There’s no actual definition of what it means to be an overachiever. Most people don’t think achievement is a problem. But overachieving can get sticky.

The problem is how an overachiever goes after or works to maintain a certain level of achievement. Overachieving can be either a problem or an inspiration, depending upon how you look at it. Whether you see overachieving as a problem or an inspiration, there are positives and negatives. Here are some pros and cons of being an overachiever.

Pros of being an overachiever

Being an overachiever has many positive aspects. Here is a list of some of them.

1 – An overachiever know how to get the job done

If you want something done, ask an overachiever to do it. They know what you want and what each step should look like to accomplish it. Not only do they accomplish what they set out to do, but they often get it done faster than others. This is because they’re already thinking about the next thing they want to do. Overachievers wholeheartedly embrace Tennyson’s thinking when he said, So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.

2 – Focused on getting things done

Overachievers focus on what needs to get done, and they don’t get thrown off course by unexpected things. They get back on track and keep going. They also don’t fall into wasting time or doing mindless activities. An overachiever is a good time manager. Here are some things they might use to stay focused and not waste time.

  • Set goals
  • Keep a schedule
  • Establish priorities for the day, week, month, etc.
  • Keep track of time
  • Do the hard stuff first
  • Notetakers
  • Keep themselves accountable
  • Let technology work for them
  • Don’t get caught up in social media

3 – Ask others for help

Even though they get accused of overworking, overachievers know when they need help, an overachiever isn’t afraid to acknowledge they don’t know it all. They seek expertise from the right people. You’ve probably noticed how well-known overachievers surround themselves with a skilled team of people. This allows the overachiever to focus on what they’re supposed to do and lightens the load for everyone.

4 – Stay fit

Another positive thing that overachievers do is to stay fit. They’re often the people who get up first thing in the morning to exercise. They say exercising increases their energy level and gives them a clearer mind. One example of someone like this is Richard Branson, founder of over 400 companies. He’s a self-proclaimed overachiever who insists that exercise is critical to his day. It’s no secret that movement has many health benefits. Overachievers embrace training because they know it gives them the stamina and energy they need to accomplish their goals. Some benefits of exercise include:

  • Help you control your weight.
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease
  • Help you manage your blood sugar
  • Can help you quit smoking
  • Improves your memory and mood
  • It helps you think better, improves your judgment and ability to learn

5 – A boss often leans on an overachiever

It’s no secret. If you’re an overachiever, your boss will probably pick you to do a job they want doing well and right away. Good chance you’ve earned their trust and know they can depend upon you. Those who say overachieving is negative frown upon being singled out. You may enjoy the limelight and like the challenge of being asked to do something special. It depends upon your perspective.

6 – Always busy

Overachievers love to stay busy. They start their day in the early morning hours and work late into the night. These folks get more done in 24 hours than most people do. They have a full schedule, and that’s the way they like it. Part of the thrill of their job is the traveling, scheduling, and planning it requires. Overachievers like challenges, so it only makes sense they enjoy the challenge of fitting everything into their day.

7 – Planner

Part of the reason overachievers are so successful is their ability to plan well. They make plans for work, home, exercise, and everything else. Of course, they plan meetings and other business-related things, but they also plan free-time and social activities. Their schedule is complete, but it’s well planned out, so they aren’t wasting time. Their personal goals are also planned out. Overachievers think ahead by days, months, and years. They often have a 5- year plan for their business and personal goals. With planning, overachievers are specific. They use things like:

  • Goal setting in every area of their life
  • Outlining their goals
  • Asking questions about plans for the future
  • Steps they want to take to reach their goals

8 – Play as hard as they work

It’s true; overachievers have a reputation for being hard workers. An overachiever is different from a workaholic because they always have an end goal. Once they have achieved it, they are ready to relax and play. They love exhilarating activities on vacations like

  • Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Hang gliding
  • Standup paddleboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Rafting
  • Surfing

Overachievers love the rush of playing as hard as they work.

Cons of being an overachiever

So, there can be cons to being an overachiever. Here are some common problems an overachiever could face

1 – An overachiever might miss out on today

Overachieving can cause you to focus so much on future goals that you lose sight of today. It’s essential to live in the present, even if you have plans and goals. Enjoy what is in front of you today because it may not be there. Keep a balance of focusing on the end game but having a clear view of the present.

2 – Overachievers tend to work too much

Overachievers are known for being workaholics. This moniker may be an unfair characterization of them, but some individuals fit this description. They may be the first person to arrive at the office and the last to leave the office in the evening. What started as just working long hours for a specific period may have turned into a regular habit of working long hours and pulling all-nighters to finish a project. A workaholic overachiever never takes vacations because they’re too busy.

3 – Can’t say no

Overachieving means you take on extra work at the expense of your personal life. You get yourself involved in every detail of a project. It’s hard for an overachiever to say no because they love a challenge. The fantastic thing is that they usually have an enormous capacity. It’s not until they have problems with their health or at home that they limit themselves.

4 – Unhealthy habits

Overachievers push themselves beyond the limit. They work long hours, pull all-nighters, and rarely take a break. This is dangerous to their health and can lead to risky behaviors such as

  • Not eating, so they lose a lot of weight
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Drug taking for energy and clear their mind
  • doing unethical things to cut corners to finish a job

5 – Anxiety

High demands, long hours, and pressure to finish a job can lead to anxiety and stress. Being on edge because of stress can lead to being easily frustrated with your family or co-workers. There isn’t a work anxiety disorder, but specific symptoms point to anxiety from being overworked. These include:

  • Worry
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling edgy and nervous
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lump in your throat
  • Racing heart
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating

6 – Refuse to delegate

Many overachievers ask for help when they need it, but some refuse to delegate. Because they’re perfectionists, they assume no one can do as good of a job as they can. Thus, if an overachiever doesn’t delegate, they end up a workaholic, stretched to the limit.

7 – Family life and social life suffer

One of the biggest cons of being an overachiever is that their family and social life suffer. They miss out on family time with their kids, spouse, and extended family. They’re too busy to take their child to a swim class or dinner with their spouse. Their friends give up asking them to do things since they always say no.

Why are some people overachievers?

Why are some people are high achievers and others aren’t? You often see these differences in people at school. Researchers say that the differences between low achievers and low achieving students are related more to personal factors than intelligence. They suggest that the most significant factors are self-regulation, learning strategies, and study techniques. Also, students’ attitudes about school and the teachers affect their achievement levels.

Final thoughts on knowing the pros and cons of the overachiever

Interestingly, there is little scientific research on overachieving and whether it’s negative or positive. Being an overachiever isn’t a bad thing. If someone calls you, it could mean they think you’re innovative and successful. But if overachieving means you’re overworking and stressed out, then it probably is a bad thing for you. It could be time for you to reevaluate your life and how you approach your work.