Do you find that you strive to do your best? Do you often find you are disappointed and beat yourself up when you fall short? You are in the “overachiever trap”.
When you are an overachiever you consistently hold yourself to high expectations and standards set by yourself or others. Being an overachiever often has meant that you have a strong desire to excel and achieve success in various areas of your life, whether it's academics, sports, career, or personal pursuits. And often it is more than one area of your life, if that all you are striving for success. You may work harder and longer than others, be more goal-oriented and ambitious, and strive for perfection in your endeavors. You also place high expectations on yourself and feel a strong sense of accomplishment when you meet or exceed your goals. However, being an overachiever also comes with its own set of challenges, such as burnout, stress, and difficulty balancing work and personal life. Let’s explore this further.
When you begin to face these challenges of burnout, health problems, relationship problems, failing your expectations, and feeling a lack of fulfillment, it becomes unsustainable to continue to set that high bar for yourself as an overachiever.
Burnout: You push yourself to the limit and may neglect self-care in the process. This can lead to burnout, which is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. You may find that you take on more and only take on the most challenging tasks as simple ones are subpar for your expectations. You find that you are then juggling more than what you can keep up with.
Health problems: You may find that you are neglecting your physical health, such as by not getting enough sleep, eating fewer nutrients, or decrease of activity levels/exercise. This may lead to health problems such as chronic stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Relationship problems: You may find that you struggle to maintain healthy relationships due to your focus on achievement and work. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Others may feel you value other things in your life over them.
Unrealistic expectations: You find that you set unrealistic expectations for yourself and even for others, which can lead to disappointment and frustration. Striving to be your best self and wanting others to do the same is not a bad thing, it begins to create challenges and unsustainability when you find yourself or others failing to meet those expectations which negatively affects your life.
Lack of fulfillment: You may find that when you achieve your goals, you are left feeling unfulfilled. This leads to a sense of emptiness and a lack of purpose.
Being an overachiever leads to a cycle of constant striving and never feeling satisfied. It is important to find a balance between achieving goals and taking care of oneself, to prevent burnout and achieve long-term success and fulfillment. A way to rewire things to still be successful and not have those negatives weigh you down is through therapy.
Therapy can be helpful to you as an overachiever in several ways:
Identifying and addressing underlying issues: Therapy will help you identify and address any underlying issues that may be driving your perfectionism or need to overachieve. This may include issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or a fear of failure.
Learning to set healthy boundaries: You may find that you struggle with setting boundaries and may take on more than you can handle. Therapy will help you learn how to set healthy boundaries and say no when necessary. Starting to put your needs first vs. your expectations’ needs.
Developing coping skills: You may see that you struggle with stress and burnout. Therapy will work towards teaching you effective coping skills to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and prevent burnout.
Challenging negative thought patterns: You find that you have a tendency to be self-critical and have negative thought patterns, especially when you do not hit your goals and expectations. Therapy helps you challenge these patterns and develop more positive and realistic ways of thinking.
Finding balance: Finally, you may find that you struggle with finding a balance between work, personal life, and self-care. Therapy will help you develop strategies to prioritize self-care and find balance in your lives.
Overall, therapy can help overachievers learn to be more self-compassionate, find balance in their lives, and achieve their goals in a healthier and more sustainable way.
Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.