Confessions of a Serial Over-Achiever

I have a confession.  I am a serial over-achiever. 

After seeing the latest version of Fifty Shades, I realize I share the same feelings as Ana and her love-hate relationship with the red room.

For me, a love-hate relationship with achievement.



I like setting goals – big and small – with a yearning to achieve the “Big O”.

I like flirting the dare of becoming someone new. 

I like to defy my own odds like an “Anastasia Grey” in Fifty Shades Freed.

I take on more tasks, set more goals, and create daring expectations just so I can say, “I did it.”

A by-product of overcoming adversity in my past became a thirst to check “accomplishments” off a list and be pushed into a new level of myself.


And really, I am a hopeless romantic. 

What about the courting?  The foreplay?  Or the post-coital cuddling?

I was craving the connection to my purpose and feeling joy in the journey.

I deserved to take time out for post-achievement celebrations. 


While the success of saying ‘yes’ got me screaming like an herbal essence shampoo commercial, I was taking on too much, doing it for the sake of doing it.  As a result, short term pleasure and long-term pain.


There are two sides to everything. 

Achievement comes with positive attributes and rewards. But the flip side, over-achievement, can lead to stress, poor eating or sleeping habits and complete burn out. I was addicted to the good feelings, failing to recognize the consequences of over-achievement.   

I wanted to be in love with fulfillment, but I was in lust with achievement.


On my path to being a ‘born again accomplishment virgin’, I learned a few things.  Here’s what I learned (in no particular order):

1)    Awareness

I was addicted to feeling the “big O”.  But it was fleeting.  I wanted to feel fulfilled and happy.  Not “one and done” with the list of achievements.   I needed to dig deep to know what was classified fleeting or fulfillment.  I needed to identify my triggers, my habits and reactions.  And course correct if I needed to.  

I asked myself questions like, “What is this I am feeling?  Where is this coming from? Does this make me feel good?”


2)    Desire

While a “big O” is nice, a BIGGER why is better.  Before I say yes, I check myself and determine alignment my bigger why. 

I asked myself, “What is truly the reason I want to do this?  What joy will this bring? Why is this important for me to do?  How is this bringing me closer to my bigger goal?”


3)    Support

This journey is all about the orgy – the clean kind!  There is no way I can learn my triggers or buttons without a group of trusted confidants beside me. I had someone to give me a virtual bitch slap when I was not seeing clear.  Someone to hug me with their words after that. I had mirrors to reflect what I refused to see, mentors to share their own experiences and guides providing advise along the way.

Many times, I sought help, “Who can I call in to support me?  Whose perspective can I see from?”


4)    Temptation

There were many times where I fell silently back into the cycle of “yes, let’s do it.”   The challenge went from confidently avoiding it or replacing with a compromise using “if – then”.

For example, "If I want to say 'yes' to this, instead I will say, 'not yet' until I've reflected.

If I found myself slipping into saying yes to check it off the "I did it list" – I would replace it with a STOP goal or the safe word.  For me, two words, “not yet.”  This allowed me time and space to evaluate if I should say "yes" and when to do so.


5)    Compassion

The last thing I learned, compassion – with myself.  You know, the romance and the love of myself.  Sheesh, I know I tend to beat myself up – guilt, doubt, fear – I let all of these things play a part when I want to say “no” to a potential opportunity to achieve.

Self-love was found through questions like, "Will I give myself permission to change course?  Am I taking on too much again?  How heavy does my current list feel?  It's ok, will you allow yourself to say no to good, so you can say yes to greater?"    


Every now and then, like a bad habit I run back to, I force myself to snap out of it. 

Stop and ask myself, “What is my true desire?”

And intentionally say “yes” because it feels good and brings joy.

Janice Tanaka