Standard shifting means adjusting as circumstances change. Our standards are what we use to judge whether something is good enough, clean enough, pretty enough, done well enough.


Perfectionists have very high, rigid standards, and they have trouble adjusting to the changing demands of life. When we are under stress, it is very easy to lose perspective. Problems that are relatively minor can take on an apparent size that makes them seem difficult and intimidating.

Naturally this feeds our stress, which makes our problems feel worse, which compounds our feeling of stress. If we take a positive approach to life, trying to find a good side to every situation, then we will find that we are much less prone to stress. In turn, we will worry less, sleep better and enjoy life more. An important part of this is learning to view mistakes as learning experiences – if we have learned something from a mistake, then it has a positive value.

When we face what seems to be a huge and overwhelming problem, it helps to ask ourself the following questions:

•​Is this really a problem at all?
If we view it in a different way, is it actually an opportunity to do something well? If it really is a difficult problem, then most other people will probably fail at it or give up. If we can deal with the situation, then this will be a major triumph. If we take the problem on, then what will we learn from it, whatever the outcome?

•​Is this a problem anyone else has or has had?
If it is, find out how they deal with it or just talk to them to share the problem – they may be glad to talk. If we are facing a problem at work, we can talk to older or more experienced colleagues whom we trust. They will probably have seen the problem before, and may be able to help to put it in perspective.

•​Does it really matter anyway?
If everything goes wrong, will it really matter anyway? If it does, will it matter in six months or a year? Bear in mind that we will probably have plenty of opportunities to correct any failure, or to shine in other ways if things go wrong. As long as we have done our best, and learn from mistakes we make, then we have accomplished something.