What you can do

Recognise your perfectionism

Acknowledge it and how it impacts on you. Challenging your perfectionist tendencies requires a change in the way you think and do things. This is never easy. The first thing to do is to stop and assess your situation, then take definite steps to change.

Set realistic goals

Try to get an overview of your situation and ask yourself what you really want. Keep this in mind when you set your goals and be realistic about what you can achieve. Check with a close friend or a counsellor whether they think your goals are realistic and achievable.

Value the process as much as the result

Break your big goals into smaller tasks for an ongoing sense of achievement. When writing an essay, enjoy the thinking and research as much as your final grade.

Keep things in perspective

Step back and try to be aware of obsessive behaviour. You may, for example, find yourself sacrificing everything to get ‘HD for an essay or exam’. What about the other important things in your life? Learn to distinguish which tasks are important and give the greatest return – put effort into those tasks.

Acknowledge and learn from your mistakes

Remember – no mistakes, no progress. Be open with yourself and others about the mistakes you've made. Value people's comments and criticism and learn from them.

Be a self-supporter

Turn self-criticism into affirmation and encouragement. Instead of backing away from something because you feel you can't do it well enough, say to yourself, "I'll do the best I can in these circumstances" or "I know this isn't the perfect answer to this exam question but I can at least say something for which I’ll get some marks still." If you are feeling over-anxious about something, ask yourself, “Am I expecting too much? What are the consequences of not achieving perfection? What else is important?”

Online support and apps that help

The Centre for Clinical Intervention has a useful information package designed to help you understand what is helpful and unhelpful about being a perfectionist.


To learn techniques to help you sleep better, focus more and get some relief from a busy mind, try Headspace (iOS and Android) or Smiling Mind (iOS).

Other tips

  • The RMIT University Student Union (RUSU) provides students with fun events, representation and support. RUSU has over 90 clubs and societies that you can join and is available to assist students with a range of support such as welfare, education issues, or using one of their safe spaces.
  • Find out what Chaplaincy offers in meditation and yoga this semester.
  • Check out what sports and fitness activities are available at RMIT.