People who are highly intelligent but lack the discipline to succeed usually display these 5 behaviors

Being clever is a godsend.

It makes you realize how much you still have to learn, so you’re more likely to adopt a growth mindset, which tremendously benefits you in the long run.

Unfortunately, it’s not always enough to achieve success.

People with impressive IQs still need to work hard, take risks, and overcome challenges to craft a life they’re proud of.

Sometimes, other traits and habits can hold them back from cultivating their abilities and achieving their wildest dreams.

People who are highly intelligent but lack the discipline to succeed usually display these 5 behaviors.

It’s never too late to course correct.

1) They fail to set goals

Without clear goals, highly intelligent individuals may struggle to channel their potential effectively.

When you don’t have a roadmap, all that brainpower gets wasted.

It’s like having a bunch of random puzzle pieces but no picture on the box to guide you.

You end up floundering, wasting time, and feeling lost.

I’ve wanted to become a journalist since I was a kid, and I got a job as a reporter straight out of college.

A couple of years into the gig, however, I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term.

Cue disappointment and panic.

All of a sudden, I had no idea what I wanted to do next and no goals to chase.

I wasted a couple of years stuck in a job that no longer fulfilled me, struggling to decipher where to go from there.

Eventually, I pursued a career as a freelance content writer.

And while I’m happy with where it got me, I can’t help but wonder how my professional journey would have unfolded if I embarked on it sooner.

Sit down and decide what you want to do with your one wild and precious life.

If you can’t come up with anything just yet, keep at it.

Think back on what you liked to do as a kid, journal, talk things through with a career consultant or a therapist.

Oh, and find a high-paying job to tide you over in the meantime.

The cost of living is getting out of hand.  

2) They procrastinate

Let’s say you know what you want to do.

You even have a plan to achieve your goals. You know each and every step you need to take to become successful.

But instead of following this blueprint, you find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle of procrastination.

Maybe you’re used to relying on your intellectual capabilities to complete assignments at the last minute?

Trouble is, you never know how much time you have. I don’t want to sound morbid, but we don’t have forever and a day to pursue our objectives.

Additionally, getting started is usually the hardest part.

People procrastinate for various reasons. For example:

  • Fear of failure (you can be the smartest person on the planet and still feel like you’re not good enough to succeed)
  • Overwhelming goals (a downside of being highly intelligent is that you know how much you don’t know, which can feel paralyzing)
  • Too many goals (you have so many things you want to do that you have no idea where to start, so you delay taking action)
  • Lack of motivation (if the task lacks meaning or relevance, you struggle to complete it)

The key to overcoming your procrastination tendencies is to get to the root of the problem and fix it.

If you’re afraid you’ll fail, reflect on all you’ve achieved so far.

If the goal is too overwhelming, break it down into smaller chunks.

If you have too many goals, prioritize.

And if you lack motivation?

You probably need better goals in the first place.

3) They succumb to perfectionism

Striving for perfection leads to excessive self-criticism, which can prevent you from taking a swing.

As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve always found it difficult to approach tasks with anything less than full commitment.

It’s not enough for me to write a book; it has to be the best book possible.

It’s not worth dating someone I’m not obsessed with, even if he has good qualities.

Needless to say, this way of thinking used to hold me back.

You can’t write a good book if you’re unwilling to face a disappointing first draft.

And you can’t assess whether someone is great for you or not unless you get to know them.

Perfectionists frequently tie their self-worth to achieving flawless results.

When faced with inevitable imperfections, they experience feelings of inadequacy, which can be enough to stop them in their tracks.

Rather than pushing forward, they abandon the goal entirely.

Or, they get so preoccupied with fixing minor errors that they forget about the big picture.

Instead of forging ahead on their road to success, they take a needless detour.  

Something to think about.

4) They don’t manage their time well

People who are highly intelligent but lack the discipline to succeed often have no idea how to manage their time effectively.

In some instances, they rely on their smarts too much and underestimate the time needed to complete tasks.

In others, they fail to prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency, which leads them to focus on the wrong things.

Thankfully, you can learn to manage your time better so you don’t constantly find yourself behind. 

A few tips to get you started:

  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize tasks into quadrants (urgent/important, not urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/not important)
  • Use time blocking to avoid distractions
  • Establish (realistic) deadlines for projects, both personal and professional
  • Decline additional commitments when your plate is full
  • Don’t ignore self-care, as it may lead to burnout
  • Delegate tasks when possible
  • Regularly assess and readjust your time management strategies

More importantly, structure your days in a way that enables you to get to everything in a timely and efficient manner.

Which brings me to my final point.

5) They refuse to embrace routine

I love routine. It keeps me sane and gives me a small sense of control over the chaos of being alive.

I drink the same smoothie for breakfast every morning.

Then, I do the same few things that tell my brain it’s time to get out of its sleepy slumber and ready to enter productive mode.

Make my bed. Journal. Do my skincare. Pick an outfit.

Yet, I know that not everyone is like me.

If you’re highly intelligent, in fact, you may resist structure.

The allure of intellectual pursuits may make you avoid mundane responsibilities.

But motivation only takes you so far.

Without a well-defined routine, you struggle to allocate time appropriately to different aspects of your life.

Before you know it, you’ve read two novels in one day but failed to feed yourself or check in with your co-workers.

When I first started freelancing, I reveled in the freedom of not having to go into the office.

I’ve wasted mornings scrolling aimlessly on social media and worked odd hours, pushing myself to meet the (very realistic) deadlines I’ve set for myself.

Eventually, I realized I needed some sort of schedule if I wanted to have a clear separation between work and play.

Routine doesn’t have to be boring – and you can spice things up every now and then.

But knowing that you’ll be focusing on one single thing during a certain amount of time makes you less likely to dilly-dally.

Plus, many highly intelligent people have difficulty following through on their goals because they get impatient.

While they initiate projects with enthusiasm, focusing on the small things that need to get done but don’t stimulate them makes them abandon a pursuit halfway through.

Routine can prevent that from happening.

It teaches you to embrace the process, not just the result.

Bottom line

I hate to break it to you, but addressing these 5 behaviors is crucial if you hope to fulfill your potential.

The good news?

You’ve already got the brains.

You can build the discipline.

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