Are you a perfectionist?
If you’re questioning whether or not you’re a perfectionist, there’s plenty of chance that you are one, at least to a degree.
The problem with perfectionism–and the reason you’ll want to know if you possess any perfectionistic traits and what to do about it–is that perfectionists actually tend to achieve less and stress more than regular high achievers.
I defined what perfectionism is and wrote about how it affects certain areas of my life in the post: what perfectionism looks like for me.
Are You a Perfectionist?
To help you assess your level of perfectionism, I’ve identified 11 signs of a perfectionist:
Perfectionists are much more afraid to fail than others. Because they place so much stock in results and become so disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a very scary prospect. And, since anything less than perfection is seen as ‘failure’, this can lead to procrastination, and completely avoiding the task so as to avoid failure.
Low Self Esteem:
I have always wondered why everyone else but me have such high self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their work that– the kind you can easily feel on your tongue the minute you see them, sake their hands or interact them.
We, perfectionists, tend to be very self-critical and unhappy and suffer from low self-esteem. We can also be lonely or isolated as our critical nature and rigidity can push others away as well. This can lead to lower self-esteem.
Orderly With An Obsessive Knack For Organization:
We, Perfectionists, are very orderly and organized. We like to do things in a certain way and in a certain manner and expect that the people around us will just naturally maintain such organized standards and decorum.
Anything out of order, or moved away from the position we kept it is unacceptable and we often don’t mind going over the entire process just to make sure it’s perfect, sometimes we also don’t mind making others feel the heat of it.
While being a planner, being orderly and organized is a good thing and very much needed, there is a high tendency for us to:
- over plan (never getting off the planning phase just because we are trying to cover every detail to avoid failure),
- have difficulty working with others in a team (because we want everything to go or look a certain “perfect” way)
- or we feel that others might not do the job as good as we would so we try to slog it out all alone and eventually burnout or on the flip side, we avoid contributing to the team’s project so that we don’t take the blame if it fails
- and develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
You have an all-or-nothing approach. It’s either you do everything well, or you don’t do it at all. Perfectionists like to set unrealistically high standards and goals for themselves. However, while other people can be satisfied with doing a great job and achieving excellence (or something close), even if their very high goals aren’t completely met.
Perfectionists will accept nothing less than, well, perfection. ‘Almost perfect’ is seen as a failure. It is either all or nothing. We have the tendency of looking at a task and imagining if we will succeed at it or not. And if there is any sign that we won’t succeed at that task we don’t even attempt it. We also prefer to cancel a particular project and start all over once we have made a mistake– just to have everything turn out perfectly.
You Focus on The End Results:
While most people enjoy the process of pursuing a goal as much or more than the actual reaching of the goal itself. perfectionists see the goal and nothing else. They’re so concerned about meeting the goal and avoiding the dreaded failure that they can’t enjoy the process of growing and striving.
It’s always about the end result. We don’t care what happens in between or in the process of achieving the goal as long as we reach the goal the way it is in our minds. The fear of failure won’t let us enjoy the process of reaching our goals.
As perfectionists, we are far more critical of ourselves than we are of others.
We are extremely hard on ourselves. Whenever something goes wrong, we become overly critical of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s our fault or not, it doesn’t matter if it’s something we can ignore or fix — we’re always quick to beat ourselves up and feel extremely bad about a mistake for a long, long time.
But we also very critical of others. As Perfectionists, we are very quick to spot tiny mistakes and imperfections in our work and in ourselves, as well as in others and their work.
We hone in on these imperfections and have trouble seeing anything else, and we can be very judgmental and hard on ourselves and on others when ‘failure’ does occur. We find it hard to let things go or focus on fixing what’s gone wrong.
We constantly spot mistakes when others don’t see any. While this can simply mean that we’re just very detail-oriented, we often spot mistakes, issues, from a mile away. Sometimes these mistakes are real. Sometimes they seem self-imagined. And we never fail at criticizing ourselves or whoever is involved for it.
Depressed by Unfulfilled Goals:
Perfectionists are much less happy and easygoing than most people. While other people are able to bounce back fairly easily from disappointment and failure, perfectionists tend to beat themselves up much more and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet.
We spend time mulling over outcomes that didn’t turn out as envisioned. We keep wondering “What if?” We blame ourselves for everything that went wrong or what should have been and we begin to badmouth ourselves for failing.
We have extremely high standards. Unfortunately, our goals aren’t always even reasonable. Our initial goals are often set out of reach.
Sometimes, these goals stress us endlessly. We may end up breaking a neck just to reach them. At some point, we become held back by these standards as we procrastinate and stop working on our goals out of fear that we can’t reach them.
Push” vs “Pull”:
Most people tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them, and are happy with any steps made in the right direction.
But us, Perfectionists? We are often pushed toward our goals by a fear of not reaching them, fear of failure, and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure.
We all procrastinate at some point right? But perfectionists tend to procrastinate more.
We procrastinate just to do something at the “right” moment. We shift tasks because we are constantly waiting for the “right” moment to work on our goals. We only want to start when you are “ready,” when we feel like there’s a great chance we will succeed. In reality, this state of “readiness” and “right time” never to come sometimes.
Perfectionism as a trait can be detrimental to productivity, but perfectionism and procrastination tend to go hand in hand. This is because, fearing failure as we do, perfectionists will sometimes worry so much about doing something imperfectly that we become immobilized and fail to do anything at all!
This leads to more feelings of failure, and a vicious cycle is thus perpetuated.
Because a less-than-perfect performance is so painful and scary to perfectionists, they tend to take constructive criticism defensively, while high achievers can see criticism as valuable information to help their future performance.
Can you relate to any of the traits above?
Which of these signs of a perfectionist or traits describes you? For me, that will be all. How about you?
Are you a perfectionist?
If you see some of these perfectionist traits in yourself, don’t despair.
Recognizing that a change may be needed is a very important first step toward creating a more easygoing nature and achieving the inner peace and real success that comes from overcoming perfectionism and being able to say that ‘almost perfect’ is still a job very well done!
Think you’re a perfectionist? Lets Chat in the Comment!