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What Is Perfectionism and How Does It Hold You Back?
What Is Perfectionism and How Does It Hold You Back?

At first glance, “perfect” sounds like a good thing. However, upon closer inspection, you may realise that “perfect” is not always ideal and that perfectionism can be detrimental, leading to self-defeating thoughts and increased stress and anxiety.

Read on to learn more about perfectionism and how it affects you.

What is perfectionism? 

Perfectionism refers to the need to be or appear perfect. It is not simply about striving to do your best, which allows room for failure or mistakes. Instead, perfectionism requires flawlessness—and if it isn’t attained, harsh self-evaluation and criticism may follow. Even “almost perfect” is not enough.

The main issue with this mindset is that perfection is subjective, and everyone has a different definition of what it means. Perfection is, therefore, unattainable and an unreasonable standard to hold yourself to.

Some signs that you’re a perfectionist include:

  • Unable to perform a task unless you can do it perfectly.
  • Believe that a task is only finished when the result is according to your standards.
  • Take excessive time to complete a task as you are caught up in perfecting the details.

If you suspect you’re a perfectionist, reaching out for professional guidance is a good idea, as it can significantly affect your life.

Perfectionism leads to burnout

Perfection is near-impossible to achieve. Therefore, perfectionists are constantly finding flaws and looking for ways to improve. Over time, you may stretch yourself too thin and feel burnt out.

Ultimately, perfectionism is counterproductive. In pursuing perfection, you are likely to experience burnout, leading to fatigue and the possibility of mistakes. When things inevitably fall short of your standard, you may want to make further improvements, thus kickstarting a vicious cycle of making mistakes and trying to improve.

Perfectionism causes you to neglect yourself

When you’re constantly trying to do everything perfectly, you end up with little to no time for yourself. Instead of taking care of yourself and ensuring that you sleep and eat well, you are likely spending more time worrying about the next project or trying to fix something you don’t believe you did well enough on. 

You are more likely to procrastinate

It may seem paradoxical, but perfectionists tend to procrastinate. This happens because you will likely have an all-or-nothing mindset; if something doesn’t go as planned, you must keep working on it.

As such, you might keep putting things off because you’re afraid of making a mistake. Therefore, you may not be productive.

Perfectionism causes you to experience constant stress and worry

If you’re constantly worrying about how to perform or task to make sure it’s perfect, you prevent yourself from fully experiencing life. Stressing over small details and future mistakes eventually takes a toll on your emotional and physical well-being, causing you to stress and worry excessively.

Your relationships may become strained

High standards may not just affect yourself but also spill over into your relationships. Because you likely associate your self-worth with your performance, your work may become your highest priority while your friends and family are neglected.


Though it may seem like a good trait, perfectionism can be detrimental and hold you back. If you relate to some of the qualities listed above, it may help to seek professional guidance.

Online therapy and counselling may be a good idea for busy professionals. If you are seeking private counselling online in Singapore, check out Executive Counselling. We provide individual counselling sessions. We also offer career counselling for professionals, infidelity counselling, and marriage counselling.