Having a set of effective and winning habits is essential for success and high-performance. Everything that we have done or not done up to this point in our lives is a direct result of our habits. What we consistently do daily ends up shaping the direction of our lives. The one thing that all high-performers have in common is their commitment to winning habits that help them to produce superior results.

Whether we are referring to hall of fame athletes, legendary musicians, exceptional business leaders, or life-changing educators, it all comes down to their winning habits that separates them from everyone else.

I want to highlight three winning habits that are universal when it comes to high-performance. These habits have impacted my life in so many ways and I am confident that they can be of great value for you as well. Here are three winning habits of high-performers.

1. They protect their thinking.

Our mind is one of the greatest assets that we have. How we think, what we think about, and how often we prioritize our thinking not only expands the quality of our lives, but also our level of achievement. It is no secret that world-class athletes often credit their mental training as one of the key reasons for their athletic success. But mental training and the power of our mind doesn’t just relate to athletes. This applies for every industry and occupation.

If you want to elevate your level of performance, it’s imperative you protect your thinking and analyze what you think about most of the time.

In order to bring this mentality into our daily lives, we must train for it. This doesn’t naturally happen, especially when the challenges of life continuously strike. A routine that has been a game-changer in my own life is to spend just twenty minutes a day in solitude. We live in a noisy and distracted world, and if we don’t make time for peace and quiet, our lives will soon become noisy and distracted as well. After I spend a good five minutes in solitude focusing on the present moment, I will briefly dissect any negative thoughts or worries that may be lingering around. For me, most of my anxieties and worries come from events that haven’t even happened yet. I take out my journal and write those worries down. I then go on to ask myself three questions and write the answers for each. Has this event that I am worrying about happened yet? If not, why I am spending precious energy worrying about it? What is one positive action that I can take right now to counteract this negative feeling? After I write the responses to those three questions, I start to feel much better than I did before.

From there, I will finish my time in solitude by reading an empowering book or listening to a positive message to reinforce the type of energy I want to experience for the rest of my day. Regardless of what your process looks like, spend some time playing around with what works for you. The more we can expand the quality of our thoughts, the more we can positively impact our performance and well-being.

2. They have a long-term vision that invigorates them.   

There is one thing I know for sure. We will all experience setbacks and challenges in our lives that will have some of us start to question everything. There have been countless examples of men and women throughout the course of time who have been through heart wrenching tragedies, one after the other, but still went on to do remarkable things with their lives.

We all need a powerful vision of the future that pulls us forward. There is a big difference between pushing yourself and being pulled. Pushing yourself or someone else consists of motivation. That is a temporary feeling of pushing forward even when you may not feel like it. Being pulled forward is completely different. When our vision of the future is clear and compelling, it energizes and serves as a magnetic pull.

To help create this powerful and vivid long-term vision, there are a number of different practices that have worked exceptionally well for me. Some people think I am crazy when I tell them that I already have my eulogy written, but the benefits I have experienced by doing this has been nothing short of extraordinary. Thinking about death from time to time can be incredibly powerful. It reminds us that life is short and prompts us to ask ourselves if we have been living a life well-lived up to this point. It brings unbelievable urgency to what matters most.

Secondly, after I create my goals for the year, I spend some time revising my long-term goals which are ten to twenty years from now. These goals are enormously big, but they play a huge role in helping me stay focused whenever I experience short-term setbacks and remind me to keep moving forward.

3. They are lifelong learners.

Whenever I meet someone achieving excellence in their line of work, I am not drawn to their accomplishments even though they are often times astonishing and will easily leave you speechless. However, the one thing that constantly amazes me is their dedication to become a lifelong learner regardless of past accolades or notoriety. High-performers are hungry for best practices, and they never stop learning. It is no secret why they are where they are, and there is no special framework that will speed up the process of greatness. It requires a lot of hard work, persistence, and an obsessiveness to continually get better.

Becoming a lifelong learner can mean a lot of different things, but most importantly to me, it’s more of a mindset than a specific set of actions. When you have the mindset of a lifelong learner, you are never too good to learn something new, change the way you have done something for the past ten years, or frequently step out of your comfort zone. You also realize that you can learn something new from every single person you meet.

I have incorporated this mindset into my own life in a number of different ways. Each year I always set a goal of how many books I want to read. I am an avid reader, and always try to read a minimum of fifty new books every year. At the end of December each year, I highlight specific dates on my calendar that will be devoted to personal and professional development. This can consist of attending conferences as an attendee, hiring different coaches for multiple areas of my life, and enlisting a group of men and women who I can reach out to on a quarterly basis to work through some challenges I may be experiencing or tweak my strategy.

We all want to experience higher levels of achievement, achieve more audacious goals, and enhance the quality of our lives in some way, shape or form. In order for us to enhance our performance, we first have to become a better version of ourselves. There is no shortcuts. You can’t just dream for it to happen and then not take massive action. It requires a lot of intentional effort and hard work, but it is well worth it. Not because of what we achieve, but because of the man or woman we end up becoming in the process.

One of my favorite sayings is, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” I couldn’t agree more.