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Lesson 1.6 - Tendencies and characteristics


video lesson




Hi! Hopefully, by now, we’re on the same page about the fact that perfectionism is not a collection of personality traits or characteristics. So, the tendencies and characteristics we’re going to be talking about in this lesson number 6 don’t MAKE you a perfectionist.

But… going over these common tendencies and characteristics will help you get a better understanding into your perfectionist behavior. Some of them might open your eyes as you’ve never considered them to be part of your perfectionism before.

So, let’s get to it.

You're reliable

Expected to be somewhere at 12:30? You're the person that’s going to be right on time. Type A folks have a fear of wasting time, so the word ‘late’ is absolutely not in your vocabulary. Not only that, you follow through on your commitments because you're holding yourself accountable for them.

You're goal-oriented

To put it simply, you make things happen. Do you have your eyes on a certain job? You do everything you can to get yourself there. Want to execute a surprise party for your best friend? You organize every last detail. There's nothing holding you back from a five-year plan, because ‘goal’ is your middle name.

You're highly conscientious

Sure, you can be a little, well, intense... but that's only because you care.  In all areas of your life, it's important to you to stay on top of things and make sure it all gets done. Chances are you're the one who remembers the exact date of your parents' wedding anniversary and the person who memorizes your friends' birthdays.

Waiting in long lines kills you a little bit inside

Perfectionists are deeply irked by anything that slows their progress or needlessly keeps them from getting things done. And when it comes to halting your momentum, there are few things worse than long, slow-moving lines.

You bite your nails or grind your teeth

Perfectionists are more prone to nervous behaviors like nail biting, teeth grinding, and fidgeting.

You've always been a bit of a catastrophist

You've always been a bit of a catastrophist. A lot of the time, you don't feel fine. You can't help but worry about the future and dwell on the worst possible outcome of any problem or failure.

You have a hard time falling asleep at night

You tend to dwell on frustrations and worries, and it can keep you up at night. If you have perfectionist tendencies, there's a good chance that a troubling event or conversation makes your brain go into overdrive when your head hits the pillow.

You’re not a risk-taker

Perfectionism keeps you from taking a risk and being average in something new. Even when you’re trying something new, like rock climbing or yoga, you want to be perfect from Day One. When you cannot do the perfect wheel pose or meditate for a few minutes, you feel bad.

You’re prone to all-or-nothing thinking

This is a common tendency and it involves you seeing a situation as either black or white, right or wrong, perfect or imperfect, success or failure. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and you eat one cookie, you might think: “I’ve blown my diet completely!”

You tend to get defensive

Perfectionists often get very defensive when they are criticized because a critique threatens to expose their flaws, much in the same way failure does. Similarly, perfectionists take criticism as a statement of their worth or ability.

You’re not very flexible

You tend to have rigid standard for yourself and others. There is a difference between setting high standards for yourself and being willing to learn from your mistakes and being inflexible. When I suggest to you that you may want to come up with your own version of ‘good enough’, it’s like I’ve asked you to climb Mount Everest tomorrow. Inflexible thinking often includes words like ‘must’, ‘should’, and ‘have to’.

You have this excessive need for control

Perfectionists often try to control the behavior or thoughts of the people in their lives as a way of preventing them from making mistakes or encountering harm. This tendency has likely negatively impacted your relationships over the years.

You’re a micro-manager

“If I want it done right, I have to do it myself”, is your go-to motto. Because you just can’t trust someone else to handle it. You find it very difficult to delegate and when you do, you become a micro-manager.


Time to grab your worksheet and get to work, my friend. Make a list of all the tendencies and characteristics of perfectionism you recognize in yourself and that resonate with you. Use the ones I mentioned earlier as an example and, if you can, come up with one or two of your own that are really specific to you and your work and life.


On the worksheet, there are also a few fun ‘yes or no’ exercises to help you on your way. Alright, make sure to take the time working through the exercises and then I’ll see you in the next lesson.