The Pitfalls of a Perfectionist

Are you a Perfectionist or a High-Achiever?  Perfectionists and high achievers are similar, but one suffers from much more stress! Didi Zahariades, MA, psychotherapist and life coach, joined us to talk about how both are goal oriented but a Perfectionist will struggle in daily life much more than a High-Achiever:  
  1. Regardless of success; a Perfectionist may suffer from Low Self Esteem:  A perfectionist is so hard on herself that she may often be unhappy and (privately) experience low-self-esteem. If a goal is left un-met, she may dwell on it for days consumed by her failure.   It is normal for her to focus on the negative which supports low self-esteem. This lack of confidence differs greatly from a high achiever who will typically have high self-esteem and the ability to bounce back quickly when a goal isn’t met.   This is often shocking to those around her because she appears so together, always on top of everything!
  2. Experience a High degree of ‘Fear of Failure’: Perfectionists are more afraid to fail than most high achievers. Anything less than perfect is failure, so - although possibly very successful – this person may feel like she fails often  A high achiever is motivated by all of the required steps to achieve (the process) whereas a perfectionist is typically focused on the end result (the goal.) Because of this, a perfectionist may have laser vision on the end result which has the potential to be a failure. Because of this, she most likely is unable to appreciate the process and is driven by results.
  3. Define self as a Procrastinator:  Most procrastinators are actually perfectionists. A person can worry so much about doing something perfect that she is unable to get started! She may literally become immobilized by this procrastination. This makes her procrastinate and may not accomplish anything she had planned. And we are back to failure… Very typical for a student with a paper due.
  4. Defensive about criticism:   A high achiever typically appreciates criticism and uses self-critique as a valuable part of self-growth. A perfectionist finds others views to be devastating and often even painful. Considering the time commitments to projects/plans may have been in excess, the constructive criticism can be overwhelming.   A co-worker may make a casual suggestion about a project only to have the perfectionist respond in an aggressive,  negative way.
  5. Suffer from All-Or-Nothing Thinking: A perfectionist will set high goals, yet if it isn’t ‘perfect’ it may feel like a failure. A high achiever may also set high goals yet may be satisfied with ‘Excellent’ as opposed to requiring unrealistic expectations.   The perfectionist’s goals may be completely unrealistic and unreasonable. The difference is a high achiever will push to achieve, yet set goals which are also achievable. This allows the high achiever to enjoy success whereas the perfectionist may be stuck in her personal battle to achieve.

For more great information, visit Didi's website.

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