2016 is going to be your year. It’s going to be the year you finally achieve those big, hairy, audacious goals you’ve been thinking about for many years. It’s going to be your breakout year.

You believe in yourself.

Of course, there’s a massive difference between believing and achieving.

If all you do is believe in yourself, you’ll end up with a lot of self-esteem and very little accomplished. So, how do you make the leap from big believer to big achiever?

You practice these 5 habits — Every. Single. Day.

1. Find And Focus On Your Peak Performance Times

It’s tempting to think that all hours are equally valuable. This is patently false. Depending on your body makeup and energy levels, some hours are far more productive than others. Some people find themselves most productive before dawn. Others find themselves cranking through mountains of tasks in the quiet hours after the kids go to sleep.

It’s not better to be a morning person or night owl. What matters is determining when you’re most productive and then working on your most important tasks during that time window.

As Daniel Threlfall says:

“Productivity is more than the sum of your time management techniques. Productivity requires that you discover the blend of your resources — time and energy — that allows you to reach maximum productivity. In order to successfully manage time, you must also competently manage energy.”

And so the question arises: are you focusing on your most important work during your most productive times, or are you wasting time with Facebook or fantasy sports? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with skimming social media or watching stupid cat videos on YouTube. But, if you want to be a high achiever, you’ll spend your peak hours on your most important tasks.

2. Be Ruthless About Distractions

It’s no secret that multitasking kills productivity. There is no way to make significant progress when you’re getting blasted by text messages, Facebook messages, emails, and Skype chats. Your brain can’t constantly change gears. Every distraction means less achievement.

High achievers are absolutely ruthless about eliminating all distractions from their lives. They put their phones on mute or turn them off all together. They block social media. They completely shut down their email, or even set up an auto-response to tell people that they won’t be getting back to them immediately.

Distractions can be appealing. They are a break for the brain. But few things kill achievement faster than distractions.

Will you be ruthless about eliminating distractions this year? Will you do whatever it takes to kill those things that keep you from achieving your goals?

3. Crush Your Most Important Things First

When you sit down to work, it’s tempting to start on easy things — emails, quick phone calls, or social media replies. Getting a few of these things done may give you a sense of momentum. It feels good to get some things checked off your list.

But what sets high achievers apart from the rest is that they always do the most important things first. Productivity expert James Clear says:

“If you do the most important thing first each day, then you’ll always get something important done. I don’t know about you, but this is a big deal for me. There are many days when I waste hours crossing off the 4th, 5th, or 6th most important tasks on my to-do list and never get around to doing the most important thing.”

You have to ask yourself: Do I want to get more done or get the right things done? You can technically get more done by doing easier tasks first, but that’s a losing game in the long run.

In 2016, will you focus on getting the most important things done first? Will you always ensure you’re making progress on your most important tasks rather than focusing on your easiest tasks?

4. Become A List Master

The highest achievers always know exactly what they should be doing next, and they know this by maintaining detailed lists of all their tasks. They don’t float aimlessly from task to random task. They don’t do whatever they feel like at the moment. They keep a laser focus on their task list.

The power of lists is that they keep you on track. Without keeping a proper series of task lists, it’s easy to do whatever you feel like. But with the power of lists, you can attack your day instead of having your day attack you.

As productivity expert Paula Rizzo says:

“When you’re juggling a lot of tasks, things will fall through the cracks, and lists are amazing for keeping yourself on target and getting things done.”

If you need to track lists, apps like Omnifocus, Things, and ToDoIst are great options.

5. Be S.M.A.R.T. About Your Goals

Setting goals is good, but you should be very specific about how you set your goals. Most goal-setting experts recommend using the “S.M.A.R.T.” method. Goals should be:

S – Specific. Wanting to do more exercise is a good goal. But there’s a much better chance of you achieving your goal if it’s more specific, like: Run 200 miles in 3 months.

M – Measurable. You can’t track your progress if your goal isn’t measurable. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” say, “I want to lose 15.5 pounds.”

A – Attainable. Every goal you set should stretch you, but every goal should also be attainable. If you never exercise, you won’t be able to run a marathon within 2 weeks, but you could run 5 miles.

R – Realistic. This is closely tied to attainable goals. All goals should be realistic given your circumstances. They should take your limitations into account, while still stretching you to new heights.

T – Timely. Every goal should have a start and end date. If you don’t know when you want to achieve something, you’ll never know if you’ve actually met your goal.


2016 really can be your year if you’re willing to follow these 5 habits. They won’t necessarily be easy, but the results will be incredibly satisfying. Being a high achiever isn’t just for the elite. Anyone can be a high achiever if they’re willing to do the work!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via static.pexels.com

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