2. Afraid of failure
Of course, the need to please also translates into a fear of failure more generally, leading to risk-adverse decision making. As Everyday Bright reader Tricia Best-Hurtubise says in the Facebook discussion
As an ex-perfectionist, I would also take the “safe” job, the “sure” bet… the things I knew that I could do. The only way I would try something different is if I could reconcile it to something I already knew–that would give me the confidence to try it.
It’s important to recognize that the term “over-achiever” is a negative trait, a strength turned weakness. Achieving turns those dreamers into doers, but over-achieving is haunted by the necessary trial-and-error involved in any big endeavor. And this, as Tricia points out, leads wonderfully talented people to underestimate their abilities and choose the safer bet.
Reframe: Stop praising yourself for achievements and start focusing on your ability to work hard and take risk. This goes for conversations with friends and family as well as your internal monologue. The truth is, people love a struggle. Get them involved in your efforts, and you’ll replace the congratulations with honestly peppy cheerleaders.
3. Inability to take a step backwards
As I said in my post Want to Change Your Life? Let Go of Your Old One, you may have to take a step back in order to take make progress towards the right destination. Too often, over-achievers are so focused on the implications of taking a step back, they’d rather keep moving toward something they don’t want or no longer care about than do what’s necessary to change course.
This is especially true in career change, where there’s some unwritten code about what jobs constitute a step back in the first place. Again, the real issue is an image problem, not one of momentum.
Reframe: Remember that the truly exceptional people in nearly any field are the ones who’ve been willing to tear down what they first created to build something better based on all their lessons learned. Tiger Woods had to completely overhaul his golf swing. Steve Jobs had to re-evaluate the early concepts of the Mac before he could completely dominate personal computing with handheld devices.
Read more: 5 Mistakes That Cause Overachievers to Fail