This piece originally appeared on AllBusiness.com.
Everyone has different skills and talents, but work ethic is one of the few things you can actually control. Ted Arison, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, famously said, “The guy that works the hardest wins.”
While this is a bit of an oversimplification, the takeaway is pretty clear: if you work hard, very few people will keep up the same pace and overtake you.
1. Identify Goals
If you want to avoid being outworked, then you need to set very specific goals; they should be challenging, yet attainable. By setting these goals, you’ll force yourself to work hard and accomplish new things.
“Focus requires clarity concerning the desired results and the relative priority of each step that you need to take to achieve those results,” writes Brian Tracy, sales training and personal success authority. “When you think of focus, think of a photographer adjusting his lens to keep the key subject sharp in the center of the picture.”
In order to become a hard worker, you have to continually adjust your lens to ensure you’re focusing on what’s important. Landscapes may change, but you always have the ability to refocus.
2. Always Ask Questions
There’s a funny misconception among many professionals that asking questions is equated to being weak–in fact, the very opposite is true. Asking questions is a sign that you’re willing to learn and adapt.
If you’re not asking questions, you’re likely doing the same things over and over again. And once you get stuck in this rut, you’ll have a tendency to remain stagnant and become complacent with your current approach.
3. Be Flexible
Think about the hardest working individual you know and you’ll notice they’re very flexible. While they may prefer to work standard hours, they’re completely willing to shift their schedules in order to do what’s necessary to accomplish the task before them.
In your career, being flexible could look like a willingness to work nights and weekends. Or it could look like being willing to take on new job duties to earn the opportunity to get in front of new people. Flexibility is vastly underrated, but wholly important.
4. Surround Yourself With the Right People
Hard workers understand how to walk the line between surrounding themselves with the right people and remaining totally self-reliant. You should aim to surround yourself with people who are equally hardworking–as this keeps you motivated and agile–but you never want to become so close to other people that you start shifting blame.
“Incredibly successful people don’t worry about blame, and they don’t waste time complaining,” writes Preston Waters of Elite Daily. “They make decisions and move on. Extremely successful people take the initiative and accept the responsibilities of success.”
5. Get Some R&R
Interestingly enough, the hardest workers in the world are those who understand the importance of rest and relaxation. If you’re always on the move, you’re going to find it difficult to stay energized and motivated. There’s nothing wrong with taking time off to relax. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.
You should make it a goal to take at least one full day off per week. While it may seem impossible for some people, there’s always a way to make it happen. Work an extra hour here and there, or alter your strategy in some way. Rest is very important in the grand scheme of things.
6. Block Out Excess Noise
Hard workers are adept at hitting the mute button and–pardon the pop culture reference–blocking out the haters. When you’re motivated and hardworking, people perceive you as a threat to the stability of their own stagnant careers. This means they’re naturally going to target you and seek to tear you down. While you should be aware of this, you can’t listen to everything they say.
By blocking out the noise, you can focus on the constructive tasks you have before you. This also goes back to the idea of surrounding yourself with the right people. If you put other hardworking people around you, you won’t be perceived as a threat or an “outsider.” Hard work will become the norm and the “haters” will be few and far between.
More from AllBusiness.com:
Never Get Outworked
Work ethic is a choice. While you can’t always choose your talents and skills, you can make a conscious effort to work harder than those around you. And as many successful entrepreneurs and professionals have shown, hard work beats out skill any day of the week.