Success is something that everyone strives for, but is it possible to work too hard to achieve your goals? Overachievers are people who do great things but still need to achieve more. Even though they achieve more success than most people, they are never satisfied and always strive to achieve more.
While this behavior can lead to professional and academic success, it can create a major imbalance in a person’s life. High achievers may ignore their own needs or the needs of family and friends to win.
Achievement, in most cases, is a good thing. After all, who doesn’t want to achieve his goals? The problem with overachievement is that it involves achieving this goal at a cost that is greater than the rewards. People often sacrifice their own health, happiness, and relationships to pursue goals that always exceed them.
What is Overachievement?
How exactly do we define overachievement? Is there a point where being successful and high-performing becomes redundant?
While there is no definite definition, most would agree that the problem is not a need to achieve. On the other hand, it is the means used to achieve and maintain that level of achievement that can create problems.
If people judge their own worth purely on success, there is a strong sign that they are achievers.
There are many different settings in which high achievers may display problematic behavior patterns. Some of them are:
In academic settings, achievers are often identified as students who perform above and beyond the standards expected of their age level. They are often contrasted with underachievers, that is, those who perform less well than educators expect.
Both labels are often used in educational contexts, but they are not without controversy. Many believe that burdening students with one of these labels can affect how they are treated by their teachers and as a result, can have an impact on how well students perform in school.
Children who are characterized as high achievers may face higher expectations from their teachers, while those who are perceived as underachievers may not receive the support and guidance they need to succeed in school.
Overachievers tend to be very successful in their professional lives, but they are often known to be hard-working addicts. In leadership roles, they can be seen as too strict and dictatorial because of their unreasonably high expectations of the rest of the group.
They hold standards that are almost impossible to high, and they tend to apply the same course of action to those they supervise. Team members may respect the work ethic of achievers but may feel weighed down by the weight of expectations these leaders hold.
While high achievers may be successful at some things, their tendency to overwork can lead to burnout in the long run.
Trying to maintain high levels of output and performance can be tiring or even impossible to sustain over long periods of time. When an overachieving person reaches his breaking point, admitting defeat or failure can be devastating.
School and work are not the only areas where overachievement is common. People can engage in this type of behavior in a number of places. Struggling to be perfect at parenting, housework, and hobbies are just a few other areas where overachievement can occur.
For example, an achiever who takes part in a community sports league may take this role much more seriously than any other participant, working relentlessly to ensure that he performs far better than anyone else on the team.
Signs of an Achiever
Being an overachiever isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If people say that you are a high achiever, they probably just mean you are smart, successful, and hardworking. But if you feel that your success is being overshadowed by a paralyzing anxiety or fear of failure, it may be time to reevaluate your relentless pursuit of accomplishment.
If you think that you might be an achiever, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself.
Do You Only Care About Results?
Achievers tend to believe that the only thing that matters is getting results. They judge themselves by these standards and they also believe that others judge them in the same way.
Failure isn’t just part of the process for high achievers—it’s their way of measuring their worth. Poor results can be devastating, so high achievers will do anything to avoid failure.
When they achieve a goal, achievers are more likely to experience a sense of relief so they can avoid failure. Instead of feeling proud or excited about their accomplishments, they are relieved that they didn’t fail.
Are you a Perfectionist?
People who excel sometimes become very concerned with perfection. Imperfection is a sign of failure, so achievers sometimes go to great lengths to maintain their perfect image.
Just as achievement is usually a good thing, being a perfectionist isn’t necessarily bad news. This often means that you value good work and are committed to doing your best. When this perfectionism becomes a source of stress and anxiety, it can begin to take a toll on your physical and mental well-being.
Are You Criticizing Yourself?
It is normal to be a little critical of our own behavior and shortcomings. However, high achievers have a tendency to berate themselves for failing to live up to their overly high expectations.
They may set unattainable goals and then subject themselves to criticism and blame for failing to meet these unattainable standards.
Being an achiever can mean that you are more likely to suffer from self-doubt and anxiety. The stress of constantly striving to achieve near-impossible goals coupled with the constant fear of failure can be a major source of stress.
Are You Focusing Only on the Future?
Because they are so busy avoiding negative outcomes, those who excel are always worried about the future. The problem with this is that they regularly ignore hearing and now.
They don’t live in the present because they are too busy worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future. They cannot enjoy the things that are happening because they are too busy worrying about what is to come.
Are You Working Too Much?
If you find that you’re working around the clock and you can’t seem to get a break from it, you’re probably an achiever. Never taking vacations, days off, or even short breaks during the day is a common behavior for high achievers.
This pattern of behavior can occur from time to time, especially during busy periods when you feel that you have a lot to get done.
If this behavior becomes chronic and you can’t seem to “turn off” and relax, there’s a good chance you’re pushing yourself too hard.
High achievers regularly stay late at work, spend all their time working, and even skip simple self-care activities and hobbies to work.
Are You Taking Risks to Achieve Your Goals?
The need for achievement can become dangerous when people begin to engage in risky or unethical behavior to achieve their goals. Overachievers have a tendency to set unrealistic goals. As a result, they may be willing to do almost anything to avoid failure.
Unrealistic health goals, for example, can lead to harmful behaviors that can be detrimental to a person’s overall health. Cutting too many calories to reach your weight loss goals and running too far every day to prepare for a race are two examples. At work, an overachiever may find themselves taking shortcuts or even doing unethical things to be successful.
Are You Experiencing Anger Outbursts?
The demand to go beyond expectations can create tremendous stress—which can lead to emotional outbursts when things don’t go according to plan.
Someone who is already restless can become easily frustrated by coworkers who they feel are holding them back or not pulling their own weight. It’s normal to lose your temper once in a while, but acting inappropriately with the slightest provocation can be a sign that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to achieve the impossible.
Can You Deal With Criticism?
Critical evaluation of performance is very difficult for anyone, but it can be devastating for those who excel.
For high achievers, criticism implies failure and failure is the greatest fear of achievers. If you find yourself taking even the smallest criticism personally, it may be a sign that you should step back.
Do You Ever Feel Satisfied?
High achievers can never settle down and just enjoy the moment. Even after achieving some important goals, they don’t take the time to truly enjoy their success. What matters is what happens next.
If it seems like you’re just moving from one goal to the next without ever stopping to enjoy your accomplishments, there’s a good chance you’re an achiever.
Do You Feel Stretching Too Thin?
In addition to working too hard in general, overachievers are often involved in too many projects. They are not content to just be skilled in a few areas—they want to be successful at everything .
At school, they tend to get involved in every club, organization, or activity they can. At work, they tend to volunteer for as many projects or assignments as they can get involved.
Unfortunately, instead of being proficient in many skills, they may end up not being proficient at anything. Burnout is also a possible outcome.
Are You Motivated by Fear?
There are many different sources of motivation that can compel people to work toward their goals, but high achievers are often motivated by fear. Fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, or fear of appearing weak or incompetent.
This type of motivation serves as a source of anxiety. In the end, you work harder to avoid negative results (failure) than to achieve positive results (achieve the desired goal).
This kind of avoidance-based behavior often causes distress, worry, and negative feelings, all of which can have a bad impact on your self-esteem and self-confidence.
High Performance vs. Achievers
So what separates high achievers from the world’s top performers? Are the two really different?
Overachievers are more focused on reaching the finish line than on the actual end product. Achievement is about reaching a goal—the word itself comes from an Old French term meaning ‘to bring to the head.’ Overachievers focus on doing just that. No matter what it takes, they will get it done.
High performers are focused on achieving their goals, but they are more concerned about how well they perform.
Success doesn’t just mean completing on time or ticking certain tasks off a list. Instead, it’s all about the journey itself, how well the project went, and how much they learned along the way.
The act of doing something isn’t just about getting to the end so you can say it’s done—it’s about performance itself. It’s about doing something, doing it well, making things better, and even learning something from experience.
What You Can Do
If you feel that you are an achiever, there are steps you can take to ensure that your need for success doesn’t get in the way of your physical health, emotional well-being, or social relationships.
Take a Step Back
As you begin to pursue a goal, take a moment to consider why it is so important to you. Is this something you really care about? How would you feel if you didn’t achieve this goal? Do these goals have realistic outcomes?
While it may not change your mind about pursuing your goals, taking a step back into consideration of your motivations can help you gain some perspective on why you are pursuing these goals.
Self Care Practice
Even if you are working hard to achieve your goals, you need to take the time to take care of yourself.
Don’t neglect your well-being, both physical and mental, just so you can keep your nose off that grindstone.
Give yourself a break, reward your efforts, and do something every day that will benefit your health and wellness.
Connect With Others
Overachievers are known to let their relationship suffer in pursuit of their goals. It’s important to remember that maintaining healthy social relationships is actually more likely to support your long-term success. Reach out to others, devote time to your loved ones, and be willing to let others support you along the way.
A Word From The SpiritTip
Being a high achiever can be a great thing. This means that you care about succeeding in a meaningful way—you want to achieve it through great work.
However, overachieving can be unhealthy and contribute to stress, poor relationships, and fear. Fortunately, taking a step back and focusing more on the quality of your success over the quantity can help you gain a better perspective on personal accomplishments.