All INFJs are perfectionists. Like a persistent shadow, perfectionism makes the INFJ personality feel as if we always have to create an incredible result in everything we do. This isn’t necessarily bad, but combine INFJ perfectionism with our need to make a difference and to resist stagnation, and you’ve got a pretty difficult combination to understand and accept.
My own desire to be perfect
A few years back, not a day went by when I didn’t strive for everything I did to be perfect. This was mostly present in my line of work. Before I became a certified coach and an INFJ writer, I was doing jobs that even extroverts avoided. But my biggest problem as an INFJ was perfectionism.
I would finish my work, go home, and instead of resting and enjoying my time off, I would examine what I did that day. Every email that didn’t get a good response, every report that didn’t match the numbers, I would go through until everything was just right.
The only thing I managed to succeed in doing was to overwhelm myself. When INFJs are “in the zone”, we don’t pay attention to the signals our body is sending us. Our mind can cope, but our body is much smarter. I thought I mustn’t miss anything, but I missed the signs I was nearing exhaustion.
So that you don’t reach that burnout point that I did, I will now share with you four sneaky reasons why INFJs are perfectionists.
4 key reasons why INFJs are perfectionists
1. Fear of failure.
All INFJs have the fear of not succeeding in life, and the very thought scares the sh*t out of us. We believe that we have to make it, and that ambition drives us. However, perfectionism block us. Because of our fear of failure, we want to be flawless, which is impossible.
2. Wondering “What if?”.
In our desire to be perfect in everything, INFJs use the “what if” question as an excuse. We ask ourselves what if we don’t finish this today, or what if this is not good enough, and the list goes on. Instead of being happy with what we accomplished, we would rather push ourselves more.
3. We’re not good enough.
It doesn’t matter how much we do, INFJs will think that it’s not enough. Perfectionism amplifies this feeling tenfold. We are already our own worst critics, and believing that we’re not enough along with our drive for perfection is a combo that guarantees INFJ overwhelm.
4. Our own expectations.
Because we are so misunderstood by everyone, INFJs want to do and be more. Going after a goal or a dream must be such a challenge for an INFJ, that it will make us give everything we got, even if it means losing our own health. Perfectionism convinces us that we need to do more, no matter how much we already did.
You don’t need to be perfect to be accepted. It’s quite the opposite. But because our personality type is all about giving our max to overcome a challenge, it’s not easy for us to overcome this inner drive. But let me tell you a little secret…
You are perfectly imperfect
So you have flaws and feel bad sometimes, who doesn’t? It’s not about being all sparkly and happy all the time. Allow yourself to leave that task for tomorrow, to make a lunch that might taste bland, or to spend the whole day procrastinating. You don’t have to embrace perfectionism as your default mode my INFJ friends.
One of the greatest enemies of the INFJ personality is that silent voice that tells us that we have to go above and beyond. Believe me, I did that in the past. In the jobs that I worked, relationships that I had, friendships that were too much for me. Sure, going that extra mile has its charms, but don’t do that all the time.
There’s no such thing as ideal. You can still be a perfectionist alongside being an INFJ, but please don’t allow yourself to think that you need to be everything to everyone. You are enough, just the way you are. Dedicate yourself to a relationship or a task, but don’t lose yourself in the process by trying to appear perfect in someone else’s eyes.
You owe it to yourself to embrace who you really are. You are perfectly imperfect, and that’s an amazing accomplishment by itself. 🙂
The key is acceptance
What do you think about perfectionism my INFJ friends? Feel free to share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you!
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I am an INFJ, and a perfectionist! And now I know why. Thank you for this article, I needed it to help me understand myself more!
You are so welcome Janet! I’m glad this article helped you understand yourself better! 🙂
I’m an INFJ, I’d suggest my perfectionism always makes me strive to do better. I do not suffer from fear of failure, I try things and fall short all the time, but I live to learn and improve. Where the perfectionism may be problematic is that inner voice, it is hyper critical and always looking for improvement. A successful dinner, meeting, event can ALWAYS be improved. I’d like that to stop and relax and be more satisfied.
I hear you, Nic. Perfectionism can take a lot of energy from us, especially being INFJs. I do hope you will be able to relax and recharge more. 🙂
Thank you for this article! Being an INFJ and perfectionist is a double edged sword. We accomplish so much and people tend to seek us out because we get the job done and are overly conscientious. With all of that, we pay a price long term. We give so much that eventually, we feel depleted. We need to recognize when we are feeling this way and take care of ourselves first.
You are most welcome, Nicole! I fully agree. We need to take of ourselves first, so that we can be there for others, too. 🙂
I have learned to see the goal first and my perfectionism as merely a hurdle I can jump over. More often than not, the goal is much too important to let perfectionism be a total roadblock. But I can always use the reminder! Thank you!
That’s such a great way to describe it, Rebecca! You are most welcome! 🙂
I can definitely see how going the extra mile can be detrimental in some cases. Great point, Marko!
Thanks so much, Marcus! 🙂
I can definitely relate to this! Our drive for perfectionism can lead us to be very successful in whatever we do, but at the same time, it can be our downfall. We have to have a balance of work and fun or we’ll get overwhelmed and burned out altogether! Thanks for the reminder that we are good enough, just as we are 🙂
I agree Chelsey, that drive of ours can go both sides. And like you said, that balance can be the game changer right there. You are so welcome, and thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂
It is interesting that you mentioned that INFJs always feel like we are never good enough and also how you mentioned in a previous post that you don’t have a good relationship with your parents. Neither do I, by the way.
I wonder if these two are connected and our feelings about never being good enough comes from issues with our parents. It would be a great research project to see how the parent-child relationship for INFJs look as a big picture.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! I believe there is a connection for sure, and this would be interesting to cover. Thanks Viktoria! 🙂
There is a definite connection. If you are keen, check out this book ‘Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents’ by Lindsay Gibson. It answered so many of my questions about this topic.
Hi Marko and fellow INFJ’s
During a recent discussion about my perfectionistic tendencies someone drew a metaphor of a frantic librarian surrounded by scattered books. Only once she returned each book to its place on the bookshelf is she able to breathe a sigh of relief. Ah… everything is in order. All is well with the world. The problem with that metaphor is the that not every problem is ours to solve. Plus, there is not always an immediate solution for every problem we face. We have to learn to be okay with mess and a little chaos sometimes. A lot of times. Marko you said it well: Be okay with being perfectly imperfect!
I love how you said this Glynis: “not every problem is ours to solve” This is so true! I’m glad you like the article, thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂
The story of my life. ?
Thanks for sharing that, Kenneth! 🙂
Thank you for another great article which helped me understand inner me even more. As far as I remember, I was always perfectionist. Always felt that anything I do in my life is just simply not enough. That I should do more and push myself further. It was exhausting really as I expected from myself a lot. At work usually it was abused as I was very productive so unfair management tend to overload me with duties. Always whatever I was doing I was doing it on 110% and thought it’s just not enough. I calmed down on it a lot however I still strive for perfection.
Bedant voor de mooie artikels. Ze helpen mij. Het doet goed om te lezen dat er nog mensen zijn zoals ik.
Omkering worst case scenario, naar Wat is het beste dat ik uit deze situatie kan halen, vind ik prachtig. Goed bezig Marko, dit zal velen helpen.
This will be my first time commenting on your article, though I have only read about 3 of them, including this one.
I could relate to a lot of characteristics and attribute you explained in your article, even though I am yet to fully categorize myself as an INFJs – as you rightly talk about.
I struggle with perfectionism, thus triggering the self-criticizing voice in my head to haunt and torment me. I try to quiet it, and I try to accept myself as an imperfect being.
thank you for sharing this post.
I’m going to make this webpage the first site that pops up when I start the internet from now on.
Thank you for taking time and energy to write about this stuff. It’s rather rare and not something that you just converse with anybody, or something that is purchaseable quick and easy at the supermarket.
My fear… is that I feel so incredibly responsible, about everything! My fear has a persona, a mental image, a figure or person if you will. It’s an individual – maybe a reflection of myself – with black eyes, starring, demanding that I can “make a stand” for everything around me. And, when feeling insecure, the persona screams, bangs at surfaces with hammer, hatefully, demanding that I take responsibility. ESTJs are unfortunately not my favourite characters, having what I believe is highstack Te and Si… maybe I’ve never met mature onces, I don’t know.
I know this is deep and may not be possible to respond with an adequate answer. But I do get a sense of relief when agreeing or accepting with the demand put in place. But I know I’ve had issues with bounderies before, taking on too many responsibilities far beyond those that are mine to bear, so I feel a difficulty to determine what is sound agreement or not.
I agree with the ambition part, but the blockage I experience goes far beyond fear of failure. It’s like a fear of “if you don’t do this you are weak in, there will be hell to pay”. It’s just such a frightening experience that even IF everything was done, there is always the next thing, and the next thing. I don’t see an out, a way to be truly safe and calm in this world, maybe there isn’t one.
But my realisation from what you wrote, are that it may be possible to atleast aleviate this shadowy figure, aiming to explore Si and daily work on small tasks, until everything is set in order. I don’t think there’s a way around it. Some would call it being an adult, “taking responsibility, being disciplined, work hard”. Urgh. Are my strengths for nothing? All I see is potential and forecasts of where things are going, pick up on peoples feelings and come to very clever solutions to things that people don’t have the mental strength to consider. But the world, demands that other part of me, which I fear being stand infront of, tried, and judged lesser, incompetant, a failure, and doomed to remain a “freak”.
Is that our lot, INFJs… feels like the bad straw to get out of 16.
Get strong in your weakness, is this the only out?
What are your thoughts. This is my darkness, I don’t claim it to anyone else.