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7 Habits of Top Performers

Have you ever heard the saying, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"? Successful individuals know that preparation is the culmination of smart habits designed to elevate their performance. They don't wait around for "luck" to happen ‒ they're proactive about creating their own opportunities through effective time management, smart planning, and a willingness to never stop learning.

Ready to increase your effectiveness this year? These are some habits of top performers that may benefit you, too:

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1. Value your time. High performers are proactive about their time, thoughtfully scheduling their days to match peak performance. If you're most creative in the morning, for example, this could mean blocking one hour every morning for your "Most Important Task" or a critical long-term project, rather than waiting until the last minute and rushing your work. If you're a night owl, this could mean setting aside time every evening to work on your passion project, rather than falling into a routine of TV channel surfing. Consider the rhythm that works best for you and adapt your schedule accordingly.

2. Value others' time. High performers respect others' time and live by the adage "poor planning on my part does not constitute an emergency on yours." They arrive on time for meetings and calls and deliver work as scheduled. If there's going to be a delay, they let others know before they've missed a deadline. If you find yourself struggling with time management, remember this doesn't just impact your performance ‒ it hurts what others think of you, too.

3. Plan in advance. Yes, the best-laid plans may still not work out, but advanced preparation means you're ready to pivot with a moment's notice, minimizing lost time, energy, and money. Before charging ahead on a new project, take a moment to outline your project objective and deliverables. Next, consider the resources you'll need to be successful, such as insight from a subject matter expert or skill guidance. Advanced planning helps identify potential pitfalls and project vulnerabilities so you can minimize the adverse impact of these challenges.

4. Prioritize your health. High performers understand that maintaining good physical and mental health is essential to being effective. They strive to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get a good night's sleep. Sleep plays an important role in mood regulation, decision-making, and memory formation, and losing sleep can reduce motivation and momentum. Focus on building a daily routine that puts your well-being first.

5. Surround yourself with supporters. Optimism is infectious. When you're surrounded by successful people, you can't help but be inspired to work harder and improve your performance. The same goes for people who champion your vision and goals while still offering constructive criticism to help you improve. These individuals believe in you and aren't afraid to be candid about the good and the bad, helping you to perform even better.

6. Stay humble. Effective performers are comfortable not knowing everything and they aren't afraid to ask for advice or feedback. Rather than believing they're the "smartest person in the room," they're open to learning from others' perspectives and experiences. Staying humble doesn't mean you can't take credit for your hard work or accomplishments. It does mean you acknowledge how hard everyone on the team works. Rather than trying to "one-up" a coworker or friend, stay open to learning from them and improving so everyone succeeds.

7. Be curious. This one goes hand-in-hand with staying humble. Effective performers are curious about the world around them. They don't assume they know how everything works, even within their own field. They ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Intellectual curiosity propels growth and helps you step outside your comfort zone, becoming a more effective performer.

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