Overachievers generally have impressive resumes because they overextend themselves and do not know how to succeed without overachieving. Overachievers commonly interpret comments like “somebody has to do this” as “I have to do this.” In fact, an overachiever assumes the name “somebody” on a regular basis. Delegating responsibilities can represent a challenging task for the overachiever. Furthermore, the overachiever usually has a back-up plan in the event the delegated task does not come to fruition because, after all, “the only dependable thing in life is that people are undependable.” That last phrase often epitomizes a longstanding view of the world held by many overachievers.
Resentment-driven emotions can plague an overachiever, as well. Resentment that others do not work as much or as hard can easily overwhelm, infuriate, and depress an overachiever. Overachievers often worry that if they do not put in 200% effort they will inevitable fail. Worse, overachievers can easily believe they are not “good enough” if they do not work as hard as possible. Consequently, “as hard as possible” often means every hour of every day, so it can be easy to see how an overachiever can set him/herself up for failure. The best overachievers also portray a sense of modesty, which causes others to interpret their success as good fortune – and then, of course, the overachiever may laugh with an undertone of resentment that others cannot see how hard he/she works to merely appear lucky.
Overachievers often see that they have constructed a life around the pursuit of success through hard work and excessive effort. They tend to punish themselves or feel ridden with guilt whenever they relax. The more insightful overachievers can see that designing a life around success – or rather, designing a life around “not failing” – has left them surviving the day rather than thriving in life.
If any of the above sounds familiar and/or you identify yourself as an overachiever a good first step is usually to begin questioning some of your longstanding beliefs about success and achievement. Can you succeed without constantly fearing failure? Is it okay to take a break without punishing yourself? What would happen if you simply put in 100% effort? When you say “good enough,” for who must you be good enough? Once you achieve your goal, will you be happy or simply move toward the next goal? And when does that cycle end? Is there a way to live the life you want without sacrificing it to the achievement of goals? Honestly contemplating these questions and ones like them can start shining the light toward the direction of a value-driven life.