You’ve just won the award or got the promotion, but you just can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’re still not good enough. If you feel under pressure to run a picture-perfect life, it may be because you’re trying to achieve the impossible: perfectionism.

Perfectionism refers to the relentless striving for extremely high standards that are personally demanding. Perfectionists tend to judge their self-worth on their ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards. Although having high standards and goals may help us to achieve things in life, perfectionists actually tend to achieve less and stress more than regular high achievers. Simply put, being a perfectionist makes it more challenging to meet the goal of being perfect, or even of reaching a personal best.

The excessive need to achieve high levels of performance can be self-defeating as it leaves you with little chance of meeting your goals. Pursuing these personally demanding standards can have a significant impact on your wellbeing, as it can lead to frustration, worry, social isolation, depression and a persistent sense of failure.

Am I a Perfectionist?

The following are common traits of perfectionists:

All-or-Nothing Thinking: Perfectionists will accept nothing less than perfection. ‘Almost perfect’ is considered to be an instance of failure.

Magnification: Perfectionists are significantly more critical of themselves and of others. They tend to spot minor mistakes and imperfections in their work, in themselves, and in others and their work.

Unrealistic Standards: High achievers frequently assess their goals and set a new bench mark upon reaching their goals. Perfectionists on the other hand, set their initial goals out of reach. Because of this, high achievers tend to experience more happiness and success in the pursuit of their goals relative to perfectionists.

Results-driven: Perfectionists see the goal and nothing else. They are so fixated on meeting the goal and avoiding failure that they do not enjoy the process of growing and striving.

Depressed by Unmet Goals: Perfectionists tend to beat themselves up and mull over negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet. This leads to…

Fear of Failure: Perfectionists have a fear of failure. Because they place so much emphasis on results and become disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a daunting prospect. This can lead to…

Procrastination: Since procrastination can be detrimental to productivity, it would seem paradoxical that perfectionism and procrastination goes hand in hand. Fearing failure as they do, perfectionists will often worry so much about doing something imperfectly that they become immobilised and fail to do anything at all.

Defensiveness: Because perfectionists fear a less-than-perfect performance, they tend to take constructive criticism defensively.

Low self-esteem: Perfectionists tend to be self-critical and report low self-esteem. Additionally, perfectionists often experience social isolation due to their critical nature and rigidity, thereby further reducing their self-esteem.

Get in touch with the team at MindTree Psychology to take your first step toward achieving real success that comes from overcoming perfectionism.