To get ahead of the game, you have to stay ahead of the game. No one can successfully lead coming from behind. Success comes down to grit, starting strong, staying organized and being consistent. To succeed, you must create a healthy balance between your personal life and career life.
Here are some effective strategies for staying ahead, and developing yourself into being the leader, controller and chooser of the trajectory of your success.
1. Start now.
Do all you can to get ahead at the beginning of any new quarter, goal or strategy setting session. If you work extra hard at the beginning you will approach the end of the quarter confident your numbers will be met or exceeded.
Starting strong helps you coast to the finish line with less stress than starting slow and agonizing over whether you will make your numbers or meet your goals.
2. Leisure can wait.
Always put responsibilities first. Stop putting off what needs to get done. Procrastination only robs you of the time you desire for leisure activities. Remember why you chose your career and what's required to stand out amongst the best.
To start strong, conquer your most stressful 20 percent first, and use any leftover, bonus-time to chip away at less important 80 percent. Your leisure time isn’t going anywhere. When you are tempted to put things off, tell yourself you’re unwilling to settle for average.
Related: 11 Ways to Beat Procrastination
3. No one is perfect.
Business is not designed to be clear, easy or perfect. If you have been giving it all you’ve got, whatever mistakes you make are necessary and perfectly fine. Each mistake made at 100 percent effort becomes an invaluable learning experience, designed for your personal growth and evolution. The more mistakes you make, the more you grow, the more you develop your knowledge and expertise.
Everyone messes up. Take it on the chin like a champ, analyze where things went wrong, figure out how to do better, then self-correct.
4. Make time for fun.
There is no greater joy than the hard work that goes into the pursuit of your goals. However, if your life is all work and no play, you will not have the necessary space from your career to actually enjoy it.
You need personal time to gain perspective on the benefits of what you do each day, and to stay connected to the reasons that drive you to achieve. Enjoy the ride. Love what you do, take vacations, be social and give time and attention into those you love. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
5. Career isn’t an end.
Thriving in a great career is not the end of your freedom. Work isn’t where the fun ends, it’s where all of your new, important adventures begin. There is so much ahead of you that will expand your life. Each step along the way opens new doors of opportunity, which enrich your life in immeasurable ways. Adventure, challenge and creativity push you to grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
6. Get involved.
If life is boring, something is wrong. Always seek ways to get involved -- join groups, build networks, go to the gym, or attend church. Network within your own industry by attending as many in-person events/dinners as possible.
Focus on building strong relationships with your peers and senior executives. If you’re interested in further training and experience, request that your company provide the education and leadership training you desire. The more knowledge and experience you seek, the better of a leader you become, and the more you stay ahead of the pack.
7. Say yes.
Each day brings new opportunity. Say yes to new things that take you outside your comfort zone. Say yes to your personal growth by choosing to do the exact things you fear. Train yourself to risk, and to risk again. Convince yourself to push through doors where uncertain results loom on the other side. Relish new experiences that bring you the knowledge and depth to stay ahead of the game.
8. Be realistic.
You are not born with endless supplies of time, effort, confidence or greatness. These things wax and wane all throughout life, and sometimes throughout a day. Business is full of the unexpected. Know and respect healthy limits. You cannot be successful if you consistently feel you’re not measuring up because you don't have enough time or the skills developed to be who you want to be.
You will burnout under this pressure. Learn to succeed one imperfect step at a time. Success, like any other virtue needs some space to blossom.
Related: 9 Things That Will Kill Your Career
9. Personal care.
Personal care is crucial. You must be physically, emotionally and mentally sound to have the energy and brain power necessary to be as successful as you desire to be. For this reason, eat clean, get enough sleep, drink water, exercise and take a day off here and there just to relax. You’re certainly in your career to make money, to get ahead and to make a significant difference in the lives you touch, but you cannot do this at the expense of your own health.