Monday, November 17, 2008

The Definition of Overachiever

Overachievers are ambitious, driven, and motivated to do (and be) the best. They have a unique mindset that keeps their brain on overdrive and a work ethic that keeps them one step ahead. High expectations and focused intensity are definite characteristics of overachievers. They are always pushing themselves, for more, - whether it’s professionally, academically, personally, or in a sport or hobby.

Being an overachiever is more of a mindset and the manifestation of that mindset in the form of results and accomplishments. They naturally do well in what they choose to do; they put in the necessary effort and hold themselves to a high standard of performance. Overachievers typically work hard, squeeze in as many activities as possible, and try to do be a rockstar in everything they do. Oddly, they don’t see it that way – it’s just the way they are and they push themselves to that level.

Overachievers have high aspirations and like to dream big. There’s always a lot on their plate - their To-Do Lists are full and they have an abundance of ideas for future books, businesses, projects, and improvements. They see every moment as a valuable opportunity to invest in a worthwhile endeavor.

Overachievers also have an overwhelming sense of urgency. While this is part of their recipe for success, it can also backfire when they are unfocused or try to do everything at once. Anxiety strikes when they see their time slipping away and not accomplishing as much as they had hoped.

Despite doing 2-3 things at the same time and using tools/systems to be more effective, overachievers often feel guilty for not doing enough. They feel like they should always be doing more and this creates an ever-present pressure that can, oddly enough, get in the way of their path to achievement. To counteract this overarching need to do more, it's helpful to create a plan of action around their priorities and set realistic and clear goals for the future.

As a fellow overachiever and professional career coach, I work with ambitious people to do this; I help them refine and clarify what they want and how to get there. If you're an overachiever looking to investigate your professional direction or personal ambitions, check out the Overachiever Coach website or contact me directly. I understand what it means to be an overachiever and have helped a number of clients be even more successful in business and in life.


JLB said...

Hi, my name is Jenna and I'm an overachiever. This is pretty much spot on, including the "they don't see themselves as such"

Lee Knight said...

Yes, many overachievers don't feel like they do enough to be considered an overachiever. Check out the post "Why you might feel like an Underachiever":

Being an overachiever means that you share a unique way of thinking with other highly-driven people. The fact that you feel like you should be accomplishing more probably means you share that overachiever mentality!

Pradeep said...

is it completely a good thing?

Nevertheless much better than procrastinating or wondering, not raising that as a concern...

do they have tools to cope when things does not work their way, in face of crisis?

Do they always uphold ethics and greater good?

Anonymous said...

Well my father always referred to me as an overachiever starting in childhood. I just had my first 6 month review on a new job & I was told that I exceeded their expectations. After reading the description, I see I fit it. I do stress out when I do not accomplish a week's worth of things on my to do list in one weekend's time. Although lately I have chosen 3-4 goals to focus in on & accomplish in 1-2.5 years time. I accomplished them in about 1 year or less. This has helped me to focus on what's really important & not let the other stuff get in the way too much. To answer Pradeep- I was in a major crisis about 2 years ago. I devised a plan, worked on it, and the crisis was over in the manner in which I desired. And yes a person can have ethics and still achieve things. Why would you assume they can not?

Anonymous said...

i want to be a overachiever but dont know how.. Any TIPS?:) thank you

Anonymous said...

I do not see being an overachiever as an enviable thing, whatsoever. I have several friends who are 'overachievers' and they usually have skeletons in the closet that set the precedent for such ambition, i.e. they don't understand a love of themselves, or life, as just 'as it is', just 'being', is not enough, is not lovable enough, is not GOOD enough. that's not healthy, however you try and slice it. Second, many of my overachiever friends also have a biological predisposition - ADHD (only to have been discovered when she was 50...all those years never knowing why she 'just couldn't sit still'), high metabolic rates, overactive thyroid etc. there are only 2 of the several I know here in silicon valley who actually fall under the heading of 'super high IQ', which would then make sense for 'wanting of more' not feeling mentally satiated.
last, I also know several who were later hit with a very serious illness, cancer being the predominant.

I think it's GREAT to want a full life, that's fabulous. and to do well at work, that's great. But to not feel ever satisfied with a 'leisurely sunday walk', just hanging with friends or alone all weekend never accomplishing much of anything (without feeling guilty), never realizing being over achieving, or that you are ok and loved as is (and I seriously challenge all to do a hard internal search on this without answering it here....I bet 99.9% of the time you do not feel you or life are adequate as is) just NOT healthy, nor admirable.
Balance, health, love....the most important achievements in life.

Anonymous said...

complete nonsense. with no meaning or use. talk for talk.

Anonymous said...

Is it really a good thing??

Anonymous said...

I 'think' that I'm an overachiever based on some notes that I've read (including this blog). I just wanted to know if it's a good or bad thing? and if there is an 'in between' in underachieving and overachieving? Like a balanced person of some sort. Thanks :)