Before You ‘Do’ Another Holiday, What Kind of Perfectionist Are You? (Messy, Classic, Procrastinating…)

With one holiday behind us and many more looming, it can be easy to fall into the ‘doing’ of the holidays, rather than their celebration.

(As a side note: The phrase, “I’m going to ‘Do’ the holiday with my family,” is as upsetting to me as when you ‘Do’ Paris, or ‘Do’ a gin and tonic. Enjoy your family, take a trip, have a drink—do not “Do.”) **

At any rate…

During a recent road trip, I had the opportunity to listen to two podcasts on perfectionism. One on Hidden Brain, one on Life Kit—and wow, did I learn.

Hidden Brain identified 3 kinds of perfectionists:

  • Self-oriented: Typified by a lack of self-compassion and a strong sense of self-loathing.
  • Other-oriented: Expecting others to be perfect; to do things according to your plan.
  • Socially prescribed: A sense that everyone around you, all the time, is watching and expects perfection from you.

For me, these distinctions were useful. (Full disclosure—though I doubt it’s a surprise—I’m a self-oriented perfectionist.)

Life Kit’s podcast on perfectionism offers 5 types of perfectionists—and a handy quiz to see which one you might be:

  • Classic
  • Procrastinator
  • Messy
  • Intense
  • Parisian

I invite you to have a listen, take a read, enjoy the quiz. For me, Procrastinator and Messy perfectionists were new concepts—and illuminating.

The primary thing I took away from both podcasts, however, is that there is nothing inherently wrong with perfectionism: which is about wanting things to be whole.

The tricky bit is recognizing how that desire manifests—and that is the difference between trying to control everything and everyone around us or having power over ourselves.


For more phrases that send me into outer space, take a look at “Pick Your Brain and Other Phrases I Never Want to Hear Again”