5 Things High Achievers Should Do For Their Mental Wellbeing (But Usually Don’t Do)
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
I’ve written this article based on my own personal experience as well as my experience of coaching high achievers. Many of the high achievers I’ve coached were sceptical regarding the five tips I describe below but have, upon implementing them in their routines, started leading a more joyful life full of exciting opportunities.
1. Take time to relax
Yes, I know, you probably want to fit more into your day and taking time to relax seems counterproductive… but bear with me for a moment! The single most important piece in your life is that you yourself function well. Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that “most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
There will be tasks that seem more urgent to you than taking time to relax but I ask you to think more long-term. Be aware of prioritising not-so-important but seemingly urgent tasks over the truly important things. Michael Neill, author and coach of high performers even goes so far as to say “the feeling urgency is one of the most reliable indicators that what you actually need to do is slow down and take a break.”
So, how does taking time to relax look like? I would like you to properly take time to relax. I would like you to go “all in” – no half-way relaxing, no relaxing but doing something else on the side, just relaxing. Going for a walk or meditation can be good tools to achieve this. If you have no experience of meditation, look for a guided meditation. Otherwise, you can just put a timer, close your eyes, and let go of any desire to control anything.
2. Enjoy yourself
Building on the theme of 1. (that your highest goal is to function well), we have to admit that any human functions better when they feel good. We are most productive when we feel positively challenged and excited, we connect best with others when we enjoy our life and love ourselves, etc. One simple yet powerful technique I do frequently with my clients is asking them to write a list of things that give them joy. Commonly they write down things like reading, listening to music, dancing, being around friends and family, being in nature, eating good food.
I would like you to create such a list. Take 10 minutes or however long it takes you to write down 10-20 entries. If you like homework, the homework for you is to engage in one or more of these activities each day.
3. Close mental chapters
This point is sometimes mentioned in business literature but with a different twist. Traumas of any severity exist because of stories that haven’t been completed, that still have an open end to it (either in reality or in the mind of the person). Looked at it from another side, I have noticed that I am most productive when I can focus in on one single task and don’t have to think about anything else. I’m sure you can relate to that.
The way to become more productive and to recover from traumas is to close off “mental chapters”. Often, these mental chapters are conversations: Something you still have to tell your parents, an unfinished argument with your partner, an email that you haven’t received a reply to yet, etc.
50% of these you can directly influence by taking the initiative to bring the conversation to an end. The other 50% of conversations are those, in which you are waiting for a reply. Here, I recommend Tim Ferriss’ tip to be specific and assertive to avoid unnecessary back and forth.
4. Sleep a lot
The more active – physically or mentally – you are, the more important it is to have a proper rest. During sleep, memories are consolidated and your ability to concentrate is restored. Furthermore, muscles repair and recover. On the flipside, not resting enough will make you more prone to injury due to negligence (at home, in the traffic, etc.), experience depressive symptoms, difficulty concentrating, and cardiovascular diseases.
How much sleep do you need? The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. The exact amount can vary from person to person though and can increase on exhausting days.
5. Prioritise relationships
High achievers (me included) are often lone wolves and work primarily independently – whether by themselves or in groups. This can be due to various reasons that I won’t explain here. What I want to draw your attention to is that being human is about collaboration. Yes, we might be efficient in working independently but ultimately, the human experience is about being together with others.
I will, again, relate to Stephen Covey here. In the first chapters of the abovementioned book, he explains that we humans develop from being dependent (as a baby and child) to being independent (late teenage years). He then goes on explaining that Independence is not the highest level. Interdependence is. Interdependence requires a person to have known independence but also to have understood that living is about connecting with others and have chosen to relate to other people (knowing that they can go back to be independent whenever necessary).
Please, start recognising this more in your life. Be kind to yourself and other people. Build quality relationships, express yourself vulnerably and ask for help.
If you would like to have more guidance in this process, book a free 2h discovery call with me.