For most of my life I have based my success and happiness on my performance. I am highly task driven. To-do Lists (aka Accomplishment Lists) are my jam. I gain immense satisfaction from crossing items off a list. It’s all about productivity. In the past, if I did not feel productive I would feel like a failure. This led to workaholic tendencies throughout my corporate career. While these tendencies gained me respect for working hard and led to promotions, they resulted in chronic stress and eventually burnout.
If this is relatable, welcome to life as a Hyper-Achiever
By definition, a Hyper-Achiever is dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Hyper-Achievers are intensely focused on external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.
Hyper-Achievers are often competitive as well as image and status-conscious. They are good at hiding insecurities and most often show a positive image.
Common thoughts of Hyper-Achievers include: “If I can’t be outstanding, why bother. I am worthy as long as I am successful and well thought of.”
The lie of a misguided Hyper-Achiever is that workaholic tendencies are the only way to be successful. As long as a high level of productivity is maintained, success is imminent.
We are not born Hyper-Achievers. These tendencies are often a product of either conditional or absent validation from our parents. My mother suffered from mental illness, which manifested in high anxiety and moodiness. Growing up, if I did something to displease her, she would shut me out for days at a time. When she was happy (in a good mood), she would shower me with love and affection. It was very confusing as a child. My Hyper-Achieving tendencies developed as a way to receive positive attention and approval for doing well in school, keeping my room tidy, being polite, etc.
If you’re a high functioning Hyper-Achiever you may be very productive and successful in your career. How’s your stress level? Do you feel happy and fulfilled? Are you in good health? If your stress level is high, you spend all your time at work or thinking about work, and you have little time for self-care, consider this a wake-up call. As a recovering Hyper-Achiever and a burnout survivor, I can attest that your Hyper-Achieving tendencies will backfire and you’ll eventually reach burnout.
Learning to say no is imperative for the Hyper-Achiever
This falls into the category of setting healthy boundaries. Being over-scheduled creates stress and anxiety, lowers productivity, and leads to poor health. A common misconception of Hyper-Achievers is that saying no will make them look bad. In actuality, saying no shows that you value your time and commitments.
Another way to manage time is by prioritizing tasks in order of importance. This provides perspective of what is truly important. Hyper-Achievers often have the mindset that all tasks are equally important and must be done at the same time. This is ridiculous and is a recipe for overwhelm. Time blocking tasks helps with focus and adherence to deadlines.
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