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.
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?