I’m a Virgo and I often joke that being a perfectionist comes with the territory. Highly organized, meticulous, precise—needless to say, my house is always clean. In many ways, I assumed being a perfectionist was a good thing. But there is a downside to assuming perfection really exists. It’s actually more a self-created mirage than an achievable reality.
Statistics show that during a job interview when asked “What is your weakness?” the answer many people give is “perfectionism.” Why? Because while being a perfectionist may negatively affect your personal life, it is believed to work in your favor in your professional one. The qualities associated with perfectionists—strong attention to detail, self-motivated, overachiever—make for a valued employee.
However, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, perfectionism may be a roadblock to your success at work, school or on the playing field. Why? Because being a perfectionist can lead to burnout, stress and other health problems.
Andrew Hill, lead researcher of the study, explains: “Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring.”
Perfectionists often set unrealistic goals for themselves. When they’re unable to meet those high standards, they become depressed. Because mistakes are magnified in their minds and it’s difficult for perfectionists to let go and move forward. Ultimately, working under that pressure will lead to burnout. Been there, done that—it’s not a good place to be.
As it turns out, there is a bright side, some Native American Indians, Tibetans and other ethnic groups include an intentional flaw or imperfection in their handicrafts as an expression of humility.
To all the perfectionists out there, Hill recommends “accepting failure as a learning opportunity” and most importantly “forgiving themselves when they fail.”