If you're an overachiever, you're probably really good at getting things done, which is why you get really good grades, get into great universities, and get good jobs. However, when you embark on new challenges, such as advancing your career without a set schedule, taking additional courses as well as balancing adulthood, or starting a side hustle alongside a full-time job, planning becomes more difficult.
There is no “perfect” way to do this because everyone's life and goals are different, but this is especially true for high achievers, because we are conditioned to excel in ways that others cannot.
It can be very easy to wear “busy” as a badge of honor, because in particular, as an overachiever, you may also have a sense of impostor syndrome and fear that you are not living up to the expectations of others or yourself.
This combination of being a high achiever, always busy, and imposter syndrome leads to a lot of planning mistakes that ultimately lead to….
- Extreme stress while trying to deal with your stressful schedule
- Blame yourself because you cannot fulfill your obligations
- Irritability when you put your health and relationships on the backburner
- And ultimately exhaustion.
That's why, today I want to talk to you about the four planning mistakes that all high achievers make (including me!) and the solution that helped me the most. Let's get started!
1) Leave things until the last minute because you think you work better under pressure
Now, when I was younger, I always left everything until the last minute because I thought I worked better under pressure. And that's the thing, I got away with a lot. In school, you are not usually rewarded for your effort, you are rewarded for the result. I never submitted an assignment early because I wanted to wait to make sure I had all the information; I've been a perfectionist when it comes to my papers.
However, as an overachiever with imposter syndrome, what I was doing was not wanting to face the fact that I might not be “good enough” or “smart enough.” I understand now that what I was doing was wanting to make sure I wasn't “wasting effort” and was actually giving something 100% for fear of failure. How embarrassing would it be if I spent two full weeks working on a paper and only got a C? This would crush my belief in myself that I am “naturally” smart because that is what everyone thinks of me. I I loved being able to attribute my success to my natural abilities and not to my ability to grow. I was very into a fixed mindset in my high school and college days.
This is a grave planning mistake that all outstanding students make. It is planning things at the last minute because we think that is how we will do it. The idea of wasted effort can be very uncomfortable but it is important to understand that in life, There's no bar anymore. So, by leaving things until the last minute, it's not only extremely stressful and confusing (not to mention physically impossible because I can't stay up all night now that I'm over 30), but it doesn't really work anywhere.
In school, there are only a limited number of factors that can influence your success, when you are an adult, there can be hundreds of factors that influence your planning, and if you have children, there can be thousands of factors. That's why, as high achievers, it's so important to understand and challenge your belief that you do better at the last minute.
- I'm currently still in school, and now I'm already planning the deadline in advance.
Who doesn't like efficiency, right? As an overachiever, one of the planning mistakes you've probably told yourself is that you're excellent at multitasking, but the problem is that above-average results just aren't enough anymore. When you're in school, standards are set, so yes it was easier to multitask, but as a mid-career high achiever, the one thing you may not realize about multitasking, is that you're already multitasking – multitasking as an adult. . Being an adult is a juggling act in itself. You have to plan what to eat for dinner, what your kids do, bills, finances, taking care of sick loved ones…the list goes on and on.
We still believe we can multitask because we believe we can accomplish multiple things at once. And this is what I think is so vital about the financial work-life balance framework that I talk about a lot and what I work on with my clients.
One of the biggest mistakes high achievers make is An all or nothing mentality in which we have to be in perfect balance all the time, with 20% for work, 20% for family, etc. in a perfect pie chart. But life doesn't work that way. At any given time, there will be many different things happening at the same time.
Multitasking can work in certain situations, like being able to wash dishes and listen to podcasts (one of my favorite things), but it's really important not to overexert yourself and sometimes that comes to terms with the fact that you're a human, not a robot, and there are things that affect your How you do each task.
You won't feel productive all the time, as you progress through life there will only be more and more factors that affect your work-life balance, and it's important to be able to focus your time effectively rather than efficiently to ensure that you have a work-life balance overall. And sometimes that means spending 100% of your time with your family and not multitasking. By sending work emails too or really enjoying your favorite Netflix show without scrolling through Instagram because you can't fully enjoy your “me” time if you can't follow the plot.
Multitasking isn't all or nothing either, you don't have to do it or never do it, but there is a time and a place and it's important to plan using an effective method (more on that in #4!)
3) Don't plan to get tired or tired
Speaking of not being a robot, you're going to get tired. You are human and need to eat, sleep, shower, and perhaps nap intermittently. You won't be productive 100% of the time. You will also need to step away from the activity and allow your mind to do nothing.
When you're a high achiever, it can be very difficult to admit this, because you may have felt like you were in a high productivity mode when you were younger, so why couldn't you keep going?
Well, the thing we tend to forget is that as you get older, as you advance in your career, make greater investments in your life and yourself, and grow as a person, you have more responsibilities….and that can be tiring.
When you were younger, you probably had a parent who helped you make dinner, clean up, and deal with the things that could actually go wrong in life (isn't adulthood just about learning about a whole lot of responsibilities you didn't even know could exist?). Not taking this type of change into account is one of the crucial planning mistakes that will hold you back.
Especially if you decide to have children, pets, or become a homeowner, all of this brings additional responsibilities and additional things on your mind that can be stressful. As a high achiever, It can be hard to admit that we actually can't do it all, we need to rest, we need to fully recharge our batteries and get a good night's sleep, eat well, and take care of ourselves, but this is absolutely essential for our health. Overall success needs to be planned.
- I won't be going out of clubs anymore
4) Use one size fits all planning methods
The last thing I want to talk about today is how to plan. One planning mistake that most high achievers make is using a “one size fits all” approach. Now, I've tried basically every type of layout. I made physical planners, digital planners, diaries, and also experimented with different types of planners like simple no-date books and fancy planners (they were on sale).
And one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that as a high achiever, It's not how you plan that's important, it's how you deal with it and adapt to high achiever and perfectionist tendencies which include an all-or-nothing mentality, not planning to be human, not integrating work-life balance, and people. -Satisfy and much more.
For this reason, I am currently developing my own planning style that allows me to approach planning with a growth mindset, how to improve over time while maintaining productivity. This is the method I am currently developing for my client portal and with my clients, because I believe that planning for high achievers is different. It's very easy to make these planning mistakes. No, we're not inherently “lazy” so we don't need to be motivated by a to-do list, but your instinctive reaction is probably to over-accomplish your to-do list and put in more to wow yourself! As a high achiever, it can also be easy to want to take on more to avoid falling short of big, scary goals.
So, if you are having difficulties actually following through with your plans, remember that they may not be the case The motivation problem, or something “wrong” with you, may be in the planning mistakes themselves and how you deal with them.
That's why I'm so passionate about talking about personal growth because once you develop the personal growth skills to overcome imposter syndrome, create boundaries and achieve work-life balance, it will spill over into other parts of your life. If this is something you're struggling with, I'd love to help! I'm confident you're not alone, and that there are many layers to maintaining work-life balance, a skill that makes the rest of your life easier. Be sure to book your free Career Clarity Call to see if 1:1 coaching is right for you!