The Dangers of Perfectionism

For many people having high standards and expectations are considered a great trait, as having these can often push a person to do better, allow them to reach their peak performance along with encouraging them to possess higher levels of motivation and conscientiousness. However, when a person is considered to always hold high standards for everything they do, where the standards may be too high or are achieved with significant difficulty, this is considered to be perfectionism. Having certain perfectionist traits may be great in the workplace and in earlier education, however there are downsides when perfectionism goes out of check.

By being too focused on being ‘perfect’ can lead to a person having both mental and physical health issues, as they may become overly critical and display excessive self-criticism and self-defeating behaviors. Not only does this then impact confidence, making progress in tasks and goals but it can also lead to a negative relationship with themselves and others. Health implications that may result from perfectionism are experiencing more stress, anxiety and burn out, in turn also making them more at risk of depression.

The Development of Perfectionism

There are various factors that may result in the development of perfectionism. Some of the factors recognised to contribute to this are unhealthy behaviors learnt during childhood that result in the frequent fear of disapproval from others; a mental health history of experiencing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or also having a parent who displays these perfectionist traits.

With the rise social media, this has further led to a rise in perfectionist tendencies, especially amongst young adults with more of them comparing themselves and their appearance against others and wondering whether they are good enough.*

Signs of Being A Perfectionist

There are several signs that might indicate a person is a perfectionist, especially if they display more than one of these traits or behaviors-

  • Not doing something unless they believe you can carry it out perfectly
  • Continuing to work on something until they see it as being perfect and in accordance inflexible and high standards
  • Procrastinating before doing work as there is the fear of failure or from the thought the work will be imperfect
  • Taking longer than is required on a particular activity as they wish to do it in a certain way
  • Being highly critical of their work and others, spotting mistakes or errors rather than recognising what has worked well and the progress made
  • Demonstrating an all or nothing behaviour when it comes to challenging or new tasks

It has been identified are three different types of perfectionism that exist, these being personal standards perfectionism, self-critical perfectionism and socially-prescribed perfectionism*

The great thing is that there are ways of overcoming being overly perfectionist to avoid it coming in the way of your performance, progression and general satisfaction in life. One key way is to talk and reason to your inner voice and to understand that sometimes work and outcomes may not be how we want them to be, especially if it’s our first attempt. However, with practice our performance and outcomes can get better. With anything we do in life we will learn and develop and it’s highly unlikely we will deliver our best work in our first attempts. So more than anything we should recognise our effort as this is what matters and what will drive us to progress.

If you or someone you know feel perfectionism is coming in the way of your progress and productivity in life and you would like to find ways to overcome this, then working with coach may be the very thing to ensure you stay on track. As a life and career coach for women, I have supported women across the world with achieving their goals, milestones and making meaningful progress in what matters to them. You can find out more about the life and career coaching services offered by clicking here or alternatively why not get in touch for free discovery call.

Services offered include life coaching for women and career coaching for women.