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It goes without saying that some employees—and some leaders—are more productive than others. The age-old question is, what separates the high achievers from those who are middling and average?

A recent article from Fast Company has an interesting answer. According to the article, the high-achieving leader is distinguished by a single weekly ritual.

Weekly Re-Alignment

“They keep a sacred, non-negotiable meeting with themselves every week to re-sync, get current, and align their daily work and projects with their priorities,” explains David Maxfield, in the article. Maxfield leads research for VitalSmarts, and bases his comments on a study of some 1,594 high-performing managers and leaders.

Note that the average person begins with something like a to-do list, creating a list of things that need to happen and working up from there. What Maxfield is suggesting is something rather different—taking a top-down approach where overarching goals and objectives are used to bring the little, daily stuff into perspective.

As Maxfield explains, it’s all about determining what kind of person you want to be, and how you want your career to go, then working backwards from there.

Starting a Routine

The best time to conduct this ritual, Maxfield explains, is on Sunday evening, before all the noise and clamor of the new work week sets in. Find some quiet, private time to think about the big picture.

And what exactly should you be thinking about during this Sunday evening ritual? There are three basic areas of focus.

  1. Consult your gut, simply ensuring that your life and career are aligned with your personal and professional goals. Check with the items on your calendar and ask whether these items are really in alignment with your goals. Review your achievements over the past week, and be honest about whether they really reflect who you want to be—or whether it’s time to make some changes.
  2. Get organized for the coming week, capturing and filing loose documents, getting close to inbox zero, writing down any stray ideas or to-do items that are floating through your head.
  3. Think through long-term goals—the things you want to do some day—and be creative about what you might do to get closer to those goals.

This is really all about leading a life of purpose—and taking stock of everything in your life to make sure it furthers that purpose. Give it a try; for leaders looking for direction, this ritual may be clarifying and energizing!