The good news about type-A high achievers is that they're always striving to be better and accomplish more. That's also the bad news about high achievers. If you're always worried about improving yourself and adding to your pile of wins, you're probably not terribly good at stopping to smell the roses and enjoy all your current successes.

Star Wharton professor and author Adam Grant knows this not just through research and observation but because he is, himself, one of these restless strivers.

"I've noticed that I'm pretty terrible at enjoying whatever success I attain," he confesses in the monthly Wondering column he writes for his website. "It hit me last year: after I finished writing Originals, a friend asked me how I was planning to celebrate my second book. It hadn't even occurred to me: I was already mapping out the third one. I had taken it for granted. I'm an author now; that's what we do. We write."

But while continually pushing yourself towards the next, even greater achievement certainly makes for a full and successful life, it doesn't always make for a happy one. How can super driven folks strike a balance between ambition and appreciation of their current situation? In the column Grant suggests a dead simple exercise:

What helped me most was a time machine. No, I don't drive a DeLorean. I started using an amazing time machine called the human brain. We have a remarkable capacity for mental time travel--to imagine the thoughts and feelings of our past selves. I turned the dial back five years. If I had known then that I would write a second book, would I have been happy? No, I would've been delirious.

So get acquainted with your former self. Compare your current accomplishments to your past expectations. And for a few minutes, before you're jolted back to the present, you'll feel contented. Maybe even proud.

But don't expect too much from this quick mental trick. It's the fate of the true striver to always be looking forward to the next, best thing. If you discover how to attain permanent inner peace, Grant concludes, reach out and let him know. "If you figure out what that is, I'm all ears," he jokes.

Do you have a specific ritual or trick you use to calm your restless mind and savor your accomplishments? ​

Published on: Nov 29, 2017