I am a hyper-achiever. At first glance that sounds like a good thing. I get lots done and achieve at a high level. I love feeling productive. Ticking things off a list is a great feeling after all!
Being a hyper achiever has helped me get great exam results and loads of qualifications. It’s helped me excel at my jobs. It’s helped me start 2 businesses that are growing. Whilst being a mum to small children (I started the first when my daughter was 6 months old). And (very) briefly lead a political party, volunteer for several organisations, and start a free network for women entrepreneurs!
That’s all great isn’t it? Achieving things is good.
I can remember when my need to achieve started, I was 9 and I became really aware of grades at school. We did a big class test where they read out the results in reverse order in front of the whole class. I was beside myself when my name hadn’t been read, Mr Ormerod worked his way through each name and mine still hadn’t been mentioned. We finally got to second place, Julie. Which of course made me first!! I could have burst with excitement and pride.
I loved the reaction I got from others, which was further compounded by my dad who was well known for comments such as “only 97%, what happened to the other 3?” (an actual quote from what I believed to be a miraculous result for my maths exam)!
So a hyper-achiever was born, and with that a lifetime of success…and stress!!
When you add being a people pleaser into the mix, then the stress can get pretty high. Yet I, like many of the clients I work with, didn’t really see it as stress. It felt like drive. I got results, which felt like success!
But that’s not the whole story. Not everything feels so great. There are definitely problems…
Fear of doing things I don’t think I’ll be amazing at (or giving up after trying once).
Not asking for help in case I tarnish my achievement crown!
Not to mention the intense pressure I placed on myself to get things done and be brilliant.
And the number of days I felt flat because I haven’t achieved the insane level of productivity I’d set for myself.
Thankfully I’ve broken the cycle (mostly), and can catch myself before I head down that path of stress. Does that mean I’m not achieving anything? Absolutely not. Instead I’m working with more ease and flow. I’m focusing on what’s important and letting the rest go…or delegating it!
So here’s my top tips to shift from pressured productivity to peak performance!
- Recognise the stress. Sometimes it’s not until it’s gone that we realise it was ever there. I see it time and time again with my Leadership clients. They’re so in the groove of doing and achieving, that it’s only when they start working with me and feel the relief, that they see the level of stress they were actually under!! How does it show up for you? Poor habits, tension, disrupted sleep, eating too much or too little, tiredness, irritability. Pay attention to what your body is telling you!
- Prioritise. That’s actually my word of 2022! Really prioritising is about stepping back and asking yourself…what is actually important here? Is there a bigger goal that needs to be achieved? What are the key actions that will take me/ us closer? It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of busy doing things that DON’T ACTUALLY MATTER. And while you’re prioritising, put the next point to the top of the list.
- Self care habits. I’m not talking a weekly massage and getting your nails done (though those things are lovely). I’m talking about self care habits that help you look after yourself and perform at your best. Like; exercise, healthy eating, time in nature, proper time connecting with friends and family. Whatever it is that nourishes you. For me it’s Positive Intelligence, exercise, and journaling. I build this into (almost) every day.
- Intention. It’s so easy with the busy lives we lead to run from one thing into the next. Bringing the energy (good or bad) from one situation to another. When really we need to reset and consider our intentions. Taking a breather between meetings is so simple yet massively important. Taking time out before your start the day, or before transitioning into something else to ask yourself…what do I want to happen here? What’s really important? And how do I need to show up to get the best from this?
- Reframe fear and failure. I used to be so afraid of getting things wrong and looking bad. It was a paralysing fear. When you stop looking at things as failure and instead view them as experience or a lesson, life really changes!! I now see fear as an indicator I’m doing something important and exciting. I see things that go wrong as a gift of learning and an opportunity to grow. Without these setbacks I would be stagnant and actually shrink! You need to fail so you can excel. It’s actually your ultimate personal trainer for success.
- Ask for help and delegate. If you’ve got this far in this article then you’re probably the type of person who loves to solve your problems yourself. There may be an underlying fear that asking for help will show a weakness and tarnish your reputation. The reality is, you are probably robbing people around you of opportunities by doing too much yourself. The opportunity to feel good about helping, to learn, to grow in skills and responsibility! You are holding yourself and others back. And once you start it’s the best thing. So ask away. And delegate as much as you can. Huge relief lies on the other side! And guess what, other people may even do it better than you.
- Lighten up! Hyper achievers can take life way too seriously. The world doesn’t end when you let something drop or get someone else to do it. In fact you may even free up some time and energy to enjoy the fun things in life!
I always say to clients, it’s simple steps that lead to big results. But nothing changes until you do something differently!!
If you’re ready to level up your leadership and personal performance skills then you’d love my Impactful Leader PQ Mastermind!
Designed to help Directors and above navigate the leadership landscape with high performance and low stress! It’s a unique approach that will change your life. I’m currently talking to people for the waiting list for my next cohort. You can book in a call with me here