Day 9 – Perfectionism versus Healthy Striving

By now you will have been encouraged to check in at least once, and twice if you were here for the prep days. We hope you are starting to notice positive changes and are feeling good about yourself – both what you have already achieved and what you are aiming to achieve.

We really want you to have a full and successful MOB, 31-days alcohol free. But even with the best planning in the world, and using your daily ritual to develop great solutions for possible pitfalls, unexpected things can happen. When they do, there’s a chance we might have a minor slip-up because we just weren’t prepared and reacted on impulse.  

If this does happen (and we hope it doesn’t) – don’t discount your entire MOB as ruined, or incomplete, don’t label it or yourself a failure.

If you believe that anything less than 100% perfection is a failure, or pointless, you are more likely to feel bad about yourself for slip-ups and less-than-perfect results, and are far more likely to abandon your MOB entirely. Because why bother if it’s not 100% perfect, right?

But there’s no such thing as the perfect MOB (or person). There’s just YOUR best possible MOB.  

The Difference Between Healthy Striving and Perfectionism

But surely it’s good to have big goals, ambition, high expectations, and set challenges for ourselves?

Indeed it is. The difference between the negative aspects of perfectionism and what has been referred to as ‘healthy striving’ is in the attitude with which a person approaches their goals, how they respond to ‘less than 100%’ results, and the beliefs they hold about themselves when they don’t achieve perfection.

A recent study by Andy Hill looked at lots of research on perfectionism, and found that holding high expectations – whatever the goal or area of life – isn’t in itself unhealthy.

When things go wrong however, is when the highly ambitious person is also extremely self-critical, taking it as a reflection on themselves as a person (‘I am a failure’) if they fail to meet their very challenging goals. This kind of attitude and thinking can lead to burnout, and the person will experience more extreme negative emotions if they aren’t 100% perfect. Perfectionists are highly focused on end results, so are less likely to enjoy the process of getting those results.

On the other hand, someone who has high standards and sets challenging goals for themselves who is able to adopt an attitude of healthy striving is more likely to enjoy the process of working toward their goals, is able to examine and learn from their mistakes, and enjoys the whole journey not just the final destination.


Healthy Striving Perfectionist Concerns
Might feel some anxiety or fear of failure – but these are contained and used to create energy to work towards goals
(healthy pressure)
Preoccupied with fear of failure and how disappointing it would be to fall short. Anxieties about disapproval and what others think
Has high standards.
Works hard and is committed to meeting these high standards
Demands 100% perfection.
Less than 100% is a ‘failure’
Sees mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning Finds it very difficult to tolerate their mistakes and failures
Does not base their self-worth on whether they meet their high standards Views mistakes (less than 100%) as ‘evidence’ of their unworthiness as a person. ‘I am a failure’
Enjoys the process as well as the outcome Focus on results, fails to enjoy the process
Bounces back from failure and disappointment quickly and with energy More extreme reactions to failures and disappointments – likely to experience greater anxiety, distress, depression, when not meeting high standards

How we think about ourselves, and our attitudes and beliefs about ‘success’ and ‘failure’ aren’t going to change overnight. But we do hope that at least during your MOB you can try to adopt the outlook of a healthy striver.

That way, if a slip should happen, you can choose to examine and learn from it, accept that less than 100% is good enough for you and does not make you a failure or a bad person, and continue to enjoy the rest of the MOB journey!

(We aren’t giving you permission to ‘rehearse’ or ‘plan’ for a slip here – we just want you to have a more logical way of thinking about and responding to a slip, should one happen)  

Your actions for today

  • Do you recognise either the perfectionist or the healthy striver in yourself? What mindset best reflects how you are approaching your MOB?
  • Think of one constructive thing you can say to yourself or do that will help you remind yourself to adopt a healthy striving mindset should a slip occur.
  • Visit the Facebook group and tell us what you think about today’s post. 

One Response to “Day 9 – Perfectionism versus Healthy Striving

  • Andrea Pritchard
    4 years ago

    Tough Day today work wise, I think I identify as a Perfectionist, due to a tough childhood, which makes life harder then it needs to be. Bid of a melt down today but managed to get through the day and evening and no wine . So behind with reading posts and watching webinars ECT, need yo make time for myself over Easter. Ax

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