Dear Overachiever

Do more, we’re told. You’ll be happier when you do more. This is because when you achieve more, you’ll be more. ‘More of what?’ you say. ‘More worthy,’ they say.

People who achieve lots are admired by society. People who do little, well, we forget about them, mostly.

We equate doing more with being more worthy. Do well at school so you can be more. Do well at your job so you can be more. Achieve mastery and you’ll be more. Help lots of people and you can be even more. Of course, you can also make more money so you can buy more things and then you’ll be really more — more worthy than everyone else.

But there’s something deeply wrong with this kind of more because how much more is enough? How much more must you do to be more enough to be enough. How much money makes you enough? How much achievement makes you enough? How much of helping others and the world makes you enough? Is enough even possible? Not with the kind of ‘do more to be more worthy’ we’ve grown accustomed to. That kind of kind of more is a social construct with a reliably moving goal post.

Want to know a secret that will set you free from this trap of more? It’s simple. Recognise that you are already more than more could ever be. You are the universe manifesting itself. Think about it. All your atoms — and the rest of the universe — came from a single point of infinite density 13.8 billion years ago. This singularity turned into an explosion of atoms, some of which organised into complex, sentient, thinking, feeling beings. That alone makes your life — and all lives for that matter — both infinitesimally rare and infinitely worthy. You are already more than any more can ever be.

But maybe you still think doing more makes you more worthy and that when you achieve no more you are worth — less. Well how about this: think about your best friend (or partner or kids). Do you love them more when they achieve more success? And when they do less do you love them no more? In the best relationships none of this matters. The person is infinitely worthy regardless of their achievements. Now if you can have that kind relationship with others why not have it with yourself too?

If you were your best friend you’d be worthy whether you did more or less. Of course you’d want your best friend to be happy, and some of that comes with doing more to be enough materially. But doing more to be more worthy doesn’t get you to happiness. Recognising you are already enough is what gets you there.

So do less, I say. Try it, even if for a short while, and see how it feels. The worse it feels the more trapped you are in doing more — in which case reading this couldn’t have come at a better time.


This was a note I drafted to myself in 3 bullet points initially. Then I played with it some more by turning it into stylistic prose without the confines of formality or tightness of argument. Doing this more freely meant the first draft came out effortlessly, with the second and final drafts needing just a few minor tweaks.

The note is inspired by themes I’ve long thought about on the need for overachievement, and the works of Michael Singer (see “The Premise” chapter in the book “ The Surrender Experiment”) and David Burns (see “Your work is not your worth” chapter in the book “ Feeling Good “).

Originally published at on October 25, 2020.



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