14 Perfectionist Traits That Might Be Sabotaging Your Dream

I’ve been told I was a snobby teenager.

That perception might have had something to do with my reserved nature. Or because I could usually be found sitting in a corner with a novel rather than socializing.

Another reason was my black-and-white, all-or-nothing view. I believed that if someone didn’t meet my high standards, they didn’t deserve my attention or my patience. I wanted to do things well or I felt there was no point in doing them at all. I embraced perfectionist traits as my identity and was proud of it: “That’s just the way I am.”

The Cost of Perfectionism

However, it wasn’t until many years later that I began realizing the effect this perfectionist mindset was having on my life. What was the cost of these high expectations — of others and myself?

  • a rocky first marriage
  • authentic friendships
  • peace
  • the adventure of new experiences
  • a confident start in my calling
  • writing and publishing my book sooner

While my perfectionism wasn’t solely to blame for these losses, it played a significant role.

Identifying Perfectionist Traits

Are you also a perfectionist?

I know your intentions are heartfelt. You want the best for yourself and others, or you feel like you’re settling for less. Missing the mark makes you feel like you’re a failure, and you want people to see your potential.

You can be over-responsible or controlling; it’s not that you want to be like that, but you value quality and time — and mistakes or distractions waste precious time you’ve been given.

If you’re writing a book, stuck staring at that blank page or constantly editing without progressing, perfectionism might be putting a damper on your writing dreams. Trust me, I’ve been there. But here’s the thing I hope you realize sooner than I did: that drive for flawlessness might be holding you back from unleashing your God-inspired book into the world in more ways than one.

But here’s what I realized the more I have written, read and walked in leadership: writing a book or sharing a vision isn’t about hitting some impossible standard of perfection. It’s about letting your voice shine through, sharing your messy, imperfect story, and touching hearts along the way. In fact, it’s often what makes you approachable and relatable. Acknowledge your strengths, own up to your weaknesses, and give yourself permission to stumble and fall (figuratively, of course).

When you let go of that suffocating need for perfection and explore the world between “the best I can do with the time and resources I have right now” and “I’m crushing it!”, you’re opening the door to genuine storytelling and the chance to make a real impact with your words.

So how do you know perfectionist expectations are hindering what you feel called to do rather than protecting it?

Common Perfectionist Traits to Watch For

See how many of these perfectionist traits you relate to:

  1. You find it hard to say no when someone asks because you’re eager to please them.
  2. When you find out you made a mistake, you feel beyond horrible.
  3. You tend to procrastinate on the big things – and sometimes the small things.
  4. You tend to judge others critically.
  5. In your eyes, it’s all or nothing – you must work to your best potential all the time.
  6. You obsess over the little things – even when you know they shouldn’t matter.
  7. You take things personally and get defensive when criticized.
  8. No matter how hard you try, you never feel like you have quite “arrived”.
  9. You feel jealous of others’ successes.
  10. You’re riddled with guilt and shame deep inside.
  11. When others make mistakes you can’t stand it.
  12. You can’t be bothered with people who won’t make the effort to better themselves or their work.
  13. You feel the people around you expect you to excel at whatever you do.
  14. Striving for perfection is taking a toll on your health, but you do it anyway.

Analyzing Your Perfectionist Traits

How did you do? If you checked off…

5 or fewer symptoms – Congratulations!

You’re human, but you’ve infused your life with adventure and gained a wealth of experience. We can learn some valuable lessons from your journey! Would you share what has helped you live with this freedom in the comments below?

Between 5 – 10 symptoms – Welcome to the Club!

You’re on the path to greater self-awareness, recognizing the barriers that hold you back. The keys are awareness and the willingness to rewrite your story. Which of these symptoms do you think you could tackle first?

Over 10 symptoms – There’s Hope for You!

It’s no fun being immobilized living with those kinds of standards. I sincerely hope you don’t wait for a major setback before embarking on the new story you genuinely desire for your life!

Embracing Change and Transformation

Imagine a life where these symptoms weren’t holding you back – what would you do?

Ready for a change? Find some strategies in the upcoming post or look below to begin your own transformation.


One comment on “14 Perfectionist Traits That Might Be Sabotaging Your Dream”

  1. […] are if you’re a perfectionist like I was, or you’re someone who is detail-oriented and thorough, you carry this belief in […]

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