15 signs you might be a perfectionist

Contrary to popular belief, perfectionism isn’t the pursuit of excellence. Pursuing excellence requires a willingness to jump in, to try different things, to fail gladly and learn as you go. Perfectionism on the other hand, tends to be the thing that stops people from jumping in care free. It’s more of a voice on your shoulder telling you not to try because you might fail… Falling short of the high expectations you place on yourself. Ironic right? The paradox of perfectionism: The paradox of perfectionism is that the high standards and goals perfectionist set for themselves can often get in the way of their happiness and actually end up hindering the performance they desire to achieve. The list below will help you to better understand why… Why I’m talking about perfectionism… Close to 90% of my coaching clients over the last 6 years would describe themselves as perfections. For many of these people, knowingly or not, it has been perfectionism that has been the catalyst for them to team with me as their Life Coach. This could be because they were feeling stuck, overwhelmed, out of balance, low confidence or self-worth or they had a burning desire to improve and grow, to live up to the potential they see for themselves. I can say firsthand that self-awareness has been a critical part of their personal and professional growth journeys, especially when it comes to managing perfectionism. So I’ve created the list below for you to see if perfectionism may be playing an unhelpful role in your life Now, as you read the list, keep in mind that not every one of these signs will describe your experience, but make a mental note of the ones that do. This is a self-awareness building opportunity! And it’s also important to note that you can be a perfectionist in different areas of your life at different times. It’s not an absolute/always thing, it’s more of a personality trait that flares up at different times.

15 signs you might be a perfectionist:

  1. You strive relentlessly to reach high standards in certain areas of your life (often these are high standards you hold for yourself but sometimes you project them on to others too)

  2. You tend to measure your self-worth based on your achievements and your ability to strive for those high standards. Perhaps it’s even that your achievements have become your identity (oof. That’s a big one.)

  3. The high standards you set for yourself are unrelenting, you rarely celebrate your wins and instead, keep raising the bar

  4. You experience negative consequences from your pursuit of high achievement but you push on anyway (helloooooo exhaustion, overwhelm and burnout!)

  5. You like to be prepared. I’m joking!... You like to be OVER prepared. ALWAYS.

  6. You have a nagging sense that you’re not good enough or that you’re failing

  7. You avoid tasks that are difficult or hard to excel at straight away, e.g. Choosing to not learn a language, even though you want to, because you won’t be fluent instantly…

  8. You delay starting things because you can’t work out just the right place or way to start. You don’t want to waste time with false starts… and you DEFINITELY don’t want to fail.

  9. You give up easily (e.g. quitting your dance class because you can’t keep up with the teacher even though no-one can….)

  10. You function from an all or nothing mindset, e.g. You either smash out a huge run or you don’t do one because ‘walking doesn’t count’, or you have to eat the WHOLE bag of chips or maybe you feel like the whole day is a write off after a ‘bad’ start.

  11. You struggle to make decisions in a timely manner because you have to weigh up all of the options and make exactly the right choice

  12. You seek reassurance from others because you respect others opinions of how good your performance/work is over your own (not ideal…)

  13. You like to be organised and make lists… often over and over again because even the list needs to be perfect

  14. You procrastinate excessively. Usually because you consciously or subconsciously fear what you’re creating/doing won’t be ‘good enough’

  15. You self-sabotage (e.g. you don’t apply for a particular job because if you take yourself out of the race before someone else does you can avoid the pain of someone else telling you that you’re ‘not good enough’)

Oh wow. If you’re a perfectionist there were some eye opening reality checks in there, right? I wonder how many signs from this list resonated with you?

If a lot of them did then I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed and I certainly hope you don’t feel helpless. Now would be a good time to remind you that awareness is empowerment. As soon as you’re aware of something you’re empowered to influence it.

It’s not all doom and gloom for perfectionists! I promise!

How to empower yourself from here:

  • Learn. Come along to my free mini- workshop on the last Sunday of this month (Sunday 29th Aug 2021, 7:30-8pm), it’s going to be all about managing perfectionism. Contact me to register (if you miss one it's ok! I run different mini-workshops of free via zoom each month so sign up to my monthly motivation email to be notified of what's on when)

  • 1:1 Coaching. Take the opportunity to get to know yourself better and to carve out time to focus on personal and professional growth with your own coach. Explore tailored strategies for you to manage your perfectionism so life is energising and fulfilling!

  • Journal to increase your awareness. Set out to learn more about how perfectionism influences you day to day explore questions around how it affects your thoughts and behaviours, what happens when you manage it well? What happens when it’s out of control? Use your journal as a safe place to look for lessons in your experiences.

For all my perfectionist readers out there, I hope this has been a helpful exercise!

Remember: awareness = empowerment! You've got this!!

Steph x

Certified Professional Life Coach

Launceston, Tasmania

p.s. If you want to talk about how Life Coaching with me will help you to increase your confidence, performance and work/life balance then get in touch to arrange a free intro chat with me. Whether it turns into coaching or is simply an empowering chat, I'd love to support you on your journey!

Author: Steph Edmunds

Certified Professional Life Coach, Launceston, Tasmania

Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania, coaching clients across Australia and the world via Zoom to achieve work/life cohesion, confidence and sustainable high performance.

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