Perfectionism 101: 4 Creative Alternatives to Being “Perfect”

Perfectionism 101: 4 Creative Alternatives to Being “Perfect”

Last week, we shared some common signs of perfectionism.

Maybe they got you wondering about your own relationship with “perfect”. Or about a friend or family member.

But where do you go from here? What’s the alternative to perfectionism?

Turns out, there are several!

Today we’re highlighting 4 creative alternatives to being “perfect” that you can start practicing right away:

1. Be creative.

Jazz stands for freedom. It’s supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don’t be a perfectionist…

Dave Brubeck

Creativity is one of our most valuable assets when it comes to promoting our own emotional wellness.

Unfortunately, when we’re striving to be perfect, it’s easy to let our insecurities get in the way of exploring our creative instincts.

Aim for messy exploration, and you’ll be amazed by the creativity stored up inside you!


  • Put together a creativity kit or space in your home. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or pricey. Just assemble some basic materials you can use creatively, and designate a spot where you can use them.
  • Make time to be creative. The next time you sit down to consume something (e.g., TV, social media posts, news) why not try creating something instead? Check in with yourself afterwards and pay attention to how you feel? Notice any difference?

2. Be mindful.

Present over perfect.

Shauna Niequist

One of the ways perfectionism becomes so all-consuming is that it hijacks our attention and forces it onto the past (e.g., mistakes and regrets) or the future (e.g., worries and fears). 

By developing a simple habit of mindfulness, anyone can learn to remain grounded in the here and now.

In other words: Focus on what already is, and you’ll be less distracted by the pressure to strive for what “ought” to be.


  • Set a timer for 2 minutes and sit quietly with your eyes closed. Focus on your breathing and noticing any sensations in your body. If a thought comes up, don’t try to force it away or give it too much of your attention. Simply take note of it and then bring your focus back to your breath.
  • Download a meditation app (e.g., Headspace, Calm) and commit to using it for 5 days in a row.

3. Be brave.

I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Not only is perfectionism a sure-fire way to experience shame and even burnout… it’s also a sure-fire way to stifle growth.

When the goal is to be perfect, then every new opportunity becomes risky. Every new challenge brings the threat of failure.

By shifting the goal from “perfect” to brave, we can step outside of the perfectionism trap and give ourselves the chance to grow in new ways.


  • Choose 1 way to challenge yourself today. Maybe it’s a new skill you’ve been wanting to pick up. Or perhaps it’s a conversation you’ve been afraid to have. Make the choice to step outside your comfort zone long enough to prove your fears wrong.
  • Parent? Professional or volunteer who works with kids? Watch this and commit to encouraging bravery over perfection.

4. Be grateful.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.

Melody Beattie

When it comes to emotional wellness, sometimes it feels like all roads lead back to gratitude.

And with good reason!

Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to step out of the trap of striving for perfect.


  • Keep a gratitude journal and pen by your bed. (You can buy one or just use a notebook you have on hand.) Each morning before you start the day, write down 3 things you’re thankful for. OR each night, before bed, write down 3 things you’re grateful for that happened during the day. (Have a partner or roommate? Bonus points if you share your answers with them!)
  • Ready for more of a challenge? Try practicing gratitude even when life feels difficult.


Enjoy this post? You might also like:

Perfectionism 101: 3 Perfectionism Myths
Perfectionism 101: 6 Signs You Might Be a Perfectionist
Habit Change in 3 Easy(-ish) Steps


Could you use some help putting these emotional wellness habits into practice?