Perfectionism refers to self-defeating thoughts and behaviours associated with high and unrealistic goals.

Strict perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success. By never allowing yourself a sense of satisfaction for your achievements you may achieve far less than people with more realistic goals.

Set goals based on your own wants and desires, not the expectations of others. Goals should be realistic, internal, and attainable.

How can I help myself?

The first step is to realise that perfection is unattainable.

The next step is to challenge the self-defeating thoughts and behaviours that fuel perfectionism.

1. Set realistic goals

Set realistic and reachable goals based on your own wants and needs and on what you have accomplished in the past.

2. Aim for modest improvements

Set goals in a sequential manner. As you reach one, set your next goal one level beyond your present level.

3. Try for less than 100%

Experiment with your standards for success. Try for 90%, 80%, or even 60% success. You will realise that the world does not end when you are not perfect.

4. Focus on the process

Concentrate on the activity, not just the end result. Evaluate your success not only in terms of accomplishment but also in terms of enjoyment.

5. Check your thoughts and feelings

Recognise and challenge negative thoughts constructively.

Challenge common thoughts such as "I'm not good enough" by asking "Did I set an impossible expectation for myself?" You can then reassess what you have achieved and how to set better targets in future.

6. Celebrate your mistakes

Many positive things can only be learned by making mistakes. Ask "What can I learn from this experience?"

7. Be more flexible

Learn to discriminate between high priority tasks and those that are less important to you. On less important tasks, choose to put in less effort.