So you consider yourself the opposite of a quiet quitter (which is a major misnomer, if you haven’t heard). Instead, you’re an overachiever—always striving to accomplish more and more. As we’ve said before, the stress that comes from overworking yourself can backfire, actually hurting your ability to do your job right. Even if you love giving all your time and effort to your work, it’s important to set boundaries before you over-achieve your way into major burnout.
For many people, anxiety is a major component of their overachievement. The risks of spreading yourself too thin may even harm your career prospects, in addition to your personal wellbeing. Here are some the downsides of overachieving at work and what you can do to manage them while still being your high-achieving self.
Becoming a people pleaser
First off, there’s a crucial caveat to address: Many workers know they must overachieve in order to be treated the same as other people’s bare minimum, depending on their race or gender. Still, knowing how to implement boundaries at work is a necessary skill to avoid burning out in the long run.
If you say “yes” to every little thing at your job, you’ll spread yourself too thin. You might take on tasks when you’re really not the best person for the job. Moreover, this form of overachieving will lead to personal and professional burnout.
Review what your job duties really are. If you’re not sure, set up a one-on-one with your boss to clarify what you’re expected to do, as well as how you can make yourself stand out as an asset (without pushing yourself past your limits).
Prioritizing perfectionism over productivity
Many overachievers struggle with perfectionism, and perfectionism is the enemy of productivity. It breeds procrastination, since perfectionists tend to push projects off out of fears of less-than-perfect results.
If you really care about your work, you must learn how to curb your perfectionism in favor of prioritization. Work smarter, not harder. If you feel like you’ve been losing time and sanity over every little task, consider what kind of work you’re dying over. You could be giving your coworkers the extra time they need to work more strategically, while you’re left in the dust.
Neglecting a healthy work-life balance
If you’re constantly raising the bar for what you can and should accomplish, you’ll fall into a vicious cycle of “insatiable striving with little sense of purpose,” as Harvard Business Review puts it. You might sacrifice your personal life to keep grinding at work without fully assessing the impact of your decisions.
Setting boundaries at work is not only key to your health, but key to doing your job well. We’ve previously covered how to set different kinds of personal boundaries, which largely comes down to knowing yourself and effectively articulating what you need. For instance, learning how to say no (without really saying no) will help you do the job you were hired to do as effectively as possible.
Falling prey to burnout
“Burnout” is a term that gets tossed around casually, but its impact is very real. In addition to mental or physical exhaustion, burnout also leads to feelings of helplessness or incompetence. And for overachievers specifically, burnout is difficult to confront. It can feel like admitting defeat, but ignoring true burnout won’t make it go away—it’ll only make the eventual crash even worse.
Here’s the thing: If you’re an overachiever, you probably aren’t used to scaling back and setting boundaries. I get it. The secret is to channel your insatiable desire to achieve through healthier outlets. Consider making time for things outside of work that satisfy your need for a sense of accomplishment, like a workout session or trivia night.
Ultimately, it’s important to your longterm health to address the root of your overachieving tendencies. Are you in a toxic work environment? Are you anxious and insecure about your work, unable to accept a job well done? Take some time to reflect and recognize when you feel driven by other people’s expectations versus an internal desire to achieve, regardless of the costs to yourself and others.