5 Toxic Habits of High Achievers

Many of us have goals we strive to reach. But despite how challenging and lofty some of them might sound, when we have an ambition set in place, having a vision of the finish line can serve as enough motivation to chase after it. If this sounds like you, you’re likely to be a high achiever!

While it may sound like a grand title to have, by being someone so dedicated in reaching success, doing so can also cause you to pick up a couple not-so healthy habits and practices along the way. But by acknowledging them and understanding their consequences, we can use what we know to help change any harmful behaviors we have in order to steer clear of them. While the list definitely goes on, here are 5 toxic habits of high achievers:

1. You Find It Hard to Say “No”

High achievers are the people others know to be hardworking and reliable, making them everyone’s go-to when there’s a favor to be asked, or something that needs to get done. Whether it’s a boss that hands them an almost-toppling paperwork stack to complete right as they’re about to go home, or a friend asking for homework answers, despite having enough on their plate, a high achiever might be quick to say yes to whatever it is they’re asked.

If this is you, struggling with saying “no” could be due to a need to please other people, which could stem from fearing disappointment, or wanting to avoid conflict, especially with superiors like teachers or bosses.

The problem with this, though, is that being unable to voice a genuine answer prevents you from defending your needs, like your time and energy. Also, taking on favors or last-minute tasks you don’t necessarily want to do not only adds onto your to-do list, but also doubles any stress you already have, making you prone to burnout and running out of steam quickly.

By putting other people’s needs before your own, you’re being unfair to yourself, and pushing aside how you really feel.

2. You’re Too Independent For Your Own Good

If you’re a high achiever, you might see yourself as your best teammate. Independent high achievers like you are the ones who go solo during optional group work, and take pride in acing a science project done by yourself; it’s no doubt you’re more than capable of taking on tasks that come your way.

While being an independent worker is great, everyone has times where they aren’t able to shoulder everything they want to take on. And for high achievers, no matter how big or difficult some tasks may be, they might see them as one-man jobs anyway.

If you relate to this and have difficult seeking help when times get overwhelming, it’s unhealthy to force yourself to try and get the task done anyway. Whether you do so because of pride, and thinking you should be able to handle things by yourself, or because you think you’ll be a burden to others, it’s important to know that asking for help is more than okay, and doing so doesn’t mean you’re any less capable as a person.

At the end of the day, we can only take on so much, and have limited amount of energy. This is why sometimes, two heads can be better than one when we’re in need of a helping hand.

3. You’re a Perfectionist

Perfectionists always put in their best efforts, and never skip a beat when it comes to going the extra mile. They’re the people that never settle for less than an A+, or aren’t content until they get a thumbs-up from their boss.

However, setting yourself strict high standards like these can easily set yourself up for disappointment, because even slightly falling short of your standards can result in a big blow to your self-esteem.

If you’re a perfectionist, you could be someone who has a self-worth reliant on your performance, or someone who feels validation from their achievements. If so, high achievers like you might often find themselves dealing with self-doubt and feeling inadequate, as well as having difficulty coping with failures.

By striving for perfection, you disregard the fact that you’re human, and are bound to make mistakes. This, needless to say, is not a healthy approach to doing your best.

4. You’re Highly Self-Critical

Highly self-critical people are their worst enemy; even when they do a job well done, they still might always find something to criticize, making them almost never satisfied with their work output. Because of this, they’re people who sell themselves short by fixating on their weaknesses, instead of their strengths. 

If you’re highly self-critical, it’s likely due to a low self-esteem, and possibly growing up around parents/guardians who placed unrealistic standards on you.

Being hypercritical can make you blame yourself for any mistakes and failures of yours by chalking them up to self-proclaimed shortcomings in your abilities. It can also make you someone unable to accept compliments from others as is, by always responding with a flaw of yours to bring yourself down.

We all have our moments of self-pity and self-blame when things don’t go our way, but it’s important to remember even the most well accomplished people have had their fair share of failures too.

5. You Neglect Self-Care

Because of “hustle culture”, and the common belief that we always have to be working hard in order to achieve our goals, this can lead many high achievers to doing just exactly that. But, as a result, this can also make it easy for them to neglect self-care practices during their hustle.

If this is you, you might be someone who believes the fastest way to success is to work constant long, hard hours each day. So, you might find yourself skipping well-needed breaks, having a poor sleep schedule, or not making time for activities you like to do for the sake of entertainment.

Being fixated on making the most of your time by only doing work can even lead to feelings of guilt when you do happen to do things like watch a movie, or hangout with friends, which doesn’t allow you to fully enjoy these moments.

By neglecting self-care, high achievers are likely to work themselves to the point of burnout, which they might only realize once it’s too late.


Even while we work towards our dreams and push ourselves to aim high, it’s important to remember to prioritize our physical, mental, and emotional well-being above all. Doing so not only keeps us well and healthy, but also lets us keep going in our journey towards success. Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below.


Salmons, Ilona. “The 7 Habits of Highly Burned-out People.” Los Angeles Therapist | Ilona Salmons ED.D., LMFT, www.ilonasalmons.com/single-post/2015/10/07/the-7-habits-of-highly-burnedout-people.

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