Perfectionists Are On Fast Track To Burnout At Work And In School

Perfectionism, as many of us know all too well, can be a double-edged sword.

While perfectionists are often highly motivated and intelligent achievers with a long list of accomplishments under their belt, they pay a price for their success. People with perfectionistic tendencies often struggle with extreme self-criticism, chronic stress and health problems like depression and anxiety, compulsive disorders and even heart disease.

New research suggesting that perfectionists suffer from high rates of burnout should therefore hardly come as a surprise.

“Being a perfectionist is very stressful, and stress contributes to burnout,” Andrew Hill, a psychologist at York St John University in England and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email.

What are the most stress-inducing aspects of perfectionism? Self-criticism, black-and-white thinking (“I’ll be a success if I get the promotion, and a failure if I don’t”) and excessive fear of failure tend to be particularly damaging, according to Hill.

Striving Your Way To Burnout

In their analysis of 43 studies on perfectionism conducted over the past 20 years, the researchers found the trait was highly correlated with burnout in school, sports and work. Burnout is characterized by feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, low motivation and decreased personal efficacy.

The researchers examined two main dimensions of perfectionism: perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. Perfectionistic strivings — that is, setting high personal goals and proactively working towards those goals — were not linked with burnout. This aspect of perfectionism may ward off burnout by contributing to a sense of personal accomplishment.

On the other hand, perfectionistic concerns — including the constant fear of failing, making mistakes, or letting oneself and others down, and the need for constant self-validation — were significantly correlated with burnout.

“It is the harsh self-evaluative —> Read More