How many times have you heard someone brag about being “a bit of a perfectionist?” You might have even said this yourself!
It’s one of those traits that you can almost admire, as long as you don’t look too far past the surface.
Are you worried that you expect too much out of yourself? You might be a perfectionist. Learn some of the signs below, where it could have come from, and steps to take become a little less hard on yourself.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a personality trait that is characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self evaluation and concern with the opinion of others.
Perfectionism can create a few great things, but it causes undue stress and it can totally halt your progress on everything but the one single task that you are trying to get perfect. It causes people to stress more, but actually achieve less.
Being a perfectionist can be holding you back from achieving your true potential. Perfectionists will typically have a pretty high fear of failure, which can totally stop you from achieving your goals. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know my stance on failure. I think failing is essential to success. It’s all about the mindset that you carry with you every day.
5 signs of being a perfectionist
Are you a perfectionist? It’s OK to say yes even if you feel like you’ve been put on blast from the beginning of this article!
1. You have very high standards for yourself and others.
While expecting a lot out of yourself isn’t a bad thing, expecting perfection can cause more stress and anxiety than you need.
This becomes a major obstacle when you are up against a deadline. Perfectionists will keep tweaking and tweaking until they think that whatever it is that they are working on is totally perfect.
This also causes issues if you are working in a group with others. They may think that you are being critical of what they are doing, and stop attempting to help.
2. You can’t stop thinking about it when you mess up.
We all make mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t truly pushing yourself to become the best version of yourself that you can be.
Perfectionists get very upset when they make mistakes. Failure isn’t an option for perfectionists, even though failure is the best way to actually build confidence in yourself.
If you catch yourself being too self critical after making a mistake, then take a step back and remind yourself that mistakes are the best way to learn and get better.
3. You are highly focused on results.
Setting goals is an important part of personal development, but if you are only focused on the results of those goals then you will never be able to achieve your full potential.
The problems arise when you are so hyper focused on the results that you forget to trust the process. Part of achieving the most out of life is learning what processes work best for you.
I talk more about how achieving your goals and dreams depend totally on the processes that you have in place for yourself in my goal setting guide. It totally changed the way I do things when I started to understand to look at the small daily actions that I’m taking rather than just looking at the results.
4. You procrastinate. A lot.
This is one of the effects of a few of the signs that we talked about above. You are hyper critical of yourself. You are afraid of failure. You can’t stop thinking about it when you mess up. So you just don’t do anything.
You put everything off until the last minute because you know that as soon as you start on the task, you will start stressing and judging yourself. It makes you so much less productive when you expect perfection from yourself.
5. You never celebrate your successes.
Being a perfectionist means that no matter how well you do something, you will always think that you can do better.
You could give a killer presentation, build an awesome project, or even write an amazing article, but you will still feel like you should have done better.
It’s hard to be a perfectionist for this reason alone, not to mention all of the others that we talked about. It means that you can never be happy with your performance.
What causes perfectionism?
There’s a lot that goes into becoming a perfectionist. It normally doesn’t just happen overnight.
Some people who are perfectionists were high achievers at a young age. This puts pressure on them to continue to continue to achieve more than the people around them.
External pressure from parents or other authority figures can cause perfectionist behavior. If the people around you are expecting you to continue to be a high achiever, then that can cause you to have the same thoughts about yourself. These thoughts can start to manifest themselves as expectations of perfection.
There are many scholarly articles about the causes of perfectionism that have been researched and developed by psychologists. If you are interested in learning more about what could have caused you to become a perfectionist, then I highly recommend consulting a qualified psychologist.
Becoming a perfectionist took a lifetime. You’re not going to stop the perfectionist tendencies overnight. It is going to be a process. It’s going to take real effort and it won’t always be comfortable.
Take daily action and trust that you will make it to where you want to go. Develop your whys so that you have something to reflect on when you start to lose faith in the process.
Keep a journal to track your daily progress. Take note of when you are feeling like you aren’t doing good enough. Also, give yourself praise when you notice that you are making progress towards becoming better at keeping your perfectionist tendencies out of your thoughts.
Start being deliberate in the actions that you are taking. When you catch yourself trying to make something too perfect, move on to the next task.
Adopt the mantra “done is better than perfect.” This has been the biggest game changer for me personally when trying to learn how to be less of a perfectionist.
Expecting perfection can kill your productivity. Learning how to be more productive with your time can help you see all the time that is wasted by expecting perfection from everything that you do.
Wrapping it up
If you truly believe that you are being too much of a perfectionist and have tried to overcome it using some of the advice from this article, but it hasn’t worked, then I urge you to reach out to someone for help. A lot of us struggle with anxiety, stress, or depression and we need to feel comfortable reaching out for help.
I hope this article has shed light on what perfectionism is and how to overcome it. If you have any tips of your own, then I’d love to hear them!