Recently, I’ve been going through a “revamp” phase. I revamped my blog by migrating from Blogger to WordPress. Revamped my living space by painting my entire room white and revamping my lifestyle by organising and decluttering. Through each task, I come to realise just how much of a perfectionist I truly am and that it was slowly ruining me.
What is a Perfectionist?
A perfectionist is a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. In psychology, perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.
For years, I’ve always regarded being a perfectionist as a good trait of mine. I thought perfectionism was something to be proud of. When I told people I was a perfectionist I said it with pride. I was a good student, I loved learning and spending hours writing and rewriting homework and study notes. I thought double, okay more like triple, checking my work, making no leeway for careless mistakes was what made me excel. I was convinced that my perfectionism made me an excellent student and was the primary reason for my good grades.
Now that I’m older (hopefully a teensy bit wiser), I see the other side of it. The thing is, perfectionism is a multidimensional characteristic. There are many positive and negative aspects. In it’s adaptive form perfectionism can sometimes motivate one to reach their goals. However, in their maladaptive form, perfectionism can drive one to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal. So, how does it apply to my recent revamps?
Painting my room white for example. I was stressing out real bad. It was all self inflicted and frankly could be avoided. White apparently wasn’t white enough, need more paint. It looks a little uneven, need more paint. Places that doesn’t even matter (the tiny gaps in between that no one notices, like ever!), yup have to get to it, NEED MORE PAINT! I was relentless. Something that was suppose to be done and can be done over a single weekend took double the time instead and if I were to be completely honest, after all that work, I’m still not 100% satisfied with the outcome.
Does this sound all too familiar? If it does, you’re probably a perfectionist yourself too my friend. If you need more convincing,
Here are 10 Signs You are a Perfectionist
1. Extremely High Expectations for Yourself
Whatever you set your mind to do, you will have high targets. Sometimes, these targets stress you endlessly. Breaking a neck just to reach them would seem like a small price to pay.
2. Fear of Failure
At some point, you would be held back by these expectations you set upon yourself as you procrastinate and stop working on your goals out of fear that you can’t reach them. Fear of not being good enough if you’re less than perfect. Fear of slipping from the mirage of perfection you’ve built and receiving opinions, criticisms or judgements from people around you.
Perfectionists easily get overwhelmed, making it hard to get started and / or finish projects. You procrastinate just to do something at the “right” moment. You are constantly waiting for the “right” moment to work on your goals. Only wanting to start when you are “ready” and believing that that’s the only way that you would be able to deliver your best quality of work. However, often times, it never ever feels like the “right” moment and this state of “readiness” never seems to come. Leaving you perpetually waiting.
4. Extremely Goal Driven
It’s all about the end result. The process pale in comparison. You don’t care what happens in between or what it takes to achieve the goal. Often times, pushing yourself hard, setting big goals for yourself. You just want to ensure that the end result is attained, otherwise you’d feel annoyed, devastated.
5. All or Nothing
You have an all-or-nothing approach. It’s either you do everything well, or you don’t do it at all. Everything in between is a no-go and a complete waste of your time. I’m a success or I’m a failure.
6. Self Critical
You are extremely hard on yourself. Self berating for every little mistake or if you don’t achieve that perfect, desired standard you have in mind. Whenever something goes wrong, it doesn’t matter if it’s due to your fault or just one small thing, you’re always quick to beat yourself up and feel extremely bad about it. Often mulling over outcomes that don’t turn out as envisioned. You become depressed when you don’t achieve your goals. Constantly wondering “What if?”
7. Harsh or Critical of Others
Some perfectionists are not only hard on themselves, but also have high expectations of others who don’t live up to their high standards. You have a very specific manner in which things should be done. Many times, people don’t get you because you’re just too specific. As long as something is out of place or doesn’t conform to your approach, it’s unacceptable. Often times, you just don’t see or understand a different approach. Because of that, you often find it difficult to find the right people to work with, always prefer to work alone. Vice versa, some may find it hard to work with you.
8. Constantly Spot Mistakes When Others Don’t See Any
While this can simply mean that you’re just very detail-oriented, perfectionists often spot mistakes, issues, from miles away. Sometimes these mistakes are real. Sometimes they seem self-imagined. There is just no room for mistakes. Whenever you see one, you’re the first to jump on it and correct it. If these mistakes stay uncorrected, it would haunt you day and night.
9. Spend Copious Amounts of Time Just to Perfect Something
There is just a need to perfect every single thing you do. Perfection is the end goal. To bring your work to the highest level even at the expense of sleep, personal time, health and well-being. To you, it is all part of achieving your goal and well worth it.
10. Success is Never Enough
Whatever you do, there’s always a greater height to aim for. Even when you’ve achieved your initial goal, there’s always a bigger and seemingly better target. Beyond the desire for betterment, many times you’re just not happy if you don’t go for a higher, bigger goal. Often feeling unaccomplished and rarely content with status quo. Wanting to see more and better things.
To My Fellow Perfectionists
Perfectionism can be a good thing, to want things done right, dream big and keep striving for improvement. On the other hand, perfectionism can also be a serious barrier to success and happiness at work and in personal relationships. We might think having high standards is a good thing. However, perfectionists are so harsh and rigid in their thinking and behaviour that it can become a problem.
It’s hard to keep a lid on it I know, but I’m trying to make a conscious effort to push past it. In the next couple of months, I will be implementing some new habits to hopefully curb my perfectionist tendencies. I will probably be doing a follow-up post to update you guys on any progress.
So tell me, are you a perfectionist? If so, which of these signs describes you? Also,
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS IN DEALING WITH PERFECTIONISM?
Leave a comment or tweet me @GoneVrogue . I would love to know and try it out!