5 Signs You May Be A Perfectionist

5 Signs You May Be A Perfectionist
Carly Jacobs

Perfectionism is a personality trait that presents in a person striving for flawlessness and setting extremely high standards for themselves. This is often accompanied by extreme self critiques and the searching of feedback from others. Perfectionism sounds like a great thing that turns people into productivity ninjas but being a true perfectionist is not as great as it sounds.


I used to identify as a perfectionist but I don’t think I’m the full deal just yet. I say ‘yet’ because I can definitely see that part of me growing if I don’t stay on top of it. I have perfectionistic tendencies and it’s something I need to keep in check before it spirals out of control. For example I love busying myself with menial tasks when I have crazy deadlines. When I feel overwhelmed, burying myself in something low risk and repetitive is my kryptonite. It’s obviously not a super useful trait but I find being aware of it really helps. For example this week, I have a big collaboration project due on Friday and instead of just dealing with it I decided to write thank you notes to people. Super urgent right?

If any of this sounds like you, here are some signs you may be a perfectionist…

1. You procrastinate a lot

Procrastination is often associated with laziness but it’s usually a sign of deeper issues and is the exact opposite of laziness. Perfectionists often put off completing a task because they don’t believe they have the time, skills or gumption to complete it. This is usually a total fabrication but it won’t stop a perfectionist from putting off a task, sometimes indefinitely.

2. You spend far too much time doing things way too thoroughly

Perfectionism will often present itself in obsessive behaviour. Excessive organisation is a big red flag – things like spending hours on the digital categorisation of music or movie libraries for no obvious purpose or deliberately completing a task the long way. Perfectionists like to be engrossed in an achievable task and the longer that task takes, the better because it will prevent them from having to make another move. It also gives the illusion of productivity which perfectionists really enjoy.


3. You’re very good at talking yourself out of doing things
Perfectionists are typically quite afraid of failure and one of the easiest ways to avoid failing, is to avoid trying. This is a classic perfectionist move. They’ll convince themselves not to apply for jobs they’re qualified for or to pursue bigger things because they’re worried about not succeeding. Often the chances of success aren’t even considered because the fear of failure is far too great.
Perfectionists will avoid doing things like bidding on their dream home in another city because the details of moving cities is just too much. Where will the kids go to school? What if they hate it there? What if the local supermarket is awful? What if someone died in that house and no one told us? What if it has asbestos? The theoretical negative outcomes of any situation will have a perfectionist paralysed by the unknown.
5. You obsess over small things
If everything is too overwhelming, perfectionists will focus on something really small. I had a perfectionist boss once and it was really difficult to manage. We had four really busy times each year and without fail, she’d freak out, pull me off the very important task I was doing and make me finely chop carrots for the morning tea she’d decided to spontaneously host for no reason in the middle of our busiest week of the quarter. Micro-managers are often perfectionists in disguise.

This week on Straight & Curly, Kelly and I are talking about perfectionism, how to spot it and how to manage it.

Just reminder now and always, Kelly and I are not doctors or trained medical professionals. We’re just two self improvement enthusiasts sharing our findings and research with our lovely listeners. As Kelly and I were researching this episode we found lots of studies that link perfectionism to mental health issues, anxiety, depression and even suicide. So if anything in this episode resonates with you or you can see these behaviours in other people, just keep an eye on it and watch out for each other yeah?

Do you experience perfectionism or perfectionistic tendencies?

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  1. Reannon 12 months ago

    I think I’m a bit like you, I know I have some of the tendencies but I’m not fully there yet. I hope to never get there but who knows ?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Me too! I think it’s a good idea to stay on top of it just in case!

  2. Kate 12 months ago

    Fear of failure, procrastination, and ability to spend 4 hours creating the most beautiful PowerPoint in the world for my next class, when a half decent one would have done the job and I could have been on to the next 10 things on my list. Yep, this speaks to me!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Oh lord the perils of being a perfectionist teacher! The worst. Kids give zero shit about any of it. Doesn’t stop you caring too much though!

  3. Missy D 11 months ago

    I definitely have perfectionist tendencies – this sometimes leads to me hold onto everything in times of stress at work, but I’m learning to recognise when I get like that and that I need to delegate to my team. Over the years I’ve also learn that done is better than perfect. When you’re getting paid to produce work on short deadlines you can’t waste time holding off delivery because something isn’t perfect.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Done is straight up better than perfect. I battle that little fight in my head every single day!

  4. Michie 11 months ago

    Gaaaah! Nailed it! I always thought my procrastination was laziness and therefore made me ineligible for perfectionist status…a true perfectionist can’t also be lazy, right??! ?

  5. Ana Acosta 11 months ago

    This is so relevant and relatable. Thanks for bringing awareness to perfectionism as it usually causes more harm than good.

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