10 Tell-Tale Signs You May Be a Perfectionist


June 30, 2021

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Since 2008, I’ve told womens’ stories through empowering boudoir sessions. Now as a certified life coach as well as a photographer, I help women cultivate radical self-love, guided by mindset. Sit back with a margarita  in hand and let's do this transformational journey together.
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Many people confuse perfectionism with someone being perfect, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Perfectionists are people that are afraid + ashamed of NOT being perfect.  

It seems like perfectionism should be a positive trait. It’s good to be an overachiever, right? But perfectionism is more than that. As Brené Brown states, “Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking that it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that prevents us from taking flight.” She continues on to also say, “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and I do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

There’s a difference between simply striving to be a better version of yourself + doing the best you can, and setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Wondering if you might be a perfectionist now? Read on below and see if you can relate to any of the 10 tell-tale signs that you may be a perfectionist below.

Without a struggle there can be no progress.

Sign #1 – You have an All-or-Nothing mindset 

You feel like you have to do everything perfectly or why even bother. So for example, when it comes to a goal of losing weight, if you aren’t working out every day + eating 100% on the plan, you’d rather not even try at all. 

When you have this all-or-nothing mindset, you think that if you don’t do everything perfectly + exactly as planned that you will fall short of your vision of perfection. And if it’s not perfection, then you run the risk of feeling vulnerable and being ashamed of yourself for being lesser than the perfection you “should” have obtained.

But when we have this mindset, we don’t allow ourselves to ever fail, and with failure comes growth and learning from our mistakes so we ultimately end up holding ourselves back from being better.

Sign #2 – You’re a people pleaser.

Do you ever find yourself saying yes to people even when you really want to say no? This is a classic sign that you are a perfectionist. You do this because you fear disappointing others and letting them down. Seeking the approval of those around you is very important. You do this most likely because you don’t really approve of yourself so you seek outside validation to prove you’re worthy. But this ultimately ends up backfiring on you because no matter how much validation you get from others, it never seems to truly eliminate your own self-doubt. So then the vicious cycle of pleasing others never seems to end.

Sign #3 – You are always procrastinating

You are always procrastinating. You feel like if I just do a little more research, I’ll find the perfect way to handle the task. The perfect answer is out there if you just keep searching for it instead of allowing what you do to be good enough. Because of this, the things on your ‘to-do list’ never seem to get done. You keep pushing them off until later. You’re afraid to put yourself out there now and possibly fail, so it feels safer to just not do it. You may even think that if you just avoid the task altogether then there is no risk of you failing at it. But that’s a lie because you are just failing ahead of time. But instead of being a worthy fail that will propel you forward it’s an escape fail that will ultimately hold you back.

Sign #4 – You have unrealistic standards + goals for yourself 

You tend to set ridiculously high standards for yourself that you would never expect of anyone else. But you have these high standards for yourself because it makes you feel good about yourself that you keep yourself in such high regard. You are always telling yourself that you “should” do this and you “have” to do that. But typically, you end up procrastinating as long as possible on these unrealistic goals because you fear you will fail + let yourself down (and everyone around you). You ultimately end up beating yourself up because you can’t ever seem to attain these unfeasible goals.

Sign #5 – You feel like you are never good enough

Because you have such high standards for yourself, you end up never feeling like you will be good enough. No matter what you do, achieve or accomplish, it won’t be enough + you feel like you need to do more to prove your worth.

You end up ruminating over your mistakes + criticizing yourself for these outcomes. You also assume that if something you did wasn’t good enough, then YOU aren’t good enough either. This can ultimately lead to very low self-esteem over time.

Done is better than perfect

Sign #6 – You focus heavily on reward + recognition  

Your self-worth is heavily connected to your achievements + what you think that people think of you. You want to be well-known for your accomplishments and you want to be acknowledged for what you have done. This ties in heavily to your people-pleasing + high-achieving standards and wanting to feel worthy.

Sign #7 – You have a fear of judgment

The fear of being judged is very real to you. You are afraid others will see that you aren’t perfect. This may cause you to pause + not take a risk because you fear failure and what others will think of you. But oftentimes these judgments are really just your OWN insecurities peeking through. If you let this fear of judgment hold you back though, you will never be able to step into your true purpose and you will ultimately just limit yourself. These judgments generally aren’t even real and it’s good to remind yourself that it’s all just in your head and your thoughts. 

Sign #8 – You are an overthinker

Do you often find yourself questioning, “Well what if this happened?” or “Maybe we should try this?” Perfectionists tend to be very indecisive and love to analyze even the smallest little details. You think if you continue to research + contemplate things long enough, perfection will appear before your eyes!

But ultimately you just never end up producing anything because there still might be “the perfect” option out there. Your overthinking is just you giving yourself an excuse to not take action. Overthinking + overplanning actually ends up being very costly to you with your time and it rarely leads to better decisions.

Sign #9 – You have a fear of failure

It’s kind of been touched on in the other points, but your fear of failure is very strong and it oftentimes paralyzes you. You are petrified of failing and the shame + pain you will feel that will come along with it. Making a mistake terrifies you and is just NOT an option. But when you fear failure – which is kind of inevitable if you want to progress forward, you end up stuck and never growing forward.

Sign #10 – You keep waiting for the “perfect time” to do something

You find yourself in what could be described as “tomorrow thinking”. You keep waiting for the perfect time to start something. You think you don’t have enough confidence, motivation, or knowledge to get started just yet, so you’ll do it tomorrow (or later).

The reason you do this is that getting started in action makes you feel vulnerable, so you make excuses as to why you can’t do it now and push it off until later. You want to wait for the perfect time to get started but there will never be a time that is perfect enough and then you ultimately just never get things accomplished. In your perfectionist’s head though, if you keep planning instead of actually starting, it makes you feel organized and productive creating this perfect fantasy for yourself that you are doing something when you really aren’t doing anything but stalling.  

Do you feel “seen” and like this could have been a biographical blog post about you? 😉

Now that you realize that you have some perfectionist tendencies that are getting in the way of your dreams and ambitions, are you wondering how can you overcome them? Well, you’re in luck! As a recovering perfectionist, this is a topic that I LOVE to coach women on!

Let’s get you set up for a FREE consultation with me so you can learn more about how life coaching can help you with your perfectionist tendencies.

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10 tell-tale signs that you may be a perfectionist by Tami Keehn


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