities. In order to start putting away perfectionist tendencies and being a high achiever, write down each perfectionist attribute you want to convert and a plan of how to do so. Write what you want to transform, what to transform it into, and when you will begin. Keep a log of how these changes are progressing, what victories you experience, which tendencies are more difficult to deal with, and suggestions for handling them in a healthier manner. Keep track of your progress and celebrate your victories along your path.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 15,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 17 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers several online courses and e-books as well as coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website Are you having difficulty in your workplace? If so, check out Vivian's website to learn how to increase your self-confidence at work and do a better job. You can do better!