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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about overcoming the fantasy of perfectionism.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • What is perfectionism and how does it differ from or relate to idealism?
  • Two resources Antonia reviewed on perfectionism:
  • Two definitions of perfectionism
    • A basic definition
    • A modern definition
  • Joel – an example of adaptive perfectionism
  • There can be good perfectionism – what are some of the signs of this?
  • Perfectionism to pass societies standards – how maladaptive perfectionism plays into this and relates back to the self.
  • The 1st sign of perfectionism – “all or nothing” thinking
    • Markers of maladaptive perfectionism and ideas for overcoming it.
  • The 2nd sign of perfectionism – being highly critical
    • When is this justified or not?
    • The concept of conditional acceptance – and how this affects competence
  • The 3rd sign of perfectionism – being pushed by fear
    • Unhealthy versus unhealthy motivation
  • The 4th sign of perfectionism – unrealistic standards
    • Some thoughts on personality type and their relationship with internal metrics
  • The 5th sign of perfectionism – focusing on results
    • How do you know if it’s healthy or unhealthy?
  • The 6th sign of perfectionism – fear of failure
    • Some thoughts on using feedback to build self-esteem
  • When adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism look similar – how can you tell the difference? Some questions to ask yourself.
  • Perfectionism with an outer world focus
    • Joel – 3 ideas to overcome this
    • Antonia – some questions to ask yourself
  • The ego and control – awareness of these when dealing with perfectionism

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  • Nina
    • Nina
    • April 6, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Great podcast. I’m an INTJ who’s definitely perfectionistic about my goals and accomplishments, and in the mal-adaptive sense it manifests in analysis paralysis when I don’t know how to move forward. I’m currently unemployed and struggling with imposter syndrome and anxiety about the future, so my strategy revolves around working on projects to further my skills so I get just a bit closer to where I want to be and learn something in the process, instead of staying in protective strategies to maintain a sense of control.

  • Kim
    • Kim
    • March 20, 2021 at 2:36 am

    Fantastic podcast! You did a great job differentiating adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism. I am an INTJ and perfectionism has played a major role in my life. I attribute my successes in life to my strong drive to be perfect. As I get older, I find that my perfectionism creates much less stress and I am learning how to more quickly incorporate developmental feedback without ego-driven negative self-talk.

  • Margaret Newcombe
    • Margaret Newcombe
    • March 14, 2021 at 5:33 am

    When I was in my 20s. I would burn paintings that I spent hours on …often because I had no mentor to help with what I now have learned about both art and personality type. I was always driven to produce the most perfect painting, and didnt know how to stop overworking. Im in my 70s now and am just finding out how to fail and do something that may not be perfect. I am an INFP and I know so much more about myself since I did a mb type test 30 years ago. The introduction of the internet has produced some great websites but your ENP approach has been truly helpful. Over the years I have discovered that it doesn’t matter …its just a painting on the wall.!…it isn’t SO important to produce perfection in this area of my expertise but there is no way I would ever put my work out there in an exhibition. I need the motivation to finish work so I am working this out, but setting goals alongside learning to play classical guitar …the process of repetitious hard work, daily discipline was lost somewhere in visual art education in the 20th century.I have some years left to get over the trauma and relax and enjoy …..Thank you both, much of what you have shared I have learned through hard times, but its good to hear someone explain it all.

  • Jonathan Hardin
    • Jonathan Hardin
    • March 16, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    The story around minute 58 makes me think of a person so committed to control and afraid to fail, they wreck the project in order to “get it over with”, still maintaining their sense of control.

  • BK Jackson
    • BK Jackson
    • March 13, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    This is the most directly relevant Personality Hacker podcast I’ve had a chance to listen to & very useful. I have long suffered from perfectionism. Try as I might, I cannot pinpoint an external source that lent itself to the problem. But I have always been extremely demanding of myself.

    Perfectionism is a nightmare. I deal with it most in creativity: writing and visual art. But also in my day job as an Admin Assistant, where, being responsible for sending out department communications company-wide, I will obsessively read over an email 3-5 times to ensure it’s absolutely flawless before I send.

    Perfectionism is most crippling in building a writing career. I began writing in 2005 with an eye toward a string of historical fiction books I wanted to write/publish. In 2010 I won a “first chapter” contest for my first novel—which 11 years later REMAINS unpublished, as well as another manuscript from a different series that remains unfinished. Perfectionism causes me to tell myself “I haven’t researched enough. I haven’t gotten the characters good enough. Oh I need to make the plot better,” etc. The success of being an indie author relies on having several books on the market—not just publishing one. So perfection is something I absolutely MUST defeat to realize my goals.

    I am only slightly less perfectionistic about visual art. I am never satisfied with my paintings or drawings. And there are many times, in the midst of either writing OR doing visual art, that I will quit a project rather than risk it being imperfect.

    Thankfully, I do not put these perfectionistic tendencies off as harsh criticism of others—indeed I celebrate every bold step another person makes by putting their work out there.

    Of the 3 suggestions given at the end of the podcast, I think the strategy I most need to try is increasing throughput & speed – but giving myself hard deadlines is something it is easy to squirm out of. If someone has suggestions on how to make this accountable, I’d be glad to hear them. The world isn’t exactly clamoring to see my books so there is no external source for accountability.

    But now in middle age, my goal of publishing a string of books set in Arizona is at a critical stage. If I don’t overcome perfectionism, I’m going to leave this life having not realized a primary goal. But perfectionism has been the biggest wrestling match of my life.

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