9 things high achievers never do in the evening

We all have our own habits. The trouble is, habits have a way of shaping our destiny.

Does that sound too dramatic? The truth is, if you want to achieve great things in life, the way to do it is to focus on what you do every day.

After all, if you want to walk 10,000 miles, you can only do it by taking one step at a time.

Luckily, you can use the example of high achievers to guide you in the habits you should cultivate – and those you should avoid.

That includes how you spend your time in the evening when your day’s work is done.

It’s important to make time to relax. But the way you spend your evenings can be a powerful force in shaping your future.

So here are some things high achievers never do at the end of the day.

1) Spend too much time in front of a screen

The Golden Age of Television has a lot to answer for.

Entertainment has come a long way. Just a few decades ago, most people’s evening activity was sitting in front of the TV and choosing from a handful of channels.

Now, we have multiple streaming services packed with thousands of TV shows and movies. Then there are videogames that can absorb us completely and the ever-present pull of social media on our phones.

No generation in human history has been as surrounded by screens as we are now. And no generation has ever had the amount of entertainment options we have at our fingertips.

That may sound like a good thing, and in some ways, it is. But it’s far too easy to spend hours in front of the screens, preventing us from doing something more productive.

Too much screen time has a number of negative effects, including:

  • Strain on your eyes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Increased risk of obesity due to more sedentary lifestyle
  • Loss of cognitive ability
  • Impaired social skills
  • Lower self-esteem

Plus, passively consuming what other people have created may be fun, but it can prevent you from doing more productive activities such as reading or spending time with your loved ones.

2) Neglect self-care

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for everyone. And while you may think that high achievers are constantly on the go and always working, that’s not the case.

In fact, people who achieve great things often understand that the most important thing is taking care of yourself so that you can harness your skills and energy to go after what you want.

In other words, it’s important to get some relaxation and self-care into your evening. But how you relax has a big effect on how you feel.

Instead of lounging in front of the TV, you can practice more productive self-care by doing something you enjoy that helps you recharge from work in a healthy way.

It may be meditation. It may be some pampering, such as a relaxing bath. It might be reading a good book or taking gentle exercise like an evening stroll.

The important thing is that you spend your time on things that are both healthy and enjoyable. Doing that will help your mental health and keep you from feeling like all you do is work.

3) Dwell on failures

At the end of the day, it’s easy to focus on everything that went wrong.

We all face challenges throughout the day, and in the evening, the mistakes we made and setbacks we suffered have a way of coming back to haunt us.

But people who achieve great things have learned not to dwell on what went wrong.

Yes, it’s important to understand your mistakes and learn from them. But it’s just as important to then let them go.

After all, you can’t change the past. You can change the future. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t obsess over them, and you’ll be ready to do better tomorrow.

4) Overindulge

Some people’s idea of relaxation is a good meal. Other people enjoy a few drinks.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But it can become a problem if you frequently overindulge, whether it’s in a really heavy meal or too much alcohol before bed.

Sleep medicine specialist Brandon Rogers points out that “eating before bed can make it harder to fall asleep, and it can also trigger nighttime heartburn. Not to mention, having a meal when you are tired can lead to overeating—a habit that may eventually cause more health problems down the road.”

And while many people feel that drinking can help them relax, in many ways, the opposite is true. Alcohol dehydrates the body and disrupts sleeping patents, making it harder to get a restful night’s sleep. Plus, it can easily become an addiction.

Instead, it’s better to eat lighter meals, and stop eating for two to three hours before you go to bed. It’s also a good idea to limit your alcohol intake to no more than a single drink or two, and take days off from drinking every week.

5) Stress themselves out

When you’re stressed out, it’s almost impossible to get to sleep. And when you don’t sleep well, you can’t function at your best.

So people who want to achieve great things know to avoid stressful activities in the evening. Instead, your evening time should be about relaxing and decompressing from a day of work.

Stressful activities include arguing with your family, watching scary movies, or reviewing all the problems you have at work.

Basically, anything that stresses you out is best avoided, especially in the evening.

6) Take work to bed

high achievers never do in the evening 1 9 things high achievers never do in the evening

When you’re trying to do great things, it often seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. And when you’re in a rush to meet a deadline or stay on top of a developing situation, it’s tempting to devote every hour you have to getting work done.

But this can actually be counterproductive.

Taking your work to bed blurs the line between your home life and your career. Plus, focusing on work right before bed can make it impossible to shut your brain off and get sleep.

Neurology professor and sleep expert Rachel Salas says, “as sleep specialists, we tend to recommend that the bed should be for the three Ss: sleeping, for sex or for when you’re sick. That’s it.”

Working in bed can train your brain to no longer separate the bedroom as a place for relaxation, making it harder to get the restful sleep you need to be at your best. 

7) Vegetate on the sofa

I already talked about the dangers of too much screen time. But linked to that is the danger of too much time on the couch.

Of course it’s important to relax and get some rest in the evening. But it’s entirely possible to get too much relaxation.

Staying physically active is crucial for both your physical and mental health. That’s why high achievers often focus on getting some exercise in the evening once their working day is done.

Not only does this help improve their physical fitness, but it can also help separate work from home life and reduce stress.

If you want a restful night’s sleep, it’s not a good idea to engage in a heavy workout or strenuous sport. Instead, light exercise such as going for a walk or stretching can help you burn calories and stay in shape without getting your heart rate high enough to make sleep difficult.

8) Neglect personal relationships

For most of us, the evening is when we catch up with our partners, kids, and the most important people in our lives.

And it’s important not to neglect that.

Ultimately, no matter what you achieve in life, nothing is going to be as important as the relationships you have with the people you matter the most to you. Whether it’s family or friends, nurturing your personal relationships is vital if you want to be happy.

So while it’s tempting to slump in front of the TV, the evening is also perfect for spending time with those who matter most.

9) Stay up too late

Your main goal at the end of the day should be to set yourself up for a restful night sleep. That’s how you make sure you can function at your best tomorrow.

Sometimes, you don’t want to go to bed. That’s especially true if you’re not satisfied with how your day went.

And sometimes, not going to bed at a reasonable time can be a kind of rebellion against the rules we all know we have to live by.

Psychologist Kendra Cherry calls this revenge bedtime procrastination. It often happens when people who don’t have much control in their daily life exercise what control they do have by doing things they enjoy at the expense of getting a good night’s sleep.

I’m definitely guilty of this. I’ll often go to bed at a reasonable time, then stay up late watching TV or reading, not wanting to go to sleep even though I’m tired.

But high achievers know that the quality of their sleep has a huge influence on the quality of their life. Getting to bed at a reasonable time can help you get the quality and quantity of sleep you need to be at your best.

How to spend your evenings

The evening is for relaxation. No one is denying that.

But there are many different ways to relax, and some are more healthy and productive than others.

Eliminate these bad habits, and you’ll set yourself up for greater success. Because in many ways, how you spend your evening defines the day you will have tomorrow.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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