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20 Habits of High Achievers

High achievers seem to always get so much done in so little time. How do they do it?

For Steve Jobs, it was meticulous attention to detail. For Madonna, it's a diet of macrobiotics and sea vegetables. Pelé's passion for football saw him fashioning balls out of socks and newspaper as a child. Oprah Winfrey meditates daily.


Launching the smartphone revolution, maintaining a dancer’s body into your mid-sixties, winning two world cups, or becoming a famous television icon despite impoverished beginnings ー such successes and sparks of genius are hard to replicate.


And yet, from organizing tips to investing in the right tools, there are certain habits adopted by the highest achievers among us that we can learn from to advance our industrial careers and our personal lives.


High Achievers Are Highly Organized



1. Before you start your day, have clear objectives in mind. Prioritize. What does success look like today? Try to start your day with whatever is most important, most goal-orientated, and will deliver results. Don’t conflate making real progress with simply being busy.


2. List all the tasks ahead of you ー separate the important from the urgent, and don’t lose sight of what will add the most to your life, whether that’s professional or personal. Put some tasks into your calendar: it gets them out of your headspace and ensures you dedicate time to completing them.


3. Don’t allow your inbox to take over your life: deal with the most critical and the quickest-to-return emails first; never read an email more than once; aggregate relevant industry content into daily or weekly emails so that you stay plugged in but don’t have reams of content to get through.


4. Say no! Decline anything that doesn’t serve your goals or is misaligned with your values.


5. Write down your ideas. Having a system for taking notes, perhaps a diary or an app, will help you to hold on to inspiration, even on the busiest of days.


Overachievers Highly Value Relationships


6. Clarity in communication is key. Those whom you work with should be in no doubt about what you expect from them. Put it in writing. This will also help to foster a culture of collaboration and accountability ー but never blame.


7. Listen to your colleagues, and remember what they say. Success is rarely a solo endeavor, and teamwork thrives on strong personal connections: Your team needs to feel heard, respected, and valued. This is particularly vital to consider for teams that work remotely.


8. Accept constructive criticism gracefully and learn from it. Mistakes are always forgivable if you use them to adapt and evolve.


9. Do what’s right by your peers. Leaders should carve out time when they can support their colleagues to learn and develop, and this time shouldn’t be at the mercy of deadlines or last-minute meetings.


10. Practice active leadership. If you accept that interpersonal connections are at the heart of success, you’ll understand the need to nurture your relationships. Who do you need to influence? Who is important to you? Make time to make sure they know it.


High Achievers Invest in Effective Tools


11. What gets in the way of your productivity? Whether it’s a standing desk, a better router, or a virtual assistant, invest in the tools or services that will take more of the stress and the drudgery out of your life.


12. Take opportunities to multitask. Some activities require the whole of your focus, but others ー commuting to work or working out at the gym ー are prime time, for example, to expand your mind with podcasts or audiobooks.


High Achievers Value Themselves


13. Begin every morning by checking in with yourself. How do you feel ー physically, mentally, and spiritually? What do your mind and body need from you today? Sometimes the best time to find solutions to tricky issues is first thing in the morning, after a good night’s sleep.


14. From caffeine to rigid to-do lists and the alarm snooze button, try to free yourself from potentially damaging habits, cravings, and dependencies. Empower yourself to act without the need for an external force to make it happen.


15. Always aim to maintain perspective: view failure as a temporary setback or learning opportunity; resist the impulse to react quickly to a stressful situation and instead wait until you are in control of your emotions; enjoy what you do and focus on the positives. Optimism is a powerful resource.


16. Find your own form of meditation. Research into the world’s most successful people, conducted by entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, found that 80% undertook some version of mindful practice ー including breathing techniques, words of affirmation, or cold water therapy.


High Achievers Are Self Aware


17. The better you understand your own mind and working practices, the better you’ll be able to implement strategies and habits to optimize productivity. If, for instance, you are guilty of perfectionism, commit yourself to delivering 75% of a project to stakeholders by a certain date. If you procrastinate in the afternoons, introduce a hard deadline for logging off for the day.


18. The most successful people are internally motivated. They don’t compare themselves to others, instead, they are driven by a personal sense of purpose. Hold on to that.


19. Track your progress over time. Habits can take a very long time to build, and success is usually made up of small incremental changes ー always keep the bigger picture in mind, especially on more difficult days.


20. Take risks. Set goals that you aren’t quite sure how to achieve, goals that push you outside your comfort zone ー and adapt to whatever is thrown your way. Leaders who can push past the pressure and find new solutions and approaches to a problem are the most efficient and highly sought after.

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