Are You a Perfectionist?

On the Level

Video created by and used here courtesy of Michael Rutter.

Take the quiz and find out if you fall on the healthy or unhealthy side of perfectionism’s continuum.

Instructions: In the assessment below, I want you to ask yourself how your perfectionism affects your behavior, feelings, thoughts, and relationships with others – and try to determine where you fall on the healthy or unhealthy end of the continuum for each. In doing so, you will get a clearer sense of your own personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to perfectionism. For example, concern about mistakes can make you detail-oriented and a valuable asset at work — or it can make you controlling, anxious and a procrastinator.




Answer 1 through 7 based on where you see yourself on the scale between these opposite statements.

My Perfectionism Profile


Question 1 of 17:
How often do you achieve the standards you set for yourself in important areas of your life? Do you normally reach your goals, or do you fall short of what you were hoping for much of the time?

Question 2 of 17:
Do you always have to follow rules and guidelines and do things a certain way to achieve the “right” outcome? On the unhealthy end of the spectrum this kind of inflexibility can lead to an inability to adapt when necessary and can encourage an inclination to fight creativity.

Question 3 of 17:
Are you content to excel in the areas where your talents lie and play to strengths about which you have an intrinsic interest and excitement? Or are you someone who has to compete and outdo everyone in everything, regardless of whether you are, in fact, any good at it, have any practice or skill at it, or are even interested in the task?

Question 4 of 17:
Do you recognize a point of diminishing returns and therefore know when to redistribute your time and energy to other activities? Or do you see all tasks as being equally important, making it difficult to prioritize?

Question 5 of 17:
Does your perfectionism keep you on time? Are you usually able to deliver completed projects when you say that you can? Or do you fall behind, miss deadlines, and procrastinate?

Question 6 of 17:
Developing a filing system should actually make one more—not less—efficient over time. Are you organized and efficient? Or, so preoccupied with “everything in its place” that you lose the forest for the trees?

Question 7 of 17:
How do you respond when you make mistakes? Are you happy with the effort you put into projects and believe that it was worth your time? Or, do you repeatedly review and edit your work to make sure there aren’t any mistakes, thereby resulting in the aforementioned missed deadlines?

Question 8 of 17:
Do you feel as though your self worth rides on every project you produce? Or are you able to recognize that you have different strengths and weaknesses, and are happy to accept what you do well and shrug off less-than-ideal outcomes?

Question 9 of 17:
Do you actually enjoy your work and the tasks and duties you are asked to complete? Or are you filled with anxiety and dread, feeling stressed out and worried about what others are going to think?

Question 10 of 17:
On the healthy end of the continuum, perfectionism compels people to concentrate on the positive, strive for success, notice what’s going right, and feel motivated by receiving positive feedback from others. On the unhealthy end, the focus is directed more toward the negative: trying to avoid failure, obsessing over what’s going wrong, and directing one’s efforts and energy toward trying to dodge others’ criticism and negative feedback.

Question 11 of 17:
Do you tend to be all-or-none in your thinking and evaluations, or do you take a more balanced view? Are you able to count both your successes and failures?

Question 12 of 17:
Consider the manager who invites thoughts, opinions, and suggestions and who is able to reach a conclusion and feel comfortable with it when it is time to do so. Once he or she has made the decision, the entire team can get to work. Is this you? Or are you always questioning yourself and unsure about which direction to take, continually inviting suggestions and ideas, but unable to act on any of them?

Question 13 of 17:
Those with unhealthy responses tend to engage in harsh criticism of themselves and even hate themselves for making a mistake. “If I am really hard on myself it will keep me from repeating the same mistake in the future and motivate me to work harder.” On the healthier end of this continuum are responses that include a focus on self-correction and self-reassurance. It is okay to be disappointed in an outcome. However, harsh self-criticism doesn’t solve any problems.

Question 14 of 17:
Are you the go-to person—one who is dependable, reliable, a team player, or even a leader? Or, do people consider you to be defensive, controlling, never satisfied with your own or others’ work, overly critical, and a procrastinator?

Question 15 of 17:
When someone gives you constructive criticism, do you immediately start to wonder whether that person likes or respects you? If 10 people compliment you but one person makes a negative comment about your work, do you feel that you have failed? It is important to make the distinction between feedback that is, in fact, honest versus that which is just (unhelpfully) critical. Sometimes the person giving the feedback is being unnecessarily harsh, but sometimes, the recipient is being unnecessarily sensitive.

Question 16 of 17:
Do you expend a lot of energy trying to hide your perceived flaws or mistakes from others? Or, do you collaborate and ask for input along the way when you are working on a project by allowing others to see rough drafts?

Question 17 of 17:
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about trying to live up to the expectations that you perceive others have for you, or are you focused on meeting your own goals? Is it intolerable for you to have someone upset with, disappointed in, or angry at you?