Getting to the next level means something different to each of us. For you, it could be launching a startup, landing a big promotion, starting a band, being a better parent, or making a bigger impact in your community. The thing all of us have in common – even the best of the best – is the opportunity to breakthrough to a higher level of performance and achievement.
In life, there are things we can control and things we cannot. We can’t control austerity measures in Greece, the amount of snowfall in Montana, or the speed at which time advances. Before making your push to the next level, it’s important to first understand what you can’t control and stop worrying about it. If I waste a single, futile thought being disappointed I’m not 6’3”, I’m robbing myself of energy and focus that could instead be productive.
If you are committed to reaching your next level of achievement, the following habits should be practiced with rhythmic consistency:
1. Weekly Planning – Most people spend more time planning their summer vacations than they do architecting their lives. Take 20 minutes (ideally Sunday night) to plot out how to make the upcoming week most successful. Refine your calendar, make time to be proactive instead of fire fighting, and make sure you are controlling your schedule instead of it controlling you. We all are limited by 24 hours each day, but you get to decide how to make the most of them.
2. Reflection – It may feel strange at first, but schedule at least 30 minutes of “reflection time” each week. This is time without email, calls, or distraction. It is time to reflect on your goals and progress; to put your efforts in context of your larger vision. Connect with your dreams in vivid Technicolor, and let your mind explore the possibilities. You’ll quickly find this to be one of your most productive weekly activities.
3. Learning – The world is changing faster than any time in history – and its only getting faster. If you are not growing, you’ll soon be falling behind. The most successful people are lifelong learners and are constantly absorbing new ideas. Schedule at least an hour to read, watch lectures, listen to books on tape, or explore new content online. These new insights will magically become just the thing you are looking for to solve problems and unlock potential.
4. Measurement – There’s an old adage, “what gets measured gets improved.” As you strive to conquer your next challenge, break it down into small, measureable chunks. Prioritize the most important activities each week, set clear cut goals, and hold yourself accountable for reaching them by tracking your progress carefully. This works beautifully in nearly every life pursuit.
5. Gratitude – Looking for a cure to anxiety and stress? Each week, take ten minutes and write a “gratitude list.” List the things in your life – big and small – you are thankful for. Set a timer, and see how long you can make the list each week. After this short exercise, you will feel completely energized and ready to perform.
Human achievement is nearly limitless – from invention to art to social change. Practice these habits, and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking your full potential.
Bonus Tip: Enjoy the journey! Being a curmudgeonly grumpy pants won’t get you there any faster.