Part 1: “I’m Not Perfect Enough to Be a Perfectionist”

By our 30s, many of us have learned the “correct” answer to that all-too-typical interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?”: “I’m too much of a perfectionist.”, “I try to do too much.”, “I need to learn to delegate.”. The message behind this reflects the American ideal- there is virtue in overachieving.

But when does perfectionism start to hurt instead of help you? Sooner than you’d think. Women, especially, believe in the notion that they should be doing “excellent” at everything: job, relationship, friendships, parenting- all while their house and body look put together and polished. We’ve been told since we were little that we can have it all! We can be anything we want to be! As long as we’re willing to work at it.

But the evil truth is that it isn’t possible to be excellent at everything at the same time. Repeat after me- “IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.” Or rather, it isn’t sustainable. Even the most perfect perfectionists (I see you) cannot sustain this level of achievement forever. And once these arbitrary expectations are no longer met, what follows is a downward spiral of stress, self-judgement, shame, lowered confidence, and negative self-talk. What was once an asset (you know you loved being labeled as an overachiever) has suddenly become an albatross (“I can’t screw this up”).

In Part 2 we’ll talk more about the path to perfectionism and where that road takes you. Until then, feel free to take the quiz below to see if you are part of the perfect posse.

Are You A Perfectionist in Need of Reform?

(Score 1 point for each 'Yes' answer)

  • Do you seek external reinforcement (pay raise, higher grades/ratings, praise from others)?

  • Do you prefer to finish a project yourself rather than delegate?

  • Do you prefer to have hours set aside to finish a project (rather than working in small chunks as time opens)?

  • Do you have trouble hearing criticism?

  • Do you get irritated when someone “drops by” your house when you aren’t expecting it?

  • Do you get irritated when you try something new and are not good at it immediately?

  • When you notice your house or body, do you zero in on the things that still need improvement/imperfections?

  • Do others tell you you are difficult to please?

  • Do you have much lower expectations for others versus yourself?

  • Did you think “I’m not quite perfect enough to be a perfectionist?”

If you answered “yes” to 3 or more questions, you are a Perfectionist in Need of Reform! Click here to read Part 2 of our special on Perfectionism.