11 signs you’re too much of a perfectionist (and it’s holding you back)

Striving for perfection can boost success, bolster standards, and breed tangible motivation, but taken too far, it can trigger vicious, unhealthy cycles. 

But that’s not all…

Perfectionism worsens stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s pervasive due to intense competition and social media pressure.

Check out 11 signs of being a perfectionist and how it holds you back.

1) You have trouble starting tasks

Starting can be tough when you’ve got personal goals and want to get everything right. But remember, progress is better than perfection!

You see, fear of failure or the idea that your work won’t be perfect can prevent you from beginning a task and seeing it through.

Striving for a level of perfectionism can often lead to missed opportunities, procrastination, and a boatload of stress and anxiety.

The result?

You end up spending too much time preparing, planning, and worrying, while the task never gets completed.

2) You’re afraid of failure

Perfectionist tendencies can lead to an unhealthy fear of failure.

Truth be told, it can be absolutely paralyzing.

Sadly, countless individuals worldwide are plagued with low self-esteem and self-worth, rendering them afraid of new things, challenges, and opportunities that could lead to disappointment. 

The negative beliefs and thoughts stemming from these feelings foster numerous problems. Ultimately, you’re unable to thrive in both personal and professional settings.

Doubting yourself and lacking confidence in your abilities make pursuing your passions and goals much harder.

Striving for perfection may seem noble but can harm relationships, stunt professional growth, and impact well-being.

3) You’re hyper-critical of yourself

When you’re too much of a perfectionist, you’re often your own worst critic

This personality trait can hinder progress and make life difficult.

Regrettably, it’s common to obsess over details and nitpick one’s work to an unhealthy extent, taking the fun out of it.

You may set impossibly high standards for yourself and beat yourself up when you fall short

Without constructive criticism, you could end up falling into bad habits just to cope. 

Tragically, one example of this is the insidious progression of eating disorders – think anorexia and bulimia – that combat negativity with extreme control, and often arrive unannounced.

Believe me, this mental illness can be a difficult cycle to break if you give in to this flawlessness mindset.

4) You’re obsessed with details

It’s true: most if not all, perfectionists tend to be obsessed with details. 

Although fine attention to detail and a hint of OCD can be advantageous, an excessive need to be perfect can become overwhelming.

We’ve all got that one friend, don’t we? Or could this be you?

I’m telling you, even on Facebook and email, you have a hard time making decisions and worrying about the small stuff.

Fussing over insignificant details such as the aesthetics of your social media post or even the word count of an email can be a major time waster.

It can also lead to getting lost in details and neglecting larger tasks, like coming up with a creative concept for your project. 

Focusing too much on trivialities can be a big time-waster, leaving you with insufficient time to complete your priorities.

5) You can’t delegate

As a perfectionist, it can be tough to delegate tasks. We often overburden ourselves with work by assuming it can only be done correctly by us.

It’s like parenting—holding your baby birds back in the nest because you’re scared they won’t soar when they take their first leap.

This mindset can cause a lot of stress, like an overachiever who can’t trust others to get the job done without control.

Overworking can lead to burnout and disrupt your work-life balance. Eventually, it’ll hold you back as it also limits skills development and knowledge acquisition.

This brings me to my next point:

6) You’re never satisfied

Perfectionists often struggle with delegation because they’re never content with the results. A sense of dissatisfaction looms, making it challenging for them to let go.

With high expectations and unrealistic standards, you’ll constantly be on the lookout for faults and mistakes even when work’s done to a high standard.

At some point, your mental health can suffer due to always striving for a flawless performance. 

These perfectionist traits aren’t just unhealthy—they’re also holding you back. 

As I said, progress is better than perfection. 

Dissatisfaction can lead to an inability to recognize the good in our accomplishments and move forward. 

Recognizing these signs and taking steps to challenge your perfectionism can help you break free of its grip. And remember, it’s ok to make mistakes – they are part of success!

7) Procrastination

Procrastination’s not always a bad thing. It’s in those little moments we can improve the quality of life.

Here’s the thing: perfectionism can kill ambition and a good work ethic.

Take cleanliness, for instance. Some people might wait for that “perfect” time to tackle a cleaning task.

Yet, often times that “perfect” time never comes and their homes get messier by the day. What happens is that tidiness is put off for too long and the task becomes overwhelming.

This also applies to other pursuit areas, such as studying or work projects. You postpone starting a task in search of that “perfect” moment, resulting in a lack of progress and an increase in stress levels. 

8) You put too much pressure on yourself

Perfectionists often pressure themselves, leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout that impede progress. Headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and digestive issues can stem from many causes.

Your inner critic can be a harsh presence.

Negative self-talk and self-criticism can spiral into a binge of regret, leaving you with thoughts of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve – and no opportunity to enjoy the present moment.

You’re left with nothing but anxiety disorders that only a mental health professional can help address.

Striving for perfection can hamper the exploration of potential and risk-taking. While it’s comfortable sticking to a routine, growth requires stepping out of your comfort zone.

9) You have trouble making decisions

You may be wondering if perfectionists have trouble making decisions. 

Being a perfectionist may backfire sometimes. And this is one of those times.

Overanalyzing every choice’s pros and cons in search of perfection can needlessly delay task completion.

In a nutshell, cognition paralysis sets in due to an inability to make choices quickly.

Remember, a wrong choice can lead to the right decision. We don’t need perfection, just the best option available to keep moving forward. 

Be kind to yourself. Have a little more compassion.

Mistakes are natural in learning and growth. It’s okay to make them.

10) You struggle with time management

Perfectionism can hinder effective time management. You might neglect some tasks while excessively focusing on others or find prioritizing to be a challenge.

Frankly, this is one of the flaws that can lead to health and wellness issues and a sense of being overwhelmed.

This can result in deadlines being missed and a decrease in productivity.

Plus, with unrealistic expectations, it can be hard to manage your stress levels.

Becoming a perfectionist is crucial, but getting lost in the details and developing unhealthy habits can be counterproductive. It’s crucial to strike the balance between being a perfectionist and enjoying the journey. 

Mastery of this balance is vital to growth and progress.

To avoid wasted time chasing perfection, prioritize realistic goals and self-care.

Besides, when you focus on the process of progress instead of perfection, time management and productivity become easier.

11) You don’t take time for self-care

Finally, perfectionists tend to forget about self-care. 

They often ignore their physical and mental well-being when they’re consumed with tasks or preoccupied with their shortcomings.

You see, self-care is like magic. 

High achievers need to practice self-care, be it regular exercise or dedicating time to reading, to lift their mood, boost self-esteem, and fuel positive vibes.

For perfectionists, taking the time to relax and enjoy life can be beneficial. 

It can help release some of that stress and build a more balanced lifestyle.

Life is a journey filled with thrills and spills. 

Do not hesitate to take that leap of faith, as mistakes are inevitable and the learning process is invaluable. Embrace every lesson, and let it shape you into a better version of yourself.

Perfectionism in imperfection

Having perfectionistic traits has its benefits, but excess can harm your life. Identify signs and take action to address them- the crucial first step.

Ensure you’re on top of things!

Set realistic goals, delegate, practice self-care, and seek support. Strive for excellence but find balance and enjoy the journey.

Manage your perfectionism by assessing what motivates your tendencies. Discover new strategies for sustainable success. 

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back from achieving in life. 

At the day’s close—(and I cannot emphasize this enough)—progress wins over perfection. Mistakes, when viewed as chances for growth and learning, can lead to greater success.

So, let go of the need to be perfect! 

Striving for perfection is like walking a tightrope, but it need not hinder greatness.

Embrace imperfection and live life to the fullest

Frankie Pascua-dela Pasion

Frankie was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. She is a graduate of Humanities from the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Frankie is a seasoned Customer Success and Human Resources professional. She is also a certified Life Coach and Career Strategist. She helps people young and young at heart to simplify their lives by creating emotional awareness. She also loves working with people who have a genuine interest in breaking their inner limits through their journey of self-discovery and authenticity in their personal and professional lives.

Frankie’s recent venture into writing is fueled by her passion for human connection and meaningful relationships at home, at work, and basically everywhere. She enjoys the research, discovery, and reflection that go into each article as much as she writes about them, in the hopes that her words resonate with, and give perspective to her audience.

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn: Frankie Pascua-dela Pasion

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