High levels of achievement are the highway to productivity and success. The more often you can attain HLA (high levels of achievement), and the longer you can sustain them, the faster you will arrive at the goals you have set for your work and your life.
But you can’t cruise the HLA highway without the proper equipment, which includes your attitudes, your procedures, and your managerial self-control.
Let’s go over some of what you need to stay on the HLA highway:
An Explicit Road Map
The highway metaphor works really well here, because when traveling you need a roadmap to find a highway system and then use it to arrive at your destination.
In the same way, to become a consistent HLA-er, you need a clear sense of what you’d like to achieve and some viable pathways to get there. Whatever goal you’re aiming for, an explicit description of the exact results you’d like to achieve greatly facilitates your efforts to identify and sequence the series of steps you must take and the milestones you must pass in order to reach it.
When you also know why you want to reach that goal, you’ll experience a boost in your motivational level. Any good reason is helpful. However, when you can closely tie your personal values and preferences to your work and life objectives, you’re likely to drill into deeper drives and longer-lasting sources of enthusiasm.
However deep and long-lasting your motivation, it’s going to fade. That’s just the truth. Even if you’ve chosen a goal you believe in, your motivational level will fade and then rebound in a cyclical fashion. But those periods of reduced motivation are very often difficult, disappointing, and a drug on your level of productivity.
That’s why it’s useful to keep your activities and interim milestones as interesting and challenging as possible. Repetitive, boring activities can sap anyone’s desire to achieve at a high level. But most HLA-ers instinctively relish interesting and challenging activities, and look forward to encountering more of them.
At a minimum, you can kick up the level of interest and challenge by putting a time limit on each task. You can also set the bar higher by trying to make fewer than average mistakes, by setting stricter performance standards, by changing the sequence of tasks, or by otherwise striving to improve at the work.
You can also treat tasks and projects as learning experiences to help expand and strengthen your skills, knowledge, and abilities. Doing things in new ways or with new tools or to new standards can make even routine tasks more interesting.
Whatever you can do to freshen your work and life activities will help set the stage for you to perform at a higher level.
An exciting way to get rolling on the HLA highway is to look for opportunities for earning rewards and satisfaction in less time. This is not to say you should avoid long-term projects or stop striving for goals that require months or years of effort.
But it’s motivational and satisfying to collect the low-hanging fruit, as well.
For example, as you work toward a Ph.D. or M.B.A, you can pursue internships or volunteer opportunities where you can make an immediate, positive difference. When you launch an entrepreneurial effort, you can ship an early version of your product to register some quick sales, or offer your newly-developed back-end capabilities to other entrepreneurs as a way to prove your system under real-world conditions.
The Buddy System
Another way to spend more time on the HLA highway is to travel with a buddy. This can be a coworker with whom you actually share some responsibilities and authority, or it can be a colleague, friend, or even a “friendly rival” whose work is somewhat comparable to yours.
You and your buddy can agree to challenge each other to achieve at higher levels. You can then openly compare and compete on any criteria you wish, as a way of helping and incentivizing each other to get better.
People who consistently achieve at high levels over long periods of time are inherently more valuable to themselves and others. But becoming and remaining a high-level achiever is difficult without one or more sources of motivation and support like those I’ve offered in this discussion.
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