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You May Not Realize It, But These 6 Small Habits Can Block Your Way To Success

You May Not Realize It, But These 6 Small Habits Can Block Your Way To Success

There’s a historian by the name of Will Durant who summarized an idea of Aristotle’s as, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” With that being said, often times your habits determine your success—or form road blocks. If you can find a way to rise above habits that are hindering your success, you will find that you will be able to reach the potential you’ve always had.

These six self-destructive habits are a good place to start making some changes:

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1. Checking your phone during a conversation

Think about the last time you were having a conversation with someone and they picked up their phone to check a text message or glance over when a notification popped up. It’s a really big turn off when you feel you aren’t being listened to. And it’s likely that while distracted, you’re probably missing some important information. When you’re having a conversation, focus all your attention on the conversation. By putting your phone away, you will find that the conversations you have will be more enjoyable when you fully immerse yourself in them.

It’s an out of sight, out of mind type of thing. If you can’t see it, there’s a good possibility that you’ll forget all about it for the time being. By doing this, you’ll find that the conversations you have will be more enjoyable when you fully immerse yourself in them.

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2. Dwelling on failures from your past

When you mess up it’s hard to not be really critical of yourself. You get those feelings of hating yourself, not feeling good enough, inadequate, etc. It’s normal to feel like that from time to time, but it won’t do you any good to provoke self-hatred by continuously dwelling on those mistakes. Try to train your mind to look at your mistake(s) as an opportunity to walk away with a lesson rather than beating yourself up and swimming in negative thoughts about yourself.

Instead of dwelling, start asking yourself questions about what led you to make the decision you made. It’s beneficial to adopt the habit of asking yourself questions about your failure rather than dwelling on the failure itself.

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3. Keeping relationships with toxic people

Toxic people tend to make their mark in our lives and manage to stay there. It doesn’t matter where you work, there’s always going to be someone that just really gets under your skin. You may find that your skin cringes with even the thought of this person. By letting this person influence you to the point where it affects your performance and mood at work, you’re hindering your success. When you feel these thoughts flooding into your mind, replace them with thinking about how grateful you are for someone else in your life. It doesn’t do you any good to think about the people who don’t matter when there are plenty of people out there who deserve your attention.

4. Comparing yourself to others

Not doing this can be really hard, I know. You may find yourself doing it sometimes without even realizing it. You lose control over your happiness when you compare yourself to those around you. When you’ve accomplished something that makes you feel good and satisfied, don’t allow another person’s opinion and/or their accomplishments take away those good feelings you have. It’s nearly impossible to not let what others think of you get into your head, but over time you can learn to quickly remove that negativity and keep moving forward.

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During these times, it’s important to remind yourself that your self-worth is something that comes from the inside. Keep this in mind—you’re never as bad as someone says you are.

5. Gossiping

They’re everywhere, you can’t escape them. People who love to gossip get a ‘high’ from other people’s short-comings and failures. It may seem tempting at first to engage with others and talk about someone else’s personal/professional life, but after awhile you’ll start to realize that you feel really awful about hurting other people. Instead of doing that, pay attention and talk about the positive things going on around you. People are very interesting, and there is so much you can learn from them. Have you ever noticed that a person who compulsively gossips is rarely happy with their own life? Remember that.

6. Being distracted by notification pop-ups

It’s very hard to stay focused every time a notification pops up on your phone or email. Each time your phone or computer makes a noise, it grabs your attention and causes your productivity to drop. Getting notifications multiple times throughout your day may make you feel like you’re being productive, but that’s far from the truth. Every time you get distracted, it’s taking your attention away from the things that need to be done. A task that should take you only a few hours can easily turn into an all-day affair if you’re not mindful of how distracting it can be.

To eliminate this, turn off your pop-up notifications while you’re working. Set certain times during the day when you check your phone and email. For example, when you get to work in the morning, when you take your lunch break, and then again right before you head out to go home for the day. You’ll start to realize how much more productive you are this way.

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Erica Wagner

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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