Introverts are not all shy, quiet, easily startled folks who don’t work well with others and scuttle off to dark places to hide as often as possible.
Many introverts are highly driven, focused, and successful individuals.
Below are 14 key habits of highly successful introverts. If you’re an introverted type, you may already exhibit many of these traits.
And if you’re an introvert who doesn’t put these habits into practice, consider adopting the ones that resonate best with you.
1. They manage their time effectively.
Many introverts would be lost without their calendars and day planners. They have time management down to an art form and stick to their schedules as though their lives depend on them.
While sticking to their schedules may sometimes cause them anxiety, it’s an incredibly effective way to get things done on time.
Introverts are far less likely to miss work deadlines, and they can both anticipate and budget time for anything that may come up unexpectedly.
This time management extends to meal prep, exercise, play, and rest time, thus keeping their entire lives on track.
As a result, extremely introverted people are some of the most dependable folks you’ll ever meet. Their business associates and peers appreciate this because they’re never late for a meeting, nor will they miss anyone’s birthday.
An introvert’s time management skills help them be incredibly effective at whatever they do: they can estimate how much time it’ll take to do each task, which they complete on time rather than procrastinating or getting distracted.
2. They prepare for as many different scenarios as possible.
Prepping is not only something people do in the face of an imminent storm or disaster. Some of the most successful people in the world are those who are prepared for just about anything.
Many extroverts fly by the seat of their pants and dive into situations headlong, only to face setbacks and obstacles that they could have avoided with a bit of preplanning.
This is where your friendly neighborhood introvert comes in.
Whether you’re packing for a trip or planning an event, an introvert is your greatest asset. They’ll sit and consider everything that could possibly occur and prepare for all eventualities.
Introverts often come up with creative solutions that may not have otherwise come to mind.
These are the people who carry reusable wooden utensil kits in their bags because they can’t take metal objects on planes and divide their essentials between checked luggage and carry-ons in case the airline loses some of their possessions.
3. They play to their strengths.
Before an introvert truly understands their introversion, they may try to perform for the benefit of others.
This can range from pretending to be high energy and social at work to taking on projects that they’re ill-equipped for because they don’t want to let anyone down.
It takes time for introverts to not only discover their individual strengths but also to choose environments that allow their abilities to shine.
An introvert who knows their strengths is a force to be reckoned with. Although extroverts tend to get top billing at work and in social circles, there are several introvert superpowers that aren’t simply powerful—they’re absolutely vital.
In fact, there aren’t many organizations in the world that can thrive without the help of trusty introverts on the team.
For example, introverts are absolute wizards when it comes to fine-detail work. This makes them ideally suited to project management, event coordination, and data analysis.
Their ability to hyper-focus without distraction—often in solitude, for hours at a time—allows them to notice details others might miss or consider potential issues that may require contingencies.
If you want a gifted forensic pathologist to figure out the cause of your demise, hope for an introvert!
4. They think before they speak (or present ideas).
Carefully considering what they say is a trait common to just about all introverts. You’d never catch them blurting something out, hoping for the best, and then backpedaling if necessary.
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain touches upon how some of the most important discoveries have come about after introverts ruminated upon them until they became more tangible and refined.
Extroverts like to “brainstorm,” and they will throw the verbal equivalent of handfuls of spaghetti at walls until something sticks. In contrast, introverts like to contemplate things deeply and examine them from all sides before bringing them up to discuss with others.
It’s an invaluable trait that has saved many people from foot-in-mouth syndrome on countless occasions.
It’s also a great trait to cultivate in personal relationships. Things spoken in moments of anger can’t be taken back, so the ability to keep thoughts and emotions to oneself until they are ready to be expressed could mean the difference between a healthy discussion and a breakup.
5. They prioritize authenticity.
Many introverts will at some point try to adapt themselves to make other people happier or more comfortable, while throwing their authentic selves under the bus in the process.
But they cannot keep this up for long. Eventually, they must return to their natural tendencies.
Being authentic also involves being honest about how one thinks and feels. Although introverts may not be overt about their thoughts and beliefs, they’re generally honest when asked their opinion.
This may alienate those who disagree with them, but introverts would rather have sincere connections with others than pretend to agree for the sake of being liked or keeping the peace.
6. They are selective about who they socialize with.
Contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t shun all human contact in favor of huddling under blankets with their cats.
Many introverts thrive when they socialize, provided it’s with the right people and in circumstances that fuel them rather than drain their batteries.
Yes, they may struggle to let go of connections that have lasted years or give up social activities that they have always gone along with but don’t enjoy that much.
But they eventually conclude that some relationships are best left in the past. Instead, they will nurture their truest connections and make them unbreakable.
7. They set (and maintain) strong boundaries.
Introverts tend to need stronger boundaries than extroverts, and they are more likely to get upset when they’re overstepped.
For example, an extrovert might love to stop working repeatedly over the course of the day to chat with coworkers; whereas, introverts find such interruptions excruciating.
It takes them longer to deep dive into their work, and every intrusion derails them and then requires more focus and concentration to get back to what they were doing.
Highly successful introverts will lay down ground rules and guard them fiercely. For example, when they’re at work, they may stipulate that when their office door is closed, they are not to be disturbed unless the building is on fire.
8. They aim to stay calm and composed.
While extroverted people are often well-liked by their peers and have great camaraderie in the workplace, it’s assertive introverts who are often more respected due to their calm composure and eloquence.
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, since introverts are generally more thoughtful and deliberate in decision-making and expression, they often command the attention and respect of others far more than bubbly, high-energy extroverts whose presentations may veer off in all directions while they bounce around.
Consider a range of celebrities or characters from series or films you enjoy, and then consider which of them you’d be more inclined to listen to and respect.
If you needed to rely on and trust a leader, would you prefer Captain Picard (an introvert) or Tony Stark (extrovert)? Similarly, whom would you be more likely to listen to—or believe—if they were hosting an academic lecture: Jodie Foster or Katy Perry?
There’s a lot to be said for introverts’ natural ability to speak and move with grace and dignity.
9. They are quite able to say, “No.”
Many extroverts are people-pleasers who’ll go with the flow, and thus they may find themselves in situations that they despise.
They may have no interest in a slam poetry and oyster party, but they’ll go with their friends because it’s a cool thing to do and everyone will be there. They know they’ll hate it, but they’re afraid of being judged or disliked unless they follow the crowd.
Highly successful introverts, on the other hand, tend to have a strong sense of self and worry less about whether others like them.
Because of this, they have little difficulty saying “no” to situations or ideas that don’t align with their interests or values or that they know will deplete their energy.
10. They prioritize their internal worlds over external demands.
Many extroverts get caught up in dramas that have nothing to do with them.
They frequently find themselves pulled in countless directions as all the people they know turn to them with various demands and needs. They’re everyone’s therapist, babysitter, life coach, shopping partner, and well, everything else.
In contrast, introverts turn their energy inward rather than outward, so they focus on their own thoughts, needs, and dreams rather than fixating on other people’s.
Since introverts’ social circles are very small and comprised of undemanding people, nearly all their energy can be put toward personal development and their own interests.
11. They create a focused work environment.
Highly successful introverts prefer to work in a quiet, calm space where they don’t have to deal with chaos throughout the day. Few things are as jarring to introverts as constant interruptions or loud noises when they’re focusing deeply on something.
In fact, these interruptions can cause actual pain to them, along with anxiety! Those who are the most successful in their endeavors have quiet offices or areas where they can work uninterrupted, at their own pace, with everything they need to be productive.
12. They rejoice in creative outlets.
Just about every introvert enjoys some form of creativity. Some like to draw or paint while others create music or experiment with cooking and baking.
This creativity provides much-needed grounding as well as an outlet for stress release.
The soothing joy they get from letting their creative juices flow can counterbalance that jagged feeling they can experience from overstimulation or social depletion.
13. They are forever learning new things.
What do you call a gathering of introverts? A TED Talk audience.
Okay not really, but the audiences of lectures and seminars are likely to be made up of an introverted majority.
While many extroverts learn new ideas and skills by interacting with others, introverts—who love to immerse themselves in various subjects—do best when they’re absorbing information that they can process and disseminate throughout their (mostly online) social network later.
14. They prioritize specific decompression protocols.
This may be last on the list, but it’s certainly not the least.
Almost every introvert you’ll meet deals with some type of overstimulation. Some may have difficulty keeping track of multiple discussions at once and “zone out” if they have to socialize in too many directions.
Others may get panic attacks if they’re accosted by too much sound, light or physical contact.
There are countless ways they may go into full overwhelm mode, but nearly all introverts do. When this happens, they need to excuse themselves and decompress for the sake of their sanity.
Introverts have a wide range of activities they can tap into to decompress, though nearly all of them involve solitude. One person may like to soak in a bath in complete darkness and silence, while another may wind down by crafting or watching a film.
It’s important to not only learn to recognize when to recharge your social battery but also to discover the methods that work best for you.
I play video games to decompress; whereas, my partner reads or knits. Neither of us wants to partake in the other’s activity, but we recognize that they’re necessary for us as individuals.
Highly successful introverts make decompression and self-care priorities because they need to be. If they don’t put these into practice, they risk getting more and more depleted until they finally break down.
As such, many have personal “care packages” that they prep ahead of time (refer to #2: preparedness, here) so that they don’t have to scurry around to get supplies when they need them.
Hopefully these tips can help you channel your natural introvert superpowers so that you can be more successful in all your endeavors.
If they don’t all appeal to you, that’s cool—consider them a buffet you can pick and choose from and adapt with different seasonings to suit your tastes.
The key here is to realize that just because you’re an introvert in a world that seems to value high-energy extroversion, doesn’t mean you can’t be a startling success in whatever you choose to pursue.