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Perfectionism

Many students at W&L describe themselves as perfectionists. They are used to being at the top of their class, often athletic, involved in lots of activities, and expect that they should do well in everything that they do. In many ways, perfectionism is rewarded because people who strive for perfection are usually excellent students and workers. Yet there is a difference between the person who has a healthy striving for excellence and the person who is unrealistically perfectionistic.

Perfectionists:
  • Often have a difficult time starting and finishing projects on time.
  • They are often very critical of themselves when they make a mistake.
  • They see less than perfect feedback (e.g., B's) as a failure.
  • They pay more attention to negative feedback.
  • When they experience success, they don't enjoy it for very long.
  • They can be critical of people who don't live up to their own high expectations.
There are problems that can result from being perfectionistic:
  • Perfectionists may not be able to achieve as much as they are capable of because of difficulty starting and finishing projects.
  • Their performance may be stellar, but it gives them little room to actually enjoy life.
  • Despite their successes, they usually still suffer from low self-esteem.
  • They are striving for a goal that they can never achieve, in that no one can be perfect.
  • They may find it difficult to acknowledge mistakes because this would be admitting that they aren't perfect.
  • Psychological problems such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, anger, violence, and abusive behavior are often associated.

If you feel like you've crossed the line from a healthy striving for success to an unhealthy striving to be perfect, you may want to consider talking to a counselor about how you can be your best but feel good about yourself, too.

10 Tips for Procrastinators 
  1. Allow more time than you think a project will take. 
  2. Set realistic goals, but stay flexible with them. 
  3. Break down big and intimidating projects into smaller, more doable ones. 
  4. Reward yourself after each accomplishment, large or small. 
  5. Make a conscious effort to realize that your paper, project, etc. can't be perfect.
  6. Start your "to do" list with the things you most enjoy doing and then add the things that you're supposed to do. 
  7. Begin your day with your most difficult task or the one you enjoy the least. 
  8. Keep a diary of your progress and read it over from time to time. 
  9. Remove distractions (TV, magazines, food, games) from your workplace.
  10. Keep a list of backup projects to do once you have free time because you've followed steps 1-9.