5 Reasons Why Being A Perfectionist Can Stop You From Going Far In Life

Written by: Neha Kalavati


Just one day before the submission, I rewrote the whole article. Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism does not always work in my favor. As I wrote this, my brain pondered upon various solutions to make this article flawless.

Like every other perfectionist, I wanted this article to be as perfect as possible. Perfectionism is a tricky trait, a controversial character. From times unknown, we have deemed perfectionism as a star characteristic every successful person possesses. Urban dictionary defines perfectionism as "refusal to accept any standard short of perfection," which is accurate. However, it doesn't clear the dilemma of whether or not this is a positive trait to own.


Sam Laura Brown, the perfectionist mindset coach, says, "perfectionists are not perfect people; they are ashamed that they are not perfect".


So, if you are a perfectionist, here are five reasons perfectionism will stop you from going far in life.


#1: All Or Nothing Mindset


All or nothing mindset is a common trait in all perfectionists, it is either doing it impeccably or nothing at all- there is no middle ground. Let's suppose a perfectionist signs up for a 30-day exercise challenge, and misses 2-3 days in between. This only discourages them and they instantly give up on the whole challenge. Perfectionists theoretically believe in "strive for progress, not perfection" but rarely practice it in real life. They set highly unfair standards, and when they fail to reach them, they get disappointed with themselves. Perfectionists also face problems when it comes to consistency. They have good intentions, they also make plans, but miserably fail at following through the plans they set for themselves- simply because their standards are too high to stick to.


#2: Productive Procrastination


Perfectionism serves us well when we are in college. We have deadlines, so even if we procrastinate on assignments, we can still manage to get them done at the last minute, which makes us believe that anything we do at the last minute will come out ideally and gives us a false boost that we are smart.

But once we graduate, there is this big chunk of time, and we will have no idea how to deal with it. On one hand, perfectionists are master procrastinators; on the other hand, they love feeling productive. This phenomenon is famously known as productive procrastination, which signifies that perfectionists do things that are vague to stay busy and productive while ignoring the critical stuff that needs to get done.


#3: People Pleasing


It's been a year since I started writing blogs on my website, and even till today, only a couple of friends and family members know about it. There is a slight sense of guilt and shame in me, which makes me bother about what others think of me.


All perfectionists are over-thinkers. They concern themselves with others' opinions. They lack self-confidence and are often afraid of them being perceived as dumb or not smart. Perfectionists have a less attractive perception of who they think they are and are petrified that the world sees them the same way.

They also like being appreciated, they often find themselves seeking validation for every little thing.

They are afraid of criticism, and to stay in other people's good books, they end up making compromising decisions.

Perfectionists leave no room to experiment with new things in life due to the fear of being judged or misunderstood, and when they don't try new things, their knowledge turns stagnant.


#4: Perfect Timing


In the book "The 4-hour Work Week", author Tim Ferriss writes about the time he asked his mother, "when did she think it was the right time to have him?" And his mother replied, "There is no perfect time to have a baby."

Nonetheless, perfectionists don't think that way.


Perfectionists wait for the perfect timing to undertake tasks. They create a fallacious story in their mind that they need to wait for an ideal time to work on something or wait until they feel motivated to get the task done. This issue, in turn, breeds procrastination.

To counterbalance this and to feel productive, they fill their time with trivial tasks.

They keep delaying essential tasks because they doubt their abilities. The fear of disappointing themselves is so prominent that they never start the work in the first place.


#5: Success Mistakes


An important reason why people fail is that Perfectionism is deeply rooted in them. They stop working towards their goals, as they believe they are wasting their efforts. Even if they do set goals, they are either vague or too unrealistic to inspire them. Perfectionists want to reach their goals effortlessly, and in no time; and the second it starts getting uncomfortable, they lose their patience and find a way out from it.

They seldom put themselves in positions where there is the slightest chance they might fail. They get overwhelmed for setting big goals, and when we get overwhelmed, we don't have to do the scary thing. It is a lousy strategy to avoid pain and discomfort.

Similar to the hamster wheel, perfectionists keep circling around, setting high standards, giving up, procrastinating, and not celebrating their small wins.

How many of these could you relate to? I can relate to all of them in some way or the other.

A good news however is that is accepting our problems is the first step to success. I've taken that step, have you? Let me know in the comments.

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