10 Clues You’re Striving For Perfection, Not Excellence

June 22, 2017


Do you cover up your perfectionism with the mantra “striving for excellence? Of course, doing our best is always a pleasant thing, but when we blur the lines of good and perfect, it begins to hurt us and those we love. Join me, as we look at ten clues, which reveal when we are striving for perfection, not excellence.

Until it hit me with an embarrassing and unexpected moment, was I willing to start looking at my perfectionism tendencies.

Of course, it wasn’t me that blew our cover it was my sweet husband that could care less how we looked to others. It is true God gives us just what we need to help us grow. He gave me a man who tends to rock my orderly, put together life.

As you read in my last post, struggling to look like we had it all together was a constant battle when hosting Bible study in my home. Not even the mayhem that transpired with the mouse stopped me from pushing for perfection

Still, bound and determined I fought on to keep the image I had created of the “Good Christian Home.” This night was no different.

The house was clean, my homework was all completed, and we waited patiently for our guests to arrive. The doorbell rang; I took one last look to see if everything was in its place as I opened the door ready with my beautiful “hello.” I couldn’t believe my eyes! The only couple on the doorstep were the ones that I had deemed the holiest of holy.

I wanted to back away and pretend illness – anything, so my ignorance would not show.

The four of us prodded along slowly going from question to question. I barely spoke for fear my answers were wrong. Then it happened, all of the sudden my husband decides to make an announcement. He says,

“I don’t know if I even believe in this God stuff.”

My eyes popped out, my mouth fell open, as I hung on for dear life. It is a wonder I did not fall out of my chair and onto the floor.

Thinking to myself, “You have got to be kidding, you did not just say that.”

Quietly mumbling to myself, “You’re just now telling me this after twelve plus years of marriage.” “Could you not have chosen a different time and place to announce this news.”

After all, we are the hosts of this group – the “Christian People” who open their home to everyone. We are the ones that guide and facilitate the talking.

Obviously, somebody at the church should have done a better job of vetting us.

After catching my breath and finding my self-speechless, I sat back and listened.

Our “holy” friends didn’t skip a beat in asking him further questions, digging into what he meant. Quite honestly they did not care whether we looked the part or whether our home was clean. They had hearts full of love for Jesus and others and were ready to engage.

Of course, I wish the lesson had been learned right there on the spot, but no my pride got in the way, and I felt wounded. Plus I was embarrassed.

This event marked the beginning of realizing just maybe in my seeking of doing my best; I was crossing the line into perfectionism.

After all, that night, my husband’s heart was what mattered. Jesus was what mattered – not how I looked to others. He had questions and doubts like many people and what better people than these two to talk with who had a wealth of information. He was not afraid to ask to grow to become who God wanted him to be not who I thought he should be.

A Question began running through my mind –

“Do I blur the lines of reaching for excellence and end up reaching for perfection instead?”

Realizing, my striving for something I could not attain was leaving me empty and feeling as if I could never be good enough – I decided to explore.

Printable – Click the list
Reaching for our best is an excellent quality to have but when we cross over into striving for perfection is when we miss what God has in mind for us.
What are the clues, which tell you when you have crossed over into perfectionism?

Travel with us this month as we take a deeper look into what perfection is all about. If you are looking for a few favorites of mine on our topic, please click here.


Blog Series on Perfectionism:

I hope you will join our community at Embracing the Unexpected – sign up today to receive posts straight to your inbox along with a small gift.



  1. Reply


    I think I struggle with perfectionism too, Maree Dee. I love how you’ve separated it from striving for excellence, since that is a good practice and focus. But perfectionism really takes it to an unhealthy and even idolatrous extreme. I’ll pinning your list. It’s so practical and so relevant to all of our lives! Thanks so much!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Thank you for pinning the list. I think many of us struggle to some degree with perfectionism. Your words nailed it “unhealthy and even idolatrous extreme.” Thank you for adding to the conversation. Hoping your day is filled with good things. Maree

  2. Reply


    Maree – this post was so enlightening for me. I had a few ah ha moments! I’m sharing a link to your post in my September newsletter. Thank you for sharing these words with a recovering perfectionist!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      I am so glad this post spoke to you. Thank you for sharing a link to it. OH, I am right there with you as a recovering perfectionist.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend,


  3. Reply

    Dispelling the Myths About Perfectionists Guest Post by Maree Dee | Journey to Imperfect

    […] after reading last weeks, “10 Clues You’re Striving For Perfection, Not Excellence” you have convinced yourself the criteria has been met, and you want to change. Or maybe you just […]

  4. Reply


    Oh, how I struggle to rely on God and not myself. All of these traits apply to me, trying not to be a perectionist.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Debbie, You are not alone in your trying not to be a perfectionist. I am a work in progress right alongside you. Blessings, Maree

  5. Reply

    #LMMLinkup: Value of Play | Mary-andering Creatively

    […] 10 Clues You’re Striving For Perfection, Not Excellence […]

  6. Reply

    Brandi Raae

    Oh goodness. I have struggled with perfectionism my whole life. I can totally relate to procrastinating on something because I know if I try it won’t be perfect.

    About a year and a half ago I MADE myself illustrate my children’s book since I couldn’t afford to hire someone to do it. I MADE myself stop watching YouTube videos on how to paint and so forth. Even though I was totally inexperienced, I’m glad I forced myself to do it even though it’s not perfect. 🙂

    Now I need to apply that same principle to writing a novel!

    Thanks for linking up your post to Literacy Musing Mondays.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Brandi – I am right there with you. Wow, I am so proud of you for illustrating your own children’s book. I had to laugh at the YouTube videos. I totally would have done the same, well not really I NEVER would have attempted it. So glad you did it.

      I was like that I spent months getting ready to post my first blog. I still spend endless hours checking and rechecking. I am getting better. I too would like to write a novel. Thank you for the linkup. Praying for your novel as I send this. Blessings, Maree

  7. Reply

    5 Powerful Verses to Pray When You Need More of God

    […] 10 Clues You’re Striving for Perfection Not Excellence […]

  8. Reply

    Gretchen Fleming

    Now that is just uncalled for Maree! 😉😂 Did you ever step on all TEN of my toes! Great post my friend and I will happily share to Facebook. Your checklist is spot on too. I was laughing out loud at the scene you described with your husband. I could relate so well that I’m sure we would be fast friends if we lived near each other. Lol Thanks is for such a helpful post👍

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      I wish we did live close by. I would love to have a friend like you where we could meet for coffee. (Well actually it would be diet coke for me.) I guess settling for online friends is what it will have to be.

      Glad you found my checklist spot on and helpful. Thank you fro sharing it to Facebook.



  9. Reply

    Sarah Geringer (@SarahGeringer)

    I am a recovering perfectionist, but I still struggle with many things on your list. Thank you for sharing so openly, Maree Dee.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      You are not alone. I too struggle with many of things on my own list. However, I have made progress and progress is always a good thing.



  10. Reply


    Oooph, Maree, the Lord has had to call me to reckoning when my perfectionism prioritizes my husband’s heart AFTER achieving the standards I think we should meet. Thanks for the honest story and (excellent!) list of signs we are being perfectionistic. So helpful!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Oh, I would love to meet you. Yes, this journey of a recovering perfectionist is long. God keeps after me. Glad the list was helpful. Blessings, Maree

  11. Reply

    Karen Del Tatto

    I definitely have a tendency toward perfectionism for sure. I was finishing up a book last week, during my mental health day, lol., “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” and the author stated that we are not called to strive for perfection, but to strive toward excellence. I didn’t realize how different those two words really are. Especially, when there is only One perfect Person, Jesus Christ. Striving toward excellence is a life of obedience to God.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” is one of my favorite books. In fact, I have it listed on my “Monthly Favorite” page. It was a life-changing book for me. Here next one is great too. You are so right we only have one perfect person – Jesus. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It means the world to me.


  12. Reply


    I’ve definitely made progress in dealing with perfectionism but there are times when it’s easy to cross the line and fall back into it. Thanks for sharing this list of clues. These are helpful indicators of when that is happening.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Lesley, Progress is good!!!!! I too have made progress, but it is so easy to fall right back into it. I am glad you found the clues helpful. Blessings, Maree

  13. Reply

    Lisa notes...

    Perfectionism can be a sneaky thing because yes, we can hide it under the guise of excellence. I like your list of 10 ways to watch out for it. I have perfectionistic tendencies so I need to stay alert. Thanks for being so vulnerable here, Maree.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Lisa – I love what you said, perfectionism is sneaky. Even when I think I have it licked it comes back to haunt me. I am a work in progress. Blessings, Maree

  14. Reply

    Michele Morin

    Maree, you’re cutting pretty close to the bone here, but I’m thankful to report a success in this arena because of the gracious and wise input of my pastor and his wife. It’s such a gift to be met with mercy and to be encouraged that God does not keep score.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      It is a gift to be met with mercy and encouragement. I too have had some wonderful people speak into my life. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for them and of course God.



  15. Reply

    Erin @ burdenfreecaregiving.com

    You have such a good story here. You brought out the truth, Maree. And, wasn’t God good to allow only one couple to show up that day? God knew exactly which two people your husband needed at that moment.
    I think all of us women strive for perfection, especially in front of other women. I clean my house to a whole different level when I know women are coming by, not just kids or men. You have another winner in this post. Hopefully I can pin this one to a couple of boards.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      Thank you once again for reading another post and taking the time to comment. You know I never thought about how blessed we both were that only one couple showed up that night. It could have been an entirely different outcome. What I find so surprising is how our experiences all prepare us for what is ahead. I later hosted and led a group in my home with just ladies. It was a time in my life when you never quite knew what to expect at our home. I had to learn to accept grace and just let it be.

      Thanks again for reading and pinning.


  16. Reply

    Theresa Boedeker

    Great list and all so true. Lack of joy and being highly critical with others and myself is my warning sign. When grace has flown out the window and criticalness has entered, I need to stop and run away from perfection. I have been a recovering perfectionist for years. When you are raised to be perfect, it becomes ingrained in your soul. But grace and love for self and others do send it on the run.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Theresa, Great words, ” Grace and love for self and other do send it on the run.” My biggest warning sign is a lack of joy, but all apply. Hope your weekend is spectacular. Blessings, Maree

  17. Reply

    julie@unmasking the Mess

    Great post! I have been aiming at perfectionism my whole life…it’s exhausting and impossible. I know God is working in me to let it go:)
    Visiting from #GraceMoments

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Julie, I think many of us are in the same boat. Just when I think I have let it go the perfectionist come back out. I have a feeling God will always be working on me in this area. Blessings, Maree

  18. Reply

    Barbara H.

    It’s such a hard balance sometimes. I first heard the term “striving for excellence” in college, and it was a true light bulb moment in my life. That hadn’t been a part of my thinking up til then, and I saw the necessity of not just carelessly plowing through, but doing everything with excellence as unto the Lord. But, yes, I have struggled with perfectionism as well. Truly resting in being “accepted in the Beloved” helped tremendously. Realizing that nothing we do will ever be truly perfect in this life helped as well. Great tips here! And thanks for stopping by my blog!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Barbara, Beautiful words, well spoken. So true nothing we ever do will be truly perfect. Maree

  19. Reply


    Amen! I broke up with perfectionism a few years ago, but sometimes I wane and end up on a blind date during weak moments. “Lack of joy” is my first clue. Thanks for this great post!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Karen, Glad to hear you got away from the perfectionism a few years back. I love how you said it, “but sometimes I wane and end up on a blind date during weak moments.” Your words brought a smile to my face. Believe it or not, I did the same thing last night of all nights in the middle of this series. Thank goodness today is a new day. Blessings, Maree

  20. Reply

    Donna Reidland

    You nailed it Maree! I can see myself in some of those items on your list. It’s something I keep working on changing!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Donna – Wow, what a compliment. I too am working on it all of the time. I do have to say shedding the perfectionism is so freeing. Maree

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: