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Progress over perfection

Progress over Perfection

By: Damali Reales

As summer draws to a close we find ourselves at the end of one season and the beginning of another. The Fall season in particular often comes with its own challenges and we often have the desire to appear as though we “have it all together”  As we head into the end of the year many of us can feel intense pressure in many areas of life such as: 


  • Back to School: Starting a new school year, transitions from middle school to high school, college to “the real world”
  • Holidays: Creating festivities to “top” the last years or making celebrations “social media worthy”. 
  • Relationships: Having someone to post on social media or even to have a plus one at holiday events 
  • Resolutions: Whether we’ve kept with our New Year’s Resolutions or not, what next resolutions am I planning for the next year? 


The stress we put on ourselves can feel astronomical at times. When considering how our own thoughts impact our feelings and behaviors, it is difficult to imagine performing or functioning when we have extremely high expectations of ourselves. In fact, it is actually very common for people to avoid or put off tasks out of fear of doing them correctly or “the right way”.

These feelings of perfectionism can ironically enough be the block in us working towards our goals or simply doing things we want to do. 


If perfection is your meter for success the unfortunate reality is that, as humans, we are not born to be perfect. Fortunately, there are ways to help combat feelings of perfectionism in order to work towards our goals. 


Tips for Combating Perfectionism:


Acknowledge that you are human:

This may seem obvious, but the fact is very often we forget that mistakes we make are not because we are not competent, but often because we are human. Making mistakes is part of the cost of admission to life. Once you accept the fact that mistakes are things that will happen, less pressure there is to avoid them. 


Ask yourself:

“Would I have this expectation for someone I care about?”: For people who struggle with perfectionism, often the expectations we have for ourselves are much higher than those we have for others. Ask yourself, why do I expect so much from myself if I don’t think that would be realistic for someone else? 


Take that first step:

This can be scary but if you’re someone who struggles with feelings of perfectionism, more likely than not you have considered all the potential obstacles and angles. Being able to identify when planning turns to overthinking or worrying is a key aspect of combating perfectionism. Even taking the smallest step like writing down a goal or making an appointment can give us the momentum to move forward.


Written by Damali Reales

Damali Reales is Registered Social Work Intern

From Damali's bio...

“Damali has extensive experience in child welfare case management where she saw firsthand how mental health and functioning are not only attributed to a person’s mind but also are influenced largely by social, political, and economic circumstances. Her goal is to develop a relationship/environment where her clients feel safe and comfortable exploring who they are and who they would like to be. She is not a therapist that wishes to erase external experiences but rather work within those experiences to help her clients build the life they want.”

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