Is perfectionist controlling your life?

Perfectionism is one of the BIGGEST habits that I see holding so many people back. The idea of being seen as perfect is something that many of us hold on to. The last things we want is for people to judge us, criticise us or mock us, and so we can lose ourselves in the battle of trying to make sure everything is perfect!

BUT what is perfect? What does it actually mean? What does it look like, feel like?

The truth is we can’t really answer this question because what is perfect for one person won’t be for another. And vice versa! And yet we can spend hours, days, weeks trying to perfect ourselves or something related to us – our work, our relationship, our health from this illusion that it NEEDS to be perfect.

The harsh reality is –perfect doesn’t exist – it is just an illusion. An impossible outcome that amounts to nothing but disappointment, upset and limitation.

Often when we strive to make things perfect we end up missing out on so much and rarely achieve the things we want to achieve because we spend so much time waiting!

  • Waiting for the right time
  • Waiting for the right idea
  • Waiting for the right opportunity
  • Waiting for the right man/women
  • Waiting for the right promotion

But all waiting does is cause you to play small. To limit yourself – your growth, your experience and your results.

It’s when you take action and make mistakes that you get the chance to learn new things about yourself. To grow, expand and to push ourselves beyond your usual limits!

So how do you know whether you are a perfectionist?

Perfectionists are a lot like high achievers, but with some key differences.

The following are 10 common traits of perfectionists, that you may be able to spot in yourself or in the people you know.

Do any of these sound familiar?

All-or-Nothing Thinking

Perfectionists, like high achievers, tend to set high goals and work hard toward them. However, a high achiever can be satisfied with doing a great job and achieving excellence (or something close), even if their very high goals aren’t completely met.

Perfectionists however will accept nothing less than perfection. “Almost perfect” is seen as failure.

Highly Critical

Perfectionists are more critical of themselves and others.

While high achievers take pride in their achievements and tend to be supportive of others.

Perfectionists tend to spot mistakes and imperfections. They hone in on imperfections and have trouble seeing anything else. They’re more judgmental and hard on themselves and on others when “failure” does occur.

Pushed by Fear

High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals and by a desire to achieve them. They are happy with any steps made in the right direction.

Perfectionists, on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure.

Unrealistic Standards

Unfortunately, a perfectionist’s goals aren’t always even reasonable. While high achievers can set their goals high, perhaps enjoying the fun of going a little further once goals are reached, perfectionists often set their initial goals out of reach and often forget to make it fun!.

Focussed on Results

High achievers can enjoy the process of chasing a goal as much or more than the actual reaching of the goal itself.

Perfectionists however see the goal and nothing else. They’re so concerned about meeting the goal and avoiding the dreaded failure that they can’t enjoy the process of growing and striving.

Depressed by Unmet Goals

Perfectionists are much less happy and easy going than high achievers.

While high achievers are able to bounce back fairly easily from disappointment – perfectionists tend to beat themselves up much more and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet.

Fear of Failure

Perfectionists are also much more afraid to fail than are high achievers. Because they place so much stock in results and become so disappointed by anything less than perfection, failure becomes a very scary prospect.

And, since anything less than perfection is seen as failure, perfectionists sometimes put off things until the last minute.


Perfectionism and procrastination do tend to go hand in hand. This is because, fearing failure as they do, perfectionists will sometimes worry so much about doing something wrong or imperfectly that they choose to hold back and wait!!!!


Because a less-than-perfect performance is so painful and scary to perfectionists, they tend to take constructive criticism defensively, while high achievers can see criticism as valuable feedback to help their future performance.

Low Self-Esteem

Perfectionists tend to be very self-critical and unhappy and suffer from low self esteem. They can also be lonely or isolated as their critical nature and rigidity can push others away as well.

Lets be honest, we have all acted in this way at some point in our lives. You are not alone. There is a perfectionist in all of us BUT it is how you deal with it that is different. How you CHOOSE to let it empower you. Impact you. That is the difference!!

Reminding yourself that PERFECT doesn’t exist is a sure fire way to move you away from perfectionism. You can’t achieve something that doesn’t exist SO STOP TRYING!

Recognising that “done is better than perfect” will take the edge off. It will give you permission to take that step, to try and to take action. It is in the action that we learn – we find out what works and what doesn’t – that’s it! There is NO FAILURE in taking action. It is simply an opportunity to GET FEEDBACK!

Life is about learning. Evolving. Making mistakes. Falling down. Getting back up again. This is how we grow.

There will always be people that judge you – whether you take action or not BUT when you focus on learning, evolving and doing the best you can – it allows you to push past that – to focus on your purpose, your goals and the support you have around you.