Too Much of a Good Thing? The Dilemma of Being an Overachiever

Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The hare is always in a rush, while the tortoise moves at its own slow, relaxed pace. Surprisingly, when the two race each other, the tortoise comes in first, proving that sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

Yes, this is merely a fable. But the lesson holds true in real life as well.

When we spend our time rushing from one task to the next, we can lose sight of what’s really important. We can miss out on beautiful moments. And we can easily experience the symptoms of burnout.

Working towards your goals and staying productive can be fulfilling, but it’s definitely possible to go overboard.

Here are a few of the pitfalls of being an overachiever, and some of the benefits of slowing down.

Fatigue

Pushing yourself too hard and constantly trying to be productive can wear you out! This is especially true if you often find yourself staying up very late to get work done.

Keeping your schedule full at all times doesn’t just do a number on your physical health. It can affect your mental health as well. Being stressed out actually weakens your immune system, and you may end up getting sick more often.

Long-Term Burnout

Genuine, long-term burnout goes beyond simply feeling tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. You may feel like you’ve lost interest in hobbies you used to enjoy outside of work. Perhaps you have no energy to spend time with your friends and family.

You might even feel like you’re experiencing symptoms of depression. Long-term burnout can creep up on you slowly. But once it sets in, it can be hard to shake.

Losing the Spark

Do you ever feel like everyday life simply isn’t fun anymore? You don’t notice spontaneous moments of joy. And it’s rare that you stop and chat with strangers or even stay in contact with old friends.

You feel like the days are simply passing by in a blur, and you’re spending most of them working. Just like you can lose the spark in a relationship, you may feel like you’ve lost your “spark” for life.

Missing Out

Perhaps you’ve skipped fun nights out with friends to work late. Maybe you’ve declined invitations to parties because you chose to work those weekends instead. Or instead of cuddling with your partner while watching a sitcom before bed, you may have been glued to your laptop and sending emails.

When you’re always trying to be more productive and get more work done, you could end up missing out on social connection, fun events, and some of life’s sweetest moments.

How to Find Balance in Your Life

If you’re someone who feels like you’ve been pushing yourself too hard to stay productive, you may worry that loosening up a bit will set back your progress. Maybe you’re afraid that lightening your workload will take you further away from achieving your goals.

But it doesn’t have to be a trade-off. You can still be an organized person with a great work ethic who takes a little time off!

Finding the right balance between work and play is key. It’s entirely possible to be an accomplished and productive professional and also let your hair down once in a while.


Do you feel like you’re always putting pressure on yourself to work harder? Is your schedule always packed, even on weekends and holidays? Does your life lack relaxation and rewarding social connection? If you think that being an overachiever and working too much has negatively impacted your life, I offer therapy to assist with getting back on track and creating a life that is more meaningful and fulfilling.

Bryce Doehne, Psy.D.

Author: Bryce Doehne, Psy.D.

Bryce is a licensed psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy. His specialties include substance use, generalized & social anxiety, depression, dysthymia, relationships & transitions, and identity & values clarification.
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