Are you a perfectionist? Are you obsessed with getting things perfect each and every time?
Perfectionism is often thought of as a positive trait. Many people pride themselves on their obsessiveness to detail and think it makes them more effective.
But did you know that your perfectionist tendencies could be hurting your success?
I hate to break it to you but perfection is just not possible. In fact, it doesn’t even exist.
I know this because I am a recovering perfectionist myself.
For years I thought my perfectionist behavior and impossibly high expectations in my work and personal life would attract the success, love, acceptance and fulfillment I craved.
But I only got the opposite.
Even when I did achieve, the joy was always short-lived because I was too busy stressing myself out and thinking about my next goal.
The strange thing is I never considered myself a perfectionist. I just thought I was a high achiever.
You see, perfectionism manifests itself in many ways. It’s not always obvious. Like me, you may not even see yourself as a perfectionist.
Take a look at the 7 tell-tale signs below. You might be surprised at what you discover.
7 Signs You’re A Perfectionist
#1. You Have To Be The Best
Do you try to be the best in all that you do, even if you’re not really interested in that topic?Are you constantly comparing yourself to other people?
A perfectionist believes that the highest standards must always be achieved. They are driven not by the sheer joy of doing great work, but by their self-doubt and fear of failure and rejection.
When you do something that is not aligned with your core values, it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others. Admiring other people’s achievements and being inspired is a good thing. But if you use your perfectionist tendencies as a stick to beat yourself with and feel inferior you are hurting yourself.
Focus instead on what you are passionate about, what makes you happy and unleashes your creativity. As you start to tap into your inherent uniqueness, you will stop comparing and competing with others.
#2. You Don’t Tolerate Mistakes
Nobody likes to make mistakes. They can be embarrassing, waste a lot of time and eat into your resources.
But if you are intolerant of mistakes and chew on them weeks later, or see them as evidence of your unworthiness then your perfectionism is harming you.
A perfectionist will often become depressed when he or she experiences failure and disappointment because they tend to focus on their error rather than learning from it.
Let go a little and change your perception. Mistakes happen. They are a natural part of life and business. Reframe your mistakes by seeing them as an opportunity to learn, improve or do things differently. This will help you bounce back more often.
Remember also, that the past has gone. You can’t change it so learn the lesson and move on.
#3. You Obsess Over Simple Tasks
A perfectionist often gets so absorbed with perfecting one task at the expense of everything else and loses sight of the big picture.
Ever heard the expression, “paralysis by analysis”?
This describes the excessive over-thinking that delays decisions far beyond what is reasonable and can be a serious block for many people.
Obsessing over every tiny detail is simply your way of resisting. It’s procrastination in another guise.
When you have done your best work and it’s good enough, then you need to ship it as Seth Godin says. Not when it’s sloppy or unfinished but when it’s good enough.
Don’t give in to resistance. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you need more time. Take a risk.
#4. You See Things In Black & White
For a perfectionist, there are never any shades of gray. You see life in absolutes. Things are either black or white, win or lose, good or bad. It’s perfection or nothing in the world of the perfectionist, and no one can convince you otherwise.
But having such a rigid perspective can make you inflexible and narrow-minded, not to mention miserable because you are under pressure to succeed at all costs.
You end up stressed out and miss all the beauty, magic and diversity that life has to offer.
Relax, open your mind and live a little.
#5. You Are Your Own Worst Enemy
You are your own worst enemy and harshest critic. Any time even the smallest things go wrong, you beat yourself up. If things don’t turn out how you imagined, you spend a great deal of time replaying the outcome.
In fact, you could still be blaming yourself weeks later – rehashing what you did or didn’t do, what you said or didn’t say, and analyzing the entire process.
Don’t take yourself and life so seriously. Everyone slips up from time to time and as I said before about making mistakes, life is about learning and growing.
When your plans go wrong or don’t work out, remind yourself that there may be something bigger or better just around the corner. Things always have a way of working out in the end so don’t sweat the small stuff.
#6. You Are Obsessed With Achieving
As a perfectionist, you are only concerned about achieving and getting to the “finishing line.”
What happens in between doesn’t concern you at all. Truth be told, you probably find the details in the middle, slightly [yawn] tedious. Your only goal is to achieve the outcome.
I have to admit this was me for a long time.
I was so focused on achieving my goals that for several years I stopped enjoying the journey, spending time with loved ones, being happy and having fun.
My advice to any perfectionist out there is to take a step back and ask yourself why you are doing this and what really matters?
Life is precious and success is meaningless if you have no one to share it with.
#7. You Can’t Handle Criticism
As soon as someone criticizes you or makes a suggestion about your work, you start defending yourself. You might fly off the handle, become overly defensive or start doubting yourself.
You just can’t grasp the idea that you may not be perfect and everything you do might not be perfect.
A perfectionist has a very difficult time accepting that someone else spotted a flaw in them or their work no matter how minor. This triggers your defensive mechanism and you will defend what you did to the bitter end.
If you struggle with criticism, then stop and think about your reaction for a second? Is the criticism valid? Is it constructive? Will it help you grow?
If it’s valid then take it on board. Fix what you can, and then move on. Above all, learn not to take things to heart. Remember, opinions are cheap and everyone has one.
Today, I’m still a bit of a perfectionist but way, way better than I used to be. Instead of aiming for perfection, I now strive for excellence.
I stopped worrying about what others think of me and began dancing to my own beat. I stopped playing out worse-case scenarios in my mind and accepted that I can’t control everything. I stopped fearing mistakes and vowed to learn from them.
I also created a mantra to help me push through blocks in my business whenever any pesky perfectionist thoughts pop up.
“It’s as bad as it’ll ever be but it’s good enough to work.”
Being a perfectionist is far from positive. It is very harmful to you and your business because it reduces your productivity, affects your health, damages your interpersonal relationships, and creates low self-esteem.
Perfection is an illusion because you will always be tweaking as you go along. If you put enough effort into your work then launch it, release it or ship it as soon as it’s good enough. Don’t let your perfectionist behavior stop you from the success you deserve.
Are you a perfectionist? Were you surprised by any of these 7 tell-tale signs? Which areas do you need to work on? Please comment and share below.