Do people often remark on your attention detail, your knack for punctuality and your penchant to always get things done, “just right”? Perhaps it’s been going for as long as you can remember, or maybe it started once you became a mother – but whatever the case, do you find yourself obsessed with the tiny details of doing a task, sometimes so much that it causes you stress and anxiety? If so, you may be a perfectionist. While the term sounds harmless enough, women who struggle with perfectionism find it difficult to find joy in their everyday life because perfection slowly robs them of the contentment that comes from things being “good enough.” If you suspect that you may be a perfectionist, here are five ways to tell that it’s holding you back.
You can’t celebrate your successes
Picture this – You just threw a holiday party at your home for friends and family. Everyone keeps coming up to you telling you how amazing the event was for them. But with each bit of praise, you deflect by focusing on a flaw that only you noticed. The cake didn’t turn out right, these weren’t the flowers you originally wanted, the band only played 10 songs but they were supposed to play the 12 tunes you painstakingly curated for the event. No one noticed those flaws except you – everyone had a great time! But instead of reveling in the success of the event, you choose to focus on the things that didn’t go the way you saw them in your head. In this way, perfectionism is holding your happiness hostage. While everyone else is enjoying the occasion, you’re mired in disappointment.
You’re afraid to try new things
Perfectionists rarely try things they’re not sure they can be great at because they’d prefer to do really well than suffer the inevitable growing pains of learning to do something new. Whether that means attempting a new hobby, cooking a new dish, or even introducing oneself to a new circle of friends, perfectionists rarely put themselves out there in a way to discover new parts of themselves. But by being terrified to fail is a prison in itself.
You experience burnout because you can’t delegate
We’ve all known (or been) the person who is so committed to something turning out a certain way that we can’t stand to give others the opportunity to work on it – what if they don’t do it right? What if they mess it up? It’s too important to hand off so you think “let me just do it myself…” But if you’re always taking the reigns and doing the work yourself because you don’t want to risk others “messing things up,” you set yourself up for burn out. You can’t possibly do it all. No one can. For more on delegation, listen to episode 34 of my podcast Why Aren’t You Asking for Help? In it, I share 5 common reasons you’re not asking for the help you need.
You’re easily stressed by others’ imperfection
When you do manage to delegate, if you’re a perfectionist you typically don’t have much patience for others’ mistakes. You know how things should be done – all things being “perfect” so that’s the vision in your mind. Anything less than that just isn’t good enough. While the people who live and work with a you may find you unbearably critical, they’re fortunately only receiving a milder version of the harsh criticism you regularly inflict on yourself..
The unpredictability of life causes anxiety
If you’re a perfectionist, you can easily get stressed out by the tiniest change in plans. You prefer to make a plan of action and stick to it, in all situations. But life doesn’t work that way. Your perfectionism is likely to cause you extreme stress, anxiety and unhappiness if you are unable to detach yourself from your ideals. Plans change, trains get delayed, kids are uncooperative. The sooner you can learn to relax and let go of needing things to be absolutely perfect at all times, the more fulfilling your life will become.