In my ongoing quest to stop being a perfectionist and instead just be a human being, I have found the following strategies to be useful.
1. Get a dog. Dogs don’t care if you’re perfect; they only care that you love them.
2. Reframe the idea of perfection. Decide it is impossible, or decide it encompasses more than a single rigid definition, or go all philosophical and decide that imperfection is perfect in its own way.
3. Spend time around people who appreciate your natural strengths.
4. Spend time around people who are okay when you falter.
5. In fact, spend lots of energy finding awesome people with whom to surround yourself. This helps with all sorts of things if you are paying attention.
6. Distinguish between situations in which you must present yourself professionally at all costs and those (often in your personal life) in which you have some more leeway.
7. For the latter, force yourself to be honest. Especially when you really don’t want to admit that you need help or that you’re having a rough time.
8. Accept that not all people are going to understand or believe your honesty. Change your response to this from a panicked “I must seek their approval at all costs” to a shrug. Be grateful for those who are supportive. (And if none of those exist in your life yet, go back to number 5 and try some more. They are out there.)
9. Remember that you are one person and that therefore you cannot do all the things. Even if other people want you to. Even if you want to.
10. Realize you can’t control everything, and that perfection doesn’t automatically equal happiness.
11. Actually, not only does perfection not equal happiness, it sometimes equals stress, burn-out, dysfunctional relationships, isolation, and despair. Remind yourself of its downsides when you’re having trouble letting go.
12. Embrace the cheesiness and tell yourself you love yourself. Tell this to yourself even more when you think you’ve fallen short.