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Perfectionist Traits: Do These Sound Familiar?

Are Too-High Expectations Wrecking Your Inner Peace?

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Updated June 03, 2014

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If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a perfectionist, there’s a good chance you are one, at least to a degree. (Take The Perfectionism Quiz if you want to know for sure.) Perfectionists are a lot like high achievers, but with some key differences. These differences are important, as perfectionists tend to experience more stress! The following are ten telltale traits of perfectionists. Do any of these sound familiar?

All-Or-Nothing Thinking:

Perfectionists, like high achievers, tend to set high goals and work hard toward them. However, a high achiever can be satisfied with doing a great job and achieving excellence (or something close), even if their very high goals aren’t completely met. Perfectionists will accept nothing less than, well, perfection. ‘Almost perfect’ is seen as failure.

Critical Eye:

Perfectionists are far more critical of themselves and of others than are high achievers. While high achievers take pride in their accomplishments and tend to be supportive of others, perfectionists tend to spot tiny mistakes and imperfections in their work and in themselves, as well as in others and their work. They hone in on these imperfections and have trouble seeing anything else, and they’re more judgmental and hard on themselves and on others when ‘failure’ does occur.

“Push” vs “Pull”:

High achievers tend to be pulled toward their goals by a desire to achieve them, and are happy with any steps made in the right direction. Perfectionists, on the other hand, tend to be pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them, and see anything less than a perfectly met goal as a failure.

Unrealistic Standards:

Unfortunately, a perfectionist’s goals aren’t always even reasonable. While high achievers can set their goals high, perhaps enjoying the fun of going a little further once goals are reached, perfectionists often set their initial goals out of reach. Because of this, high achievers tend to be not only happier, but more successful than perfectionists in the pursuit of their goals.

Focus on Results:

High achievers can enjoy the process of chasing a goal as much or more than the actual reaching of the goal itself. Conversely, perfectionists see the goal and nothing else. They’re so concerned about meeting the goal and avoiding the dreaded failure that they can’t enjoy the process of growing and striving.

Depressed by Unmet Goals:

Perfectionists are much less happy and easygoing than high achievers. While high achievers are able to bounce back fairly easily from disappointment, perfectionists tend to beat themselves up much more and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet. This leads to…

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