Defined as, “a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection,” a perfectionist can be a dangerous things. It might seem like a good thing because perfectionism is the practice of everything needing to be perfect, but it’s not a good thing. In fact, it can lead to many serious issues in our lives.
How do you Know if You’re a Perfectionist?
There are several signs that will point towards being a perfectionist and the most prominent usually comes from people around you telling you that you’re a perfectionist or making comments, such as “that’s good enough,” and “leave it alone, it’s fine.” Some of the other signs include:
- No room for mistakes in your life. If you see a mistake, you have to fix it immediately.
- You’re very specific about how something gets done and everything must conform to your approach or it will never be good enough.
- You may not care so much about the process of how something gets done, but the end result better be perfect. If it’s not, you will often feel devastated and annoyed.
- You are very hard on yourself, especially if something doesn’t go right.
- If you don’t achieve one of your goals, you will become depressed and you will blame yourself.
- Your standards are so high that nobody can continuously reach them. This can cause you endless stress as you set high targets that are nearly impossible, if not impossible to reach.
- You will procrastinate to make sure something is done at the “right” moment and you’re always waiting for that “right” moment. You don’t even want to start until you’re “ready” to deliver the best possible quality, but your “readiness” may never come.
- You see mistakes all the time where other people don’t. Some of these so-called mistakes may be self-imagined.
- You will invest more time than others just to make sure something it perfect. You may even give up sleep, your own health or personal time to make sure something is absolutely perfect.
Maybe all of these traits sound like you or just a few of them do. Either way, perfectionism is dangerous and you have to be aware of the perfectionists inside of you. It can become very neurotic and you can actually become a bit of a narcissist, if you’re not careful. Others will often see you as the person they can never please, which will become exhausting and you may lose friends, family members and even your spouse due to these traits.
Perfectionism doesn’t have to hold you back or hurt your relationships, however. It can be harnessed to help you do very well in certain settings, but you have to be very aware of your tendencies. Just like anybody else, the perfectionist carries their cross; it’s just different and can be masked in what seems like a good thing.
Why Perfectionism is Imperfect
When you’re asked to write down your strengths and weaknesses, there are qualities you possess that may end up on both sides. For men, stubbornness was one of them. It can be a great thing when you’re standing up for what you believe in, but a huge weakness when you cannot let go of something you need to let go of to move forward.
Perfectionism is much the same, as it can end up as strength; often masked as detail-oriented, and it’s certainly a weakness. When everything has to be perfect, it makes imperfection unacceptable, which can lead to huge struggles in the imperfect world we live in.When everything has to be perfect, it makes imperfection unacceptable Click To Tweet
The perfectionist is usually a perpetual worrier, feels high levels of anxiety, becomes exhausted because of the worry, struggles in relationships and feels more shame than others. They believe they are not good enough and never will be good enough, which means they struggle to accept themselves. Happiness is hard for the perfectionist to even pursue because it will never be perfect.
Do you Have to Remain a Perfectionist?
Perfectionist isn’t something that has to remain permanent. You can start to become aware of your tendencies and teach yourself to be more accepting. Learning to view mistakes as opportunities to grow and learning to accept your imperfect human nature will help you succeed in many aspects of life.
Some of the most intelligent, most innovative, most successful people have made huge mistakes in their life. Mistakes lead to growth. If you were always perfect, you wouldn’t need to grow, but no human is perfect and we are built to continually grow. Our job is to let go of the need to be or appear perfect and enjoy the journey for what it is, not what we think it should be.
When you accept your imperfections, you actually gain freedom. You don’t have to live a life in the shadow of perfectionism any longer. You can start taking steps to a happier, more satisfied life without the need for everything to be absolutely perfect.
What Perfectionists Often Struggle With the Most
Perfectionism may seem like a good thing because you want everything to be perfect. You’d think this would lead to more happiness and a better world, but it doesn’t. Perfectionists struggle with many things including:
- Procrastination – This is due to the need for everything to be perfect, so the perfectionist has to wait for the right time to start a task.
- Doesn’t see the World for What it is – A perfectionist doesn’t have the best grip on reality and they often see/hear things (even themselves) differently than what is truly real.
- Finding Happiness – A perfectionist struggles to be happy as themselves because they will never be perfect.
- Staying Healthy – The perfectionist doesn’t know when to stop, so they may be up super late working on something and back at it again without much sleep. They cannot help it and they will often write this off as determination as their health deteriorates.
- Struggle to let things go – A perfectionist cannot delegate, doesn’t know how to turn off the work and will worry about something until it’s perfect.
These struggles are very real for a perfectionist and the first step to living a happier, healthier life is admitting perfectionism is a problem you struggle with. This is the hardest part because it means letting go of something you have accepted as a part of you and letting go of the “that is just who I am” mantra you and others have been feeding you all your life.
Just like with anything else we struggle with, perfectionism can be beat, but it will be a long hard journey. Of course, nothing easy garners rewards worth your effort, so the rewards at the end of the journey will be substantial. Anytime we bear our cross and work hard to better ourselves (especially for the benefit of those we love) the rewards are substantial.
Start with your goals. As a perfectionist you certainly have goals you’ve set for yourself. However, they are not just lofty, but nearly impossible. Not only do you set insane deadlines, but you also expect far too much out of yourself. This is probably something you mask by saying you’re shooting for a high target.
While many preach the aim high philosophy and it might work for some, it doesn’t work for the perfectionist. If you’re not going to be happy achieving 80% of your goal, don’t set it so high. As a perfectionist, you have to be a bit easier on yourself because you have a tendency to set goals far too high to achieve.
Embrace your imperfections. This is a big one and very difficult for the perfectionist. You have to look at your imperfections as part of what makes you a unique person instead of what makes you imperfect. When you see something as imperfect, you want to fix it instead of embrace it. We are only human and will never be perfect. The sooner you can truly accept that, the better.
Leave procrastination in the past. No more putting off what can be done today just because you don’t feel like it’s the “right” time or you’re not “ready.” Challenge yourself to do it anyway and work on learning how to just get started. Even if the timing doesn’t feel just right, take action immediately, instead.
Procrastination tends to hurt your self-confidence and it hurts your productivity. Don’t let it rob you of your happiness. Instead, start doing things now instead of when it feels just right.
View mistakes as opportunities. Click To Tweet
View mistakes as opportunities. One of the biggest differences between a truly happy and joyful person and someone that isn’t so happy is how they view the world. No matter how hard something is, it can be an opportunity or devastation. It’s up to you to choose how you view it.
As a perfectionist, you struggle with mistakes. However, each mistake you make or find is an opportunity for growth. Start seeing mistakes as opportunities to grow and learn and you will be better off for it.
There are many other ways you can work on conquering your perfectionism. The first step is to truly become aware of the perfectionist within you. Some may be full blown perfectionists while others just struggle with some of the traits. When we become aware of who we are, what we struggle with and how we can move forward, we have a better chance of becoming the better version of ourselves we are meant to be.