Have you ever thought about what has made you more successful than most other people? After obtaining two degrees in college and forging ahead in a successful marketing career for a payment solutions company, I’ve looked back to my high school days, realizing that I developed my current success many years ago. At the time, I didn’t realize how these habits would serve me so well through college and into my career.
Here are seven habits that, even if you didn’t cultivate them in high school, will serve you well today:
As a high school student, I remember being extremely busy. At the time, it seemed so hectic to stay on top of everything I had going on. Now, I’m used to it. The average student spends approximately 35 hours per week in the classroom, holds down a part-time job, participates in extracurricular activities and socializes with friends. How can high school students find the time to accomplish all of these obligations?
I did it by developing time management skills in high school. It made me more productive then and even helps now with responsibilities in work and life. I used a daily planner and found time tracking to be key. Once you see the breakdown of where your time is spent, you can plan accordingly.
When I was considering what college to attend, I weighed the pros and cons of each school and considered alternative universities as backup options. I also learned to be proactive about assignments by immediately asking if I wasn’t sure about something. That became even more valuable later in college and my first few jobs because it saved me time and impressed others that I was willing to take the lead.
I was never the kid in school who “winged it.” I had to be prepared by having all my reading, assignments and studying done prior to class. While I could not prepare for everything that came along, this helped me.
When you go in for a job interview, prepare yourself. Dress to impress, bring your resume and plan responses for interview questions. For company meetings and presentations, I still spend a lot of time in advance doing my research.
Setting Attainable Goals
No matter what stage you are currently in life, setting goals is an important component of success. However, you shouldn’t just establish a broad set of unrealistic goals. Goals need to be attainable and measurable in incremental steps. Start by making S.M.A.R.T (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals.
Although I was not aware of this process while I was in high school, I did learn to set goals by making lists of the things I wanted to do during the school day and on summer breaks. I could then cross these goals off my list as I achieved them and add new ones. I typically divided my goals up into the four quarters. I used a fifth list to organize my time off from school to do fun things, find a part-time job and learn new skills.
Learning How to Become a Team Player
Regardless of whether you prefer to be alone or work more efficiently by yourself, there will be times when you have to work with others to complete a goal. I had many team projects, plus I was in school clubs.
When working with others, I learned that the most important thing you can do are make sure that you’re organized, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone, reflect on your actions, realize that you don’t know everything and learn how to put others before yourself. Now that I’m on work teams, I’m still practicing those things and finding it helps facilitate our team’s productivity and deepens our collaboration.
Using Positive Resources
When I had a question in biology class, I would either ask my teacher or the smartest kid in class. I had teachers who also became incredible mentors, guiding me toward college and my current career path. When filling out college applications, I sought advice from a parent or guidance counselor.
While I tried many times in high school to do it all on my own, I quickly learned that it was actually OK that I couldn’t. In business, I look to others as positive resources. This includes everyone from my brother, who is an entrepreneur, to people I’ve met throughout my time in Silicon Valley. It’s OK to ask for help so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or take extra time to get something done.
In high school, I didn’t want to be that person who waited until the last minute or came into class with the excuse that “my dog ate my homework.” I knew it was no way to get the grades I wanted. Instead, I had to stick to the deadlines that were given.
I personally recommend you set small goals for yourself. Smaller goals are easier to accomplish and they train our brains. Some people have found that if they set a deadline earlier than they actually want the project completed, the projects seem to go smoother. Most people miscalculate how much time an assignment takes.
These habits apply to any part of life where you want to generate success.