The one psychological advantage high achievers have over everyone else

Just like most people out there, I have often struggled to build lasting positive changes in my life. I always start with a lot of commitment, but when the daily grind takes its toll, the initial excitement tends to fizzle away and I’m always back at square 1. 

It often made me wonder if people, who were able to make amazing changes to their lives consistently, often did so by sheer will power? I decided to do some research and what I found blew me away. Here’s what I found;

There’s only one real advantage that super-productive high achievers have over literally everybody else. They truly understand their psychology.

Do it in a way that feels right for you.

The answer is not more will power, starting fast, or slow, or big, or small. It is the understanding that humans are as different as can be and that you cannot put everyone in the same box. One of the key elements to bringing lasting change to your life is to understand what works for you. This means keeping your temperament, your interest, your nature, and values in mind When adopting a new habit. Don’t think that someone will hand you some magical bullet points and you will execute on those and win.

I believe that people are very different. And most often when someone doesn’t succeed or feels discouraged, its because they’re trying to do it in a way that’s not right for them. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them or that they lack willpower or they’re lazy etc. A very obvious example is morning people and night people. If you look at it, all the expert advice says that if it is important to you, you will get up early and do it. 

‘Get up early and write that novel’, ‘get up early and exercise’. But the research also says there are morning people and night people. And there’s a fascinating book called ‘internal time’ that sheds more light on this phenomenon. For some people, it’s genetically determined. They are just a lot more productive, creative, and energetic later in the day. 

So if you feel like I need to get up early and exercise and I’m failing. Maybe it’s because you’re a night person.

Exercise is not the problem here. The problem is that you’re barely getting to work on time in the morning and the idea that you will get up early and exercise is just not realistic for you.

Do you need outer accountability?

Another big piece of the puzzle is accountability. Some people need outer accountability to meet inner expectations. 

So if they want to read more, they need to join a book club. If they want to work out or lose weight, they need to join a class or have a trainer. Once you recognize that you need outer accountability, then there are a million ways to get it. But first, you need to realize that that’s what you need.

On a personal level, I don’t need outer accountability. But if you do, then find a way to have it. Start by realizing that there’s a piece that’s missing. 

When we talk about lasting change, there’s a ton of self-awareness involved and also an understanding that there are different recipes for success for different people. You need to recognize that there are many paths to success and fulfillment. You need to figure out which one works for you and sometimes it might mean some trial and error.

In his telling body of work called Daily Rituals, Mason Currey draws some very interesting conclusions. His book highlights the daily habits of highly productive, creative, and accomplished people. 

His research shows that some people stay up late and some people get up early. Some people drink coffee and some people drink vodka. Some work alone and some work in a busy studio. Some work 17 hours a day and some work 30 minutes a day. And yet these are all extremely productive people. There are scientists, painters, writers, choreographers, and so many others. They don’t have the same habits, but that they have figured out what works for them and made sure they followed through.  

Figure yourself out and guard it.

When you’ve figured out what works for you – and there’s a lot of trial and error involved – then you also need to guard it. 

Allow yourself to try out a new habit for a week or two to see if it works for you. Also when something isn’t working, it’s just information. Instead of thinking there may be something wrong with you, use a different method to get results. 

For example, some people are better off starting small, like making incremental changes. Others want to go big or go home because they feel that incremental changes just don’t gain momentum for them.

Also, what is your work pace? Some people are marathoners, and some people are sprinters. Some people like to start early and work steadily and others like working against a deadline. 

What is your recipe for success?