Perfectionism and how to manage it

Perfectionism comes from a belief that you must be perfect in everything you do to be accepted by others. As a result of this belief, your self esteem becomes reliant on the work you produce and the approval of those around you. The need to always please others and be nothing less than perfect can leave you feeling useless, burnt out, hollow, and far from perfect.

Perfectionism and your study

Being perfectionistic in your study is not only unnecessary, but time consuming and unproductive. The considerable time spent gaining a few extra marks on one assessment, is time taken away from getting the majority of your marks on another assessment. Never lose sight of your ultimate goal, the gaining of your degree.

Setting goals based on perfectionism is unrealistic and unattainable. More useful are those that are set to try and achieve results that are 'good'. 'Good' results allow you to vary the level of achievement and effort that is required based on what you realistically need. If you need Distinctions or better to be offered an Honours year, then aim for 80%. If you are doing a unit out of your major and the result has no impact on your career or course progression, 'good' may be a Pass and an enjoyable time broadening your knowledge.

Quick tips

  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Set the next goal based on how well you achieved the previous goal.
  • Deliberately aim for less than 100% on something that doesn't require it - find out that things are not as bad as you fear if you are not perfect.
  • Focus on and enjoy the process of learning, reading something of interest, talking to peers, and being in a class discussion.
  • Discuss your perfectionism with a counsellor.

Getting help at Deakin

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