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New year, new goals: some of them lofty, some a little more approachable. Whenever the slate is wiped clean with the promise of a fresh start, most people start thinking of ways they can recalibrate, reset, and change their approach to be more successful in the coming months than the year that just passed.
It can be tremendously healthy to look at the habits of the most successful people in the world when it comes down to modeling our own daily habits. A through-line starts to emerge: What are some of the commonalities that top-performers all share, and what tangible ways can those traits apply to how we live?
The answer might surprise you: invest in yourself by building intellectual capital. How? Simplicity and mindfulness seem to be a common thread, where some of the busiest, wealthiest people in the world take the time to press pause on urgent matters and invest in activities that have a long-term (rather than immediate) payoff. The notion is called compound time: These small, daily investments to grow oneself and encourage a healthy mental state over an extended period ends up yielding a greater return than focusing on completing a seemingly important business matter at the moment.
Here’s a famous example of compound time: Warren Buffet, a trailblazer and iconic entrepreneur, has (according to his own estimate) spent 80% of his time just reading and thinking. Despite manning the operations of companies with hundreds of thousands of employees, he’s a huge proponent of the ability to think critically — especially in a continually evolving, mostly digital economy. Others include AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who asks that his executives spend 10% of their day (four hours per week) immersed in thought, and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, who schedules two hours of uninterrupted thinking every day. Bill Gates famously takes a full week off, twice a year, to reflect deeply without interruption.