How Perfectionism Hurts You

UPDATED: February 27, 2017
PUBLISHED: February 27, 2017

As someone who can’t resist righting an off-kilter picture frame and will reread an email 12 times to make sure it’s error-free, I’ll be the first to admit that occasionally, perfectionism can be more of a vice than a virtue. While there’s nothing wrong with high standards, constantly striving for “perfect” can have a negative affect on your work, personal relationships and even your health.

Related: The Secret to Ending Perfection Paralysis

Signs your perfectionism is doing more harm than good: 

It’s hindering your productivity.

Perfectionism is often linked with a fear of failure, which can heighten procrastination. Maybe you’ve missed a work deadline because you can’t get the finished product just right, or you find yourself putting off tasks that you anticipate will be difficult to execute.

It’s hurting your personal relationships. 

Perfectionists can be highly critical of others, which at home could mean a blow up over incorrectly loading the dishwasher, or overeacting to a friend being late to coffee. In turn, you may be excessively defensive of any critism pointed your way.

It’s affecting you physically.

Constant fixation on achievement and conditional self-worth can take a serious mental and physical toll, leading to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt and depression.

Take these steps to overcome your perfectionist tendencies.

1. Recognize negative thought patterns.

If you find yourself obsessing over a mistake at work or beating yourself up because you didn’t go to the gym, consciously choose to cut yourself a break.

2. Eliminate the word perfect from your vocabulary.

This can help avoid the “all or nothing” mindset that prompts setting impossibly high standards.

3. Keep perspective.

Think about how the issue at hand will affect you in the big picture.

Related: Relishing an Imperfect Life


This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Karin Vandraiss is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a background in food and travel. She spends off-hours scouting new restaurants and hiking her way through the Pacific Northwest.