A high achiever is someone who is considered successful in their work, usually as a result of their efforts. If you are a high achiever who is naturally driven and striving to learn and grow, you don’t need to be told to work harder, as this comes naturally to you. You likely had some success in areas and seasons of your life. Perhaps you have even experienced times of major success.

It’s a good thing to be a high achiever. To achieve means you have defined something important to you, set a plan, and then accomplished it. However, there will be some pitfalls hidden along the journey. We must be careful and try our best to proactively avoid them.

Achievers Can Get Caught in the “Doing More”

High achievers are driven and want to accomplish as much as possible. Therefore, they find it easy to get caught up in doing more and more. However, if we aren’t careful, we will miss out on the things that truly matter most to us.

I love to help, to bring value, and to always say “yes.” There really are so many good things to be a part of. However, this can be problematic. I experienced this personally as my business grew. I got to a place where I loaded my plate so high, that it was in danger of toppling over and taking me down with it. As high achievers, sometimes we can develop an ego around thinking we can “do it all,” when this simply isn’t sustainable.

I learned that saying “yes” to everything was not the path to true success. In fact, if I wasn’t careful, it could become my undoing. I realized that everything you say “yes” to means saying “no” to something else. Think about that, this is so important I need to say it again:

Everything you say “yes” to means saying “no” to something else.

What a tragedy it would be to get so caught up in saying “yes” to everything that comes along, that without knowing it you take away precious time from your most important priorities. Yet this happens so easily.

Learn to Say No

When we think of the most successful leaders in the world, we usually think about all the famous things they’ve accomplished. What we don’t think of, are all of the things they had to say no to in order to accomplish these things.

I have adopted this discipline in my own life, making a point to eliminate unnecessary tasks, and narrow down my “to do” list to my top priorities.

If you are like me and find yourself having a hard time saying no, listen up. To have the successful life you desire, you must be disciplined to say “no” more than you say “yes.”

Consider your top priorities, write them down, and be sure to review them often. They should clear and at the forefront of your mind. Going forward, you should evaluate each and every “yes” or “no” against these priorities.

Your time and resources are limited, you will find yourself faced with these decisions daily. You will find that you will have to say no to most things, in order to say yes to the things that matter most.

Originally published on Quora.


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.