Follow This Strategy to Achieve Lasting Growth in Your Life and Career
We all know how it feels to want to improve at something, but not know where to start. Even if you have a clear picture of your dream job, or your perfect life, reaching that vision takes disciplined work, rigorous learning and effective short- and long-term goal setting.
Do you love the feeling of going to bed at night knowing you made the most of your time that day, or that you learned something new that will help you tomorrow? Do you feel a boost when you accomplish something that builds toward your most important life or career goals? This is the feeling of building your intellectual capacity.
Intellectual capacity relates to how you think, learn, plan, and execute with discipline. It is the operating system that propels each of us forward, and the mental fuel that helps us reach our goals. If you see a person who is constantly achieving their goals and want to do the same, building your intellectual capacity is how to get there. In short, building intellectual capacity helps you get more of the right things done with less time and energy.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make on our personal growth journey is accepting our intellectual capabilities as fixed. Just as we can increase our physical strength and endurance with regular exercise, we can improve our learning, decision-making, planning and execution through dedicated practice.
To be inspired to build your intellectual capacity, it helps to study world class performers, learning from their mistakes and emulating what they do well. The pursuit of this knowledge and experience-sharing is one of the guiding purposes of my Friday Forward newsletter and new book of the same name, Friday Forward.
- 15 min reading time
- audio version available
Building intellectual capacity—and pursuing the life you want most—centers around acquiring skills and building habits into your life. You have to seek out new information, set clear long-term goals and then create short-term goals that lead toward them, and instill productive habits into your life that will keep you on track and accountable.
Studying the accomplishments, methods and habits of high-achieving people is a great way to do this. Reading the inspirational stories of these top-performers gives you the motivation to raise your game, and the steps you can take to do it.
You can learn how to organize your life by studying President Dwight Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important principle, and use it to dedicate your focus to long-term tasks that are important to you, rather than getting bogged down in urgent busywork that fills your calendar but doesn’t fulfill you.
You can discover the value of a morning routine from Miracle Morning author Hal Elrod, who used his daily regimen to save his life and turn around his career, and now shares this routine with others.
You can draw motivation from entrepreneurs such as Waze founder Uri Levine, who pushed through a decade of professional adversity in building the startup into a world-famous app.
Building intellectual capacity has little to do with our natural abilities and everything to do with our actions and commitments. All the most successful people I’ve learned from are life-long learners, people who proactively set aside time to read, listen to educational podcasts and chat with similarly-motivated people about how they can improve. They don’t worry about things beyond their control and instead focus on building the knowledge and skills they need to excel.
Maintaining this mindset is more difficult today. Too many of us are surrounded by divisive negativity from the daily news and distortion from our social media feeds, which display only the top five percent highlights of everyone’s lives. This gives us a false send of comparison, making us feel as if everything is easy for others and difficult for ourselves. When we don’t dramatically improve in a short amount of time, suffer a setback, or fail to measure up against a glossy social media picture of life, we become discouraged and demotivated.
Don’t. Intellectual capacity is about getting just a little better each day—small gains that compound over time. The key is to engage with stories that inspire you, keep making progress each day, and trusting that consistent improvements help you build toward what you want most.
Friday Forward reinforces this idea and provides inspiration to build these steady improvements into your life, day by day. You’ll learn why the idea of “the overnight success,” is very misleading. You’ll understand how to differentiate between tasks that are important in the long term and urgent in the short term. You’ll be inspired by people who commit to excellence in everything they do and go the extra mile for others. You will walk away with countless ideas about how to make small, but meaningful changes that you can begin today.
There isn’t a shortcut to building intellectual capacity—it takes time and commitment. But if you engage with stories that inspire you, your mindset will shift. Skills and goals that previously felt beyond your reach will become more accessible. You’ll end more days feeling like you’ve gotten everything done, and spend fewer nights worrying about your to-do list.
Each of us can achieve what we want in life, it just takes focus and discipline and a willingness to give up good in the pursuit of great. There is no better time to start than today.
Friday Forward is available in print, E-Book, and audiobook now. Get your copy today or read the key insights on Blinkist.