Today I wanna look at the signs of an overachiever.
While it’s an admirable quality to be ambitious, determined, and to work hard, taking things too far comes at a cost and is what makes the difference between high performance and overachieving.
When you push yourself so hard to succeed at something that you sacrifice your life-work balance, you risk burning out – and that’s overachieving.
And the thing with overachievers is that no matter how well they do and how far they come, they sell themselves short and are unable to see just how much they’ve accomplished.
Here are 13 signs that you’re more than just high performing – you’re an overachiever and you undervalue yourself.
1) Extremely high standards
Let’s start with the high standards overachievers set for themselves.
When they’re kids in school it’s not enough to get an A – or an A, they need to get an A +, the highest grade possible.
And when they grow up, they constantly need to move up the ladder at work, they can’t accept having a good job with a good salary – they always feel like they can and should do better.
All-in-all, if you’re constantly pushing yourself to work harder and achieve the next level of success, and you don’t realize how much you’ve already accomplished, it’s a surefire sign that you’re an overachiever.
Another sign that you’re an overachiever is that you’re also a perfectionist.
Good enough is never good enough, it has to be perfect. No matter what you do, you strive for perfection.
And guess what – that’s super unhealthy!
Perfection is impossible to achieve, which means that when you make a mistake or notice a flaw – no matter how minor – you’ll start to feel inadequate to criticize yourself for not doing better.
Not only will this overshadow your actual achievements, but it will seriously harm your confidence and feeling of self-worth.
3) Difficulty accepting praise
The thing with overachievers who undervalue themselves is that they just can’t take a compliment.
They work their butts off (pardon my French) to make something happen, but when others recognize and compliment their achievements, they’ll say something like, “I could have done so much better!”
Jeez, learn to take a compliment!
But the thing is they’re not being falsely modest, they’re actually downplaying their achievements because they don’t think they’re significant.
Well, if this sounds familiar, then it could just be another sign that you’re an overachiever yourself.
Do you keep doubting your knowledge and abilities, despite hard evidence of your competence and success?
For example, you’ll attribute your accomplishments to external factors such as luck or timing, instead of recognizing the role your skills and hard work played in your success.
Self-doubt can be a real bitc* and it can affect anyone.
In fact, there are some extremely intelligent and successful people that everyone envies and aspires to be like, who go around questioning their know-how and wondering if they could do better… Go figure.
5) Comparison to others
I learned long ago that comparing myself to other people serves no purpose.
I mean, I’m not a tennis champion or basketball player, my job does not involve competition, so why would I compare myself to other people?
We’re all different and that means that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
It also means that we all mature and reach our peaks at different times.
So, if you keep comparing yourself to your peers and often find yourself feeling inferior or inadequate (despite everything you’ve accomplished), it’s a surefire sign that you’re an overachiever who underplays your own achievements.
6) Always thinking about the next thing
Here’s another thing about overachievers: They have an extremely hard time celebrating their achievements and seem unable to enjoy being in the moment.
Instead, as soon as they come close to achieving their goal, they’ll start to look for the next big challenge.
In short: If you’re always searching for the next big project and you never take the time to enjoy your success and actually acknowledge your accomplishments, it’s because you’re an overachiever.
7) Disregard for personal well-being
This is where it gets dangerous.
When you prioritize success and reaching a certain goal above your health and general well-being, it’s a major red flag!
If you’re so single-minded that you’ll neglect self-care and your relationships, you’re not just a high achiever, you’re an overachiever and you risk having burnout at any moment.
8) Reluctance to ask for help
Is it pride?
The truth is that some people have a really hard time asking for help.
They see it as a sign of weakness or failure, so even when they could really use some support or guidance, they hesitate to seek it.
And that’s how it is with overachievers, they believe they have to do everything by themselves.
And if they can’t?
It just means they need to work harder.
9) Fear of failure
Believe it or not, we all fail from time to time, there’s no way around it. But that’s okay because it’s a normal part of being human.
But overachievers are so obsessed with achieving perfection that they don’t see that failure is an opportunity for growth. It’s a learning opportunity – a chance to do better next time.
Be honest, how scared are you of failing?
It’s important not to let fear get the best of you because it’s sure to make you ignore your successes and focus excessively on any perceived shortcomings and areas for improvement.
10) Seeking external validation
Look, we all like to be complimented from time to time. We all appreciate a pat on the back when we do well.
But if you can’t recognize your own success and worth and you rely heavily on external validation and recognition to feel accomplished, then it sounds to me like you undervalue yourself.
And the fact that you keep breaking your back to get the approval of others shows that you’re an overachiever who’s never satisfied.
11) Imposter syndrome
Ever hear about imposter syndrome?
According to Psychology Today,
“People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees.”
It turns out that a lot of people with imposter syndrome are overachievers. Do you think you have it?
12) Struggling with self-compassion
If you are so critical of yourself that you find it hard to show yourself some kindness and understanding, it could be another sign that you’re an overachiever.
I mean, you’d never be so hard on anyone else. In fact, you’d find it in your heart to be compassionate and understanding.
13) Exhaustion and burnout
Look, I’m not gonna lie to you. The incredible pressure that overachievers put on themselves can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
That’s what happened to my best friend. She was juggling 3 jobs and her studies until one day, she just couldn’t take it anymore.
So, if you feel drained and overwhelmed and yet you keep pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, it’s a surefire sign that you’re an overachiever and that you’re unable to fully appreciate your accomplishments.
How to go from being an overachiever to being a high achiever?
Look, transitioning from being an overachiever to becoming a high achiever is going to take a bit of effort on your part, but it’s super important if you want to preserve your health and well-being.
It’s all about finding a healthier balance and a new perspective on success.
Here are 5 steps you can take to get you started:
1) Reflect on your values and priorities
Start by clarifying what truly matters to you in life and pinpointing what your core values are.
This should help you align your goals and actions with what genuinely resonates with you, instead of looking for external validation and trying to meet others’ expectations.
2 Set realistic and meaningful goals
The next step is to stop setting unattainable goals.
Stop striving for perfection!
Instead, focus on setting realistic and meaningful goals.
Trust me, this is good advice!
It might help to break down your big goals into smaller, actionable steps so that you can experience a sense of progress and accomplishment along the way.
Let’s see what comes next…
3) Practice self-compassion
Seriously, be kind to yourself!
Cut yourself some slack, especially when you’re struggling or when facing a setback.
Being hard on yourself will only make you feel stressed and anxious and that’s not gonna help you get where you want to go.
Show yourself the same compassion you would a dear friend.
And remember, mistakes and failures are a natural part of the learning process! Which brings me to the next step…
4) Cultivate self-awareness
Self-awareness never hurt anyone. In fact, we could stand to profit from being more aware.
Start by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (in this case, related to achievement).
Try to recognize when you’re setting unrealistic goals or engaging in self-defeating patterns.
By developing self-awareness, it will be easier to catch yourself in those moments so that you stop yourself and challenge your expectations and self-criticism.
5) Celebrate achievements and practice gratitude
Let me ask you something:
What’s the point of your achievements if you don’t even take the time to acknowledge and celebrate them?
No point, is there?
So the final step if you want to be a high achiever instead of an overachiever, is to remember to take the time to celebrate your accomplishments and successes, no matter how big or small.
Allow yourself to experience a sense of pride and gratitude for the progress you’ve made – there’s no shame in making it.
Remind yourself of the positive aspects of your journey and the goals you have already attained.
If you can do that, then you’re off to a good start!