This is probably the achiever archetype I identify the most with. People who are Constant Achievers (and I at times) live by the motto:
‘You can rest when you’re dead’.
The constant achiever is a multi-tasker who always juggles several big projects. If you identify as a constant achiever work is always on your mind and you are likely checking emails around the clock.
In your spare time, you renovate your apartment, take a language course or prepare for a marathon (yep, yep and yep)
Everything you do has a purpose and a goal. Your to-do list is your comfort blanket and you likely to most things in life very quickly. As a consequence the constant achiever is rarely in the moment and at high risk of burnout.
Drivers and Fears:
Achievement as a safe zone.
Addiction to the ‘high’ of achievement.
It is uncomfortable to take it easy, laziness is frowned upon.
Fear of stopping development.
How to overcome:
Get clear on the negative consequences of constantly achieving. List what it does to your health, relationships, and results.
Practice self compassion. Start with: Avoid saying and thinking judgmental things about yourself, spend time doing things you enjoy, Letting go of external validation.
Behavioral Experiments: This part was central to the ‘achievement detox’ I did a few years ago to limit the damage my achievement addiction. I embarked on a 1 year experiment during which I took on a very junior role at work and banned all achievement focus from my life. It was an eyeopener but also a very painful experience. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy we instead recommend smaller experiments such as:
Post on LinkedIn and stop yourself from checking the results for 24 hours 😉.
Have a dinner party without meticulously preparing the food.
Swim on the slowest lane and allow yourself to be overtaken by everyone
Yep, have tried all three and for a Constant Achiever, it’s hard work and something we need to keep practicing.
Motto: ‘Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing’.
This achievement strategy is about doing everything to perfection, keeping your promise and never ever handing anything in half-baked. Perfectionists often respond to emails immediately so no one has to wait and tend to compensate for the shortcomings of others.
These overachievers scan the reactions of others to pick up any signs of irritation or disappointment so they can figure out a way to correct it. They have a clear view of what life should be like and how we should behave as individuals.
Just like their overachiever cousins – the Comparison Junkies – the Perfectionists keep track of everyone on social media and compare themselves all the time. On a bad day they can spend 60 minutes writing and rewriting a two-sentence email. Chronic procrastination could be the result of perfectionism.
Drivers and Fears:
Fear of failure
Fear others upsetting others
If I make a mistake, it will lead to a catastrophe
I am the reason others feel bad
If I do everything right I am accepted/loved
How to overcome it?
Practice realistic thinking. Because perfectionists are often very critical of themselves, one of the most effective ways to overcome perfectionism is to replace self-critical thoughts with more realistic and helpful statements. Some examples of positive realistic statements: Everyone makes mistakes! Nobody is perfect!, All I can do is my best!
Changing perspective: Perfectionists tend to have a hard time seeing things from another person’s point of view. Start by asking yourself: How might someone else (e.g. a close friend) view this situation? What might I tell a close friend who was having similar thoughts?
Exposure: Having a problem with perfectionism is a lot like having a “phobia” of making mistakes or being imperfect – you get paralyzed by the thought of making mistakes. Exposure is an effective method to overcome your perfectionism, here are some examples of simple exposure practice:
Show up for an appointment 15 minutes late.
Tell people when you are tired (or other feelings that you consider a weakness).
Wear a piece of clothing that has a visible stain on it.
Lose your train of thought during a presentation.
Try a new restaurant without first researching how good it is.
If your perfectionism or other overachiever strategies hold you back and you would like to develop heathier behaviors and strategies – book a free consultation with me and we’ll take it from there.
PS: My own exposure practice while writing this post was to only read through once before publishing 🙂
Next up on the series of overachiever archetypes: The Controller.
Motto: ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’
Achievement by control is about keeping a close eye on everything and everyone around you. If you identify with the Controller archetype you probably know exactly what will happen on Tuesday in 3 weeks and love writing lists and plans.
You prefer to take care of most things yourself and delegation and collaboration could be a challenge for you. The Controller can have a hard time dealing with unexpected events.
Due to their challenge with collaboration and delegation, Controllers risk losing valuable input and inspiration from people around them. In extreme cases they could end up alienating colleagues and friends.
Drivers and Fears:
Fear of losing control
Fear of uncertainty
Will to succeed
How to overcome:
Educate yourself about anxiety and control. Rather than falling back on control as a defense against uncertainty, learn all you can about the fear that is driving you to micromanage. Read books or see a therapist.
2. Ask yourself how effective controlling really is. For example, is asking your teenage son whether he’s brushed his teeth every morning an effective way to make him take responsibility for his dental care? If not, stop and rethink your approach.
3. Ban control-oriented language from your vocabulary. For example, unsolicited advice or criticizing someone’s perspective. Altering your language takes courage, and you must commend yourself for learning how to let go of control.
What advise would you give a Controller? If you identify as one, how do you overcome your need to control?
Had a dry run of my new webinar; Achievement Detox last night. A couple of amazing friends were my guinea pigs and gave me really useful feedback!
All went well except a couple of technical hiccups.
Next week is the first session with a larger audience! Fingers crossed MicrosoftTeams works better for me then.
So far the webinar is only in Swedish but I’m introducing an English version after the summer.
If you or your company are interested in achievement addiction and need inspiration for your work with creating a sustainable work culture – do let me know. Happy to tailor workshops or webinars to your needs.
There are things that beat all other things in life. Events that make other thoughts and worry clouds disappear. When these trump cards are played, your priorities suddenly become crystal clear and the problems that previously occupied your mind feel small.
These days my son is the mother of all trump cards for me. If he is in danger or even just hungry, I become a complete bulldozer ignoring everyone else’s needs, including my own. Particularly painful when he started walking at 9 months and went on kamikaze assignments around the house.
The other day my uncle past away. We were very close and for several days I cried when I thought about his life and what his immediate family is now going through. Death, illness and family are other trump cards for me.
What are your trump cards?
How can we be better at playing them every day without waiting for a crisis to reminds us of what’s important?
Why are we disproportionately affected by certain events? Why do we find some things offensive – not just Insta-offensive?
A while back a friend told him that he resigned from his job after he discovered the management was unethical. He left for a competing organisation and was unfairly accused of stealing trade secrets. His world fell apart and he has still not recovered. Why was he so affected by a situation that someone else might have been able to laugh about over time?
Yesterday I was reminded of a similar experience I had. When I was on sick leave due to stress and at the same time got a new boss, my employer threatened to relocate me due to performance issues. This just six months after I had been selected as top talent. A Kafka-like process was initiated where no account was taken of my circumstances. I fought back with legal means and eventually made them change their position but I still today feel very bad when I think about it.
Why can’t I just brush it off as having the misfortune of working for an incompetent organisation and uncompassionate boss?
What sets my friend apart is his strong sense of justice and integrity. When these core values were questioned, albeit on false grounds, it shook his world.
Similarly, I have understood that one of my fundamental values is achievement. I have as long as I remember wanted to perform, that’s who I am. Even though I know I did a good job under the circumstances, a small part of me died when my performance was questioned. Just like in my friend’s case, my employer pressed the wrong (or right) button. My values were challenged.
One of the most powerful exercises I do with clients is to chart their core values.
Once you know where your buttons are, you can choose who will hit them, when and how.
We usually don’t equate money with happiness – openly at least. At a stretch we say money can make life easier.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about money in relation to time and freedom. How long should you stay in a job you don’t like? How much money do we need before we retire? Or if you start at the other end – how big of a house or car do you really need to be happy?
If toddler parents constantly struggle with time poverty – how can we get our hands on more time?
I read an interesting article from Psychology Today about money and happiness. It claims that there are 3 ways that money can actually make you happy. Buying time is one of them.