Start by getting the idea itself into perspective. To aim for high standards is not a bad thing. It is satisfying to do well. It also helps ensure some degree of quality to human endeavors. High standards only become a problem when you turn them into demands – in other words, when you believe that you always have to achieve to a high level. The solution is ‘realistic excellence’. Realistic excellence means going for the best you can – but taking into account some realities:

Your personal abilities and limitations (e.g. a disability, or lack of knowledge);
The resources (time, energy, money, etc.) you have available;
The range of activities you want to put those resources into;
Which activities are most important to you; and
Any limiting features of your circumstances over which you have no control.

The idea is to spread your resources round the various things you want to do so that each gets the time and energy you think it deserves. You may elect to put only a little time and energy into one activity, in order to reserve it for another. Let us say, for instance, you would like to mow your lawns once a week. You may decide to settle for every fortnight, because you want to spend more time on a hobby.

You will be freer to make rational choices when you get rid of the irrational thinking that creates perfectionism.

Start by giving up the idea that perfection is possible. Perfection exists only as an idea in the mind. No matter how desirable it may already be, there is nothing that cannot be improved on. Personal attractiveness, architecture, music – everything has some potential to be just that little bit better. This even applies to nature – beautiful gardens usually have weeds. So give up the idea that it is possible for anything to ever reach a point of finalised perfection.

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