Want to know if you are a member of the Practicing Perfectionist Society?
Take the test below to see whether you believe you have to do a “perfect” job in almost everything you do, even though it often isn’t required. Designed by a recovering perfectionist, these questions can give you a perspective on the topic you may not have had.
As you ask yourself the following questions, pay particular attention to the “why” of your answer.
- Do I like to prove my value as a person by showing others I am totally competent at some task? [yes/no]
- Do I attempt to enhance my position at work or with others by pursuing tasks and making certain others know who well I have done? [yes/no]
If so, why do I think this is so?
If not, why not?
- Do I tend to believe that others want me to achieve something well and that they have high standards for me even if they don’t say it?
- Am I impatient with my own errors and notice that images of past failures plague me? [yes/no]
- How do I keep reminding myself of what I haven’t done well enough?
- Can I separate striving for excellence, which is sometimes possible to attain, and striving for perfection, which is not? [yes/no]
If so, how do I manage to remind myself of this difference when I am in the middle of an important project?
- If someone complains that I am being a perfectionist, what is my response?
- If someone makes a comment about a topic of which I know something, do I feel I have to make certain they know I, too, know about it?
If so, why?
- Do others complain that the standards I set for them are two high? [yes/no]
How accurate might that accusation be?
- When have I tried to do a job perfectly (though I may tell myself that I’m just aiming to do a “very good” job), then postponed the job because I didn’t have all the steps laid out to do it “right,” and then became paralyzed at the prospect and ended up not doing it at all?
How often does this happen to me?
- Do I often feel that nothing I do will ever be enough? [yes/no]
- Do I often behave as though everything I do is going to be inscribed on my tombstone? [yes/no/more than I’d like to admit]
- Do I identify myself as a perfectionist? [yes/no]
EVALUATING THE TEST
Count your “yes” answers. Were there less than 5, between 5 and 10, or more than 10?
What does your number mean? Since this is a subjective test, I’ll give a subjective answer: I’m not sure where the line falls between someone being a “little” perfectionistic and “completely” perfectionistic. But since I am a recovering perfectionist and know a bit about the topic, I suspect two things are true.
One: The more yes answers, the more rigid you are in your thinking — even though you say you’re “just trying to do a good job.”
Two: If you are bothered by not having a clear “grade” or specific “quotient,” you are likely to be a practicing perfectionist. That’s because perfectionists like things to be clear. They want to know whether they have “passed” a test and lie “inside” or “outside” of the parameters set by the person who has designed the test.
How do the “why” answers affect how perfectionistic you are? I believe that you know in your heart whether or not you are a “practicing” perfectionist.
And if you got a really high score, I want you to know that being a “recovering” perfectionist is much more fun, and actually more productive, than being a “practicing” perfectionist.