Friday, October 1, 2010

Overcoming Perfectionism

So after yesterday’s post I trust you see how counterproductive perfectionism is. It is not your friend!  It works you like a slave.  Or else, paralyzes you from accomplishing anything for fear of not performing perfectly. It saps your joy, sidelines you from opportunities, and erodes your relationships.
Are you are ready to kick it to the curb?

Great – but you’re probably gonna need Jesus in order to do that. 

These are deep-seated tendencies.  Knee-jerk ways of thinking. Auto-pilot ways of reacting.  They will take time, effort and some supernatural help to overcome. But I assure you IT CAN BE DONE. Nothing is impossible with God. 

No, that doesn’t mean that if you have God you can work full-time as the top employee, raise 3 well-mannered & high-achieving kids, keep a beautiful large home, cook regularly, serve as PTA vice-president, teach Sunday school, make your own hand-stamped cards, volunteer at the soup kitchen, plant annuals every spring, stick to a vegan diet plan, read a book a week, keep your nail polish from chipping, never forget a  friend’s birthday, and run marathons. It means that with God you have all you need for life and godliness – including the ability to overcome the tyranny of perfectionism.

chipped-polish We have to come back to the sobering truth we started with in Monday’s devotion, and chapter 7 of the book.  And that is that “life and godliness” is not about stain-free carpets, blemish-free faces, chip-free nail polish and typo-free reports. It’s about giving and receiving love. It’s the character of our heart, not the surface level issues we’re stressing over. We have to reprogram with this truth.

With all that said, I promised you some practical strategies for overcoming perfectionism, and here they are:
  • Set realistic, reachable goals based on what you have accomplished in the past. This will enable you to rein in unrealistic expectations and experience the satisfaction of achievement.
  • Set subsequent goals in a sequential manner. As you reach a reasonable goal, set your next goal one step beyond your present level of accomplishment.
  • Relax your standards for success. Everything does not need to be perfect –in fact, everything cannot be. Choose any activity and instead of aiming for 100 percent, try for 90 percent, 80 percent, or even 70 percent success. This will help you to realize that the world does not end when you are giving less than 100%.
  • Learn to discriminate among tasks.  Decide which tasks you want to give high priority to and which are are less important to you. On less important tasks, purposely put forth less effort in favor of increased rest and emotional stability.
  • Focus on the process of doing an activity, not just the end result. Evaluate your success not only in terms of what you accomplished but also in terms of how you accomplished it. Did you remain calm and loving?  Did you enjoy the process?
  • Use feelings of anxiety and depression as opportunities to question yourself: “Have I set impossible expectations for myself in this situation?” “Am I giving in to fear?” “Have I lost sight of what’s essential in God’s eyes?
  • Confront the fears that may be behind your perfectionism by asking yourself, “What am I afraid of?” “What is the worst thing that could happen?” “… What does the Bible say?”
  • Recall a recent mistake you made and list things you can learn from it. Mistakes are powerful learning tools. Most growth and success involves learning thru mistakes.
  • Pray daily, giving your stresses and to-do list to Christ to oversee. Remember that His priority is your character and relationships, over your accomplishments. Meditate on verses like 2 Peter 1:3, Psalm 18:30-32, Ecclesiastes 7:16-18, and 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Have a great weekend this weekend with your friends & family.  And don’t sweat the small stuff!! I’m off on a weekend getaway with my crew to Myrtle Beach.  But I’ll check in here some so feel free to comment.


  1. Thanks Rachel! Your words are very encouraging. My problem seems to be the lack of initiative or motivation to actually do anything productive anywhere (house, family, kingdom, job). I don't know if it's fear of failure, rejection, or feelings of inferiority. I will definitely pray and leave all of this to the Lord. He alone can do something with it!

  2. Geez're speaking to me, girl!
    Thank you!

    I want to kick this....and I know I can!

  3. Thanks Rachel! I find myself taking on too much and trying to get it all done in one day. Often times I am exhausted and stressed because I try so hard. Thanks again for your encouraging words and inspiration. I will definitely make some much needed changes.

  4. Thanks Rachel! I feel so blessed to have come across this devotion. Perfection is a struggle of mine, and I am beginning to see those same tendencies in my son. The problem is that I know how to cope, but he does not. I am working on myself so that he can learn from me that it is ok when everything doesn't line up in a straight line. Thanks again for sharing.

  5. Thanks so much for encouraging words of wisdom! Your tips on overcoming perfection are just what I needed to hear. I've definitely been struggling with wanting to be the perfect wife and daughter for years and I know its time for me to realize once again that God did not send Jesus to save a perfect people but to save us from our imperfections! Thank you for your thoughts and insight on this subject!


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