Well this is one complicated question, but I will attempt to sum it up as best as I can. Overachieving is made up of habits, personality traits, mental health symptoms, our history, and social networks -- which makes for a complicated way through this issue.
When there are positives and negatives to a behavior, it is more complicated to move through it. Especially when we can convince ourselves that our style of achieving is not responsible for contributing to our mental health issues (Denial).
1. Identifying the Consequences of our Behaviors
This is just the first step. In therapy models, of which DBT is my favorite, it is identifying your willingness for change. Because it feels so good to achieve, it is important to continuously remind yourself of why you are working on this issue.
2. Identifying the Emotional Mind of Overachieving
This is another DBT skill that I love. When most of us think of the emotional mind we think of emotions like sadness or anger, but an overachieving emotional mind is focused on achieving, anxiety around the outcome of the goal, obsessions with the goal, and a depressed mood and anxiety occur when the outcome is not met.
3. Addressing Underlying Depression and Anxiety
This seems to be common in overachievers as they may have an underlying mental health issue that is contributing to their overachieving. Think of it like a genius's way to manage his/her symptoms, but it also creates more of them. So it becomes a vicious cycle.
This can be addressed in therapy (skills-building), supplements, and with psychotropic medications.
4. Resolving Trauma History
In some cases a trauma history is triggering and driving this behavior. So the drive is even more intense when trauma is a part of the puzzle. In these cases, trauma must be addressed in order to lessen the emotional response of the overachiever. I love IMTT and EMDR to resolve trauma to lessen your emotional mind's drive and intensity. I always say it's pretty magical how this works. I don't call things magical, so know if I say it here, it has to have great outcomes.
5. Developing New Habits
Balancing all emotional urges with wise-minded choices is healthy for all people. In the overachiever, these habits consist of a practice of using your wise mind (inner wisdom) to guide habits and make sure you balance your achieving life with laughter, self-compassion, and relaxation.
6. Engaging in Fun, Relaxation, & Laughter With Others
Relationships of overachievers are often focused around achievements. So spending time in relationships doing things that are not goal driven and are not part of perfectionistic reassurance seeking creates a mental break that you need. Fun, relaxation, and laughter have a powerful affect on our mental health and on finding other more meaningful ways to connect. This type of behavior can be done daily as a new habit, through changing clothes when we end our work day, and using mindfulness to fully engage in the fun, laughter, and relaxation.
7. Problem Solving
Sometimes we need to problem solve an issue to be able to let it go and be present in the fun, laughter, and relaxation at the end of the day. But this needs to be done before you transition to your home (fun relaxation) environment.
Therapy makes change so much easier because two heads are better than one and support is essential. Support helps us gain clarity, develop a plan, and move through any barriers.