Personal Development

The Secrets to High Achieving

Written by Nina Grunfeld

It’s easy to feel envious of those who appear effortlessly to achieve not just one thing, but everything – all at the same time. They don’t just have one project on the go, but many. They’re serial accomplishers – and always successful. So, what are their secrets?

High Achievers don’t do clutter

high_achievingYou may have an untidy desk or a bit of chaos in your wardrobe, but that’s not how a High Achiever lives. High Achievers have clear minds, clear thoughts and clear desks, ready to go. They haven’t got ‘Tidy my desktop’ on the top of their ‘to do’ list, they’ve got ‘Meet Mr. A regarding sales program’. What could you do to start getting rid of your clutter? How could you clear your mind to be ready for action? What would you achieve first once you were on the start line?

High Achievers don’t drift

When we think about success and the times we’ve been successful, we’re usually thinking about the goals we’ve set and completed and the things we’ve achieved. These goals can be large or small, it doesn’t matter. The success comes in having set and achieved them and, also importantly, noticing that you’ve achieved them. If you make a plan and follow it through, you are and feel successful. The next time you’ll set a bigger goal. I’ve had participants at Life Clubs workshops who feel lost in life and it’s because they haven’t taken the time to decide what they want to do next.

Knowing what you intend to do is the route of the High Achiever. They know that having a goal is essential, that the focus needed to achieve that goal feels good and that the discipline of achieving a goal boosts confidence. High Achievers aren’t afraid to break their goals down into small steps so they can get them done, and they aren’t afraid to plan well in advance.

High Achievers don’t sit on the couch

Unlike the rest of us, High Achievers don’t waste time procrastinating. It’s easy to get hung up on having to do something perfectly or be overwhelmed by the task in hand, but just get on with it. We may spend hours surfing the net, chatting on the phone, waiting for people and in general distracting ourselves from the task in hand, High Achievers will get on with things – if there’s a reason that they have to do them – or they’ll delegate. They don’t hang about waiting for life to happen, they make it happen. Ever heard a High Achiever say ‘I’ll do it in a minute’ or ‘I’ll do it in five months’ or even ‘I’ll do it in five years’. Stop putting off your life. Do it now.

High Achievers don’t focus on failure

How easy is it to focus on what’s gone wrong? Very. But High Achievers think about what’s going right and build on that. Even when things go ‘wrong’, learn from your mistakes. Like a High Achiever, focus on whether your failure is real or not. Maybe your painting didn’t sell at that gallery, but how many people get the chance to be in an exhibition. Maybe your cake didn’t rise as you wanted it to, but your friends had a great evening. You’re a High Achiever already. Focus on those achievements.

High Achievers also focus on how they’re going to think when they have reached the pinnacle of their career, when they’re feeling really successful. Every time they need to make a decision, they think about how they’d make it if they were already really successful. You’d be surprised at what decisions that High Achieving you will make.

High Achievers don’t slouch about in jogging pants

After I’d had my third child we moved from the rural suburbs into Central London. I was walking down my street one day, pushing my buggy and surrounded by children, when our refuse man came up to me and, with the best intentions, told me to ‘smarten up’. ‘You’re in London now’, he said, ‘You can’t walk around looking that casual’. It was a wake-up call. I’d felt a High Achieving mother, but suddenly realized that the rest of my life was going nowhere.

I started observing how other people looked and began to imitate them. I’d check out what outfits they were wearing and read lots of fashion magazines until I’d found my look. It may sound superficial thinking about dress and physique, but it’s vital. When did you last see a High Achiever with so much as a hair out of place? Our clothes, shoes and indeed our body say a lot about us. What do you think your appearance is saying about you right now?

High Achievers don’t beat themselves up

Working with a High Achiever the other day, he told me his name was James, but he asked everyone to call him ‘Jimmybiz’. He knew he was ‘the business’ and he wanted everyone else to give him the respect he felt he’d earned. High Achievers aren’t modest. They don’t hide their light, they let everyone know how good they are. On a big scale they enter themselves in competitions – just how many awards can I win? And on a small scale they pump themselves up by noticing every compliment they get, every small thing they achieve.

High Achievers don’t read autobiographies

It’s a real ‘No No’ to compare yourself to others. You may think it’s motivational to read Donald Trump’s autobiography to learn from him, but there’s learning and learning. If you’re learning about the characteristics you share with the Trump to boost your confidence, that’s one thing, but if you’re feeling ‘How come he’s successful and I’m not’, put the book down and start focusing on you and everything you’ve achieved. It’s so easy to blame ourselves when we compare and then we start feeling the very debilitating envy.

Another reason not to compare is that your values may be very different from the person you’re comparing yourself to. Someone at Life Clubs said she wanted to be fantastically wealthy and yet two of her main values, equality and charity were opposed to personal wealth. Would being wealthy make her feel successful? I don’t think so.

Instead flip it around. What can you do that they can’t? And, if you don’t know the answer to that, find out. Being a High Achiever is all about knowing your skills and appreciating and using them.

High Achievers don’t burn themselves out

It may look as if High Achievers sometimes forget to breathe as they rush around making things happen, but they relax as ‘hard’ as they work. And that’s what you’ll have to do to sustain a high energy performance. Eat healthily, remember to take days off work, keep super fit and learn to enjoy relaxing as much as you do working. Now you’re achieving!


Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Nina Grunfeld

Nina Grunfeld is the high achiever at, weekly self-development workshops around the UK and Canada. Nina’s passion is to help you to find the life you want and get the most out of it.


    • Hi Eliana, thanks for your great question. I would think some of the pain is an inability to relax and experience down-time. A constant striving where achievements have to be bigger and bigger to ‘count’. A family who are rarely seen… that sort of thing. What would you think?
      Best wishes,

  • Hi Nina,

    You are right – rest and recovery is crucial to achievement. We need to respect our bodies, and give it what it needs.

    Great post!

  • Hi Nina,

    You are a high achiever yourself by providing this post. It is such a great list of features that we should pick up from. Have you written about how we can achieve these various states of high achievements yet? I know there are probably tons of literature out there, but you should seriously expound on these concepts and ideas.

    I would like to add that High Achievers have a great company of like minded people as well. This is Law of Attraction stuff. The more we stay with positive people, the more of these positive stuff we will attract.


    • Thanks Jimmy, good to hear from you. In terms of how to achieve these various stages of high achievements, I’m not quite sure what you mean, but we help people with our weekly workshops around the UK and Canada get more of what they want from their lives – whether it’s high achievement or more relaxation. Our website is
      I agree the company you keep is important too, although we can learn from ‘negative’ people as well – even if it’s just how we don’t want to be, but there’s usually a mirror somewhere!

  • A very good article Nina, filled with some great tips on living a more successful life (in personal and professional environments). I especially liked the ‘no couch’ tip!

    That was until I came across ‘Don’t read autobiographies’. Here, I must respectfully disagree. I have read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, as well as Phil Jackson’s (highly successful basketball coach). Both books have served to aid me well – I gained insights such as learning to modify a successful tactic to make it even more successful, as well as installing discipline in your life, piece by piece.

    Some autobiographies aren’t that great, and I can see your point Nina – I wrote a guest post for ProBlogger where I talked about the perils of comparing yourself to others. I just feel that it’s too easy to dismiss ALL autobiographies in the same way.

    Mohatma Gandhi and Cheryl Cole are two different people :-)

    • Hi Stuart,
      You caught me out – yes, I was being a little bit outrageous, but sometimes you just have to be. Even reading Gandhi’s autobiography might feel a little depressing if you start comparing yourself to him though, of course, there’ll be quite a few gems in there.
      But sometimes it’s best just to get out there and do things – you’ll learn soon enough anyway.
      Best wishes,

  • Nice article, Nina. I’m surprised about ‘High Achievers don’t do clutter and don’t slouch about in jogging pants’ because these points may look penny but hey, you’re right, they are just equally important as other tips. All of the values are the recipe of a high achiever. Thanks!

    • Hi Justin,
      Thanks for getting in touch. It is so easy to burn out as when you’re on a roll you don’t want to stop. But burnout ends creativity and that’s what makes the great achievers. Good that you’re focusing on finding balance – and good luck with it.

  • Great points Nina,

    I especially like the last one. High Achievers don’t burn themselves out.

    I come from a WorkLife Balance Blog so I see and write about burnout quite a bit. High achievers don’t allow themselves to burnout because they know how destructive burnout is if you allow yourself to go that far.

    Excellent work,


  • Hi Nina,
    Excellent post thankyou. Have ‘bookmarked’ for further reference & attention.I have the odd hair out of place & wear jogging pants on occasion however I won’t let this get in my way of achieving.
    be good to yourself

  • Great post! I’m a teenager reading this and after I read it I cleaned my room and organised all of my things. It felt so liberating and I feel ready to take on the world tomorrow!
    I disagree with the not reading autobiographies point, maybe because I am still figuring out what I want to do in life and like to read about peoples lives. But I think that spending time reading is extremely beneficial, I read all the time (eg. I read this article!). Autobiographies always inspire me to do more with my life, A Piece Of Cake is a book which profoundly altered my way of life, changing my outlook forever.

    Apart from that, I really enjoyed this article, it was really helpful. I hope you write more on CYT. I liked your no-nonsense attitude, you just said what you needed to say and took no mercy! I now have “High Achievers don’t do clutter” pinned on the notice board (which I de-cluttered) on my wall!

    I also need to focus on not drifting too, maybe you could give tips on that one, its a tough one, especially as a teenager. I get very excited over any projects I start and then half way through one I’ll start a 2nd and neglect the first….

    Sorry this comment is so long! I talk fast and I type fast!
    Have a nice day!

    • Hi Meabh,

      I read your comment when you wrote it, but I’m on UK time and couldn’t reply straight away – however I was delighted and excited and would love to see a picture of your room now. You may enjoy a book I wrote for teenagers called ‘How to Get What You Want’. It’s a fun book.
      Don’t worry too much about drifting. It’s great that you’re aware that that’s what you’re doing, but I think teenage years can be about exploring everything that’s going on everywhere before settling. It may help you to look at your values and start thinking about what’s really important to you as those are the things you probably don’t drift on. Start collecting a list of those as they will be what lead you to a path for your future.
      I wish you good luck and loved the long comment!

  • The final point about not burning out is so important. A good overall balance is necessary no matter how focused one is on any particular project. Too much of anything at the expense of something else, especially health, is not a good thing.

  • Hi Nina

    Welcome to CYT. What a great article to get started with :)

    I agreed with most of your points, however I didn’t really think about reading biographies. I suppose it depends why you read biographies, I find them inspiring, but I have sometimes read a book and thought I wonder what they’re doing that I am not, so it kinda makes sense what you’re saying.

    Thanks again Nina for your article and I know the CYT readers will give you a warm welcome.

    • Thanks Steven, and for inviting me to post.
      I think biographies can help in the way of mirroring ourselves as well. If you think Obama, for example, is a wonderful orator, start thinking about how you’re a wonderful orator. The characteristics we admire in others are those we own ourselves.
      Best wishes,

  • hi Nina, thank you very much for some really great, practical advice. Top of my list are De-clutter and more Focus. To be fair, one is a by-product of the other. My mind and attention tend to flit between projects and I have the cluttered desktop as evidence :) Thanks again, Stephen

  • Hello:

    As soon as I read I need to clear the clutter before I can achieve anything great, I quit reading. Its a theme I have read before and it fills me with despair.
    Thanks for writing. I know you are right but these type of articles never really tell me how to be somene I am not. They don’t tell me how to be different from what I have always been. They don’t explani how to change my very nature.
    Maybe some can and do change their souls but I have had no success at this.

    • Hi Lois,
      Many thanks for your comment and I’m sorry the mention of clutter put you off.
      I don’t think you can be someone you are not or indeed very different from what you have always been. I believe you can change your life and how you live it, but these things take time and effort, no matter what you read.
      I have been most affected by The Enneagram – not sure if you’ve come across it before ( In terms of finding out about myself and what I want to change I found it (and continue to find it) enormously beneficial.
      Good luck,

    • Lois
      I have experienced the same kind of turn-off as you in the past and there’s been one technique that has helped me shift my emotional blocks. It’s EFT. There’s heaps of info on the internet about Emotional Freedom Techniques and, if you really want to shift your thinking/energy on cleaning up the mess, I strongly recommend you try it out. In fact you can use the great words in Nina’s blog to help you. Any blocks you encounter in her words are worth tapping on.
      Hope this helps.

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