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Unsuccessful People Have These 7 Things in Common

Unsuccessful People Have These 7 Things in Common

Entire sections of bookstores are gathered with books about how to become successful.  Every day, the Internet promises hacks and tricks to “become a success at anything.” Even on Lifehack, there are lots of articles on how to be successful in life and developing a highly successful mind.

Advice on how to be successful is omnipresent.  At a certain point, since much of it contains almost the same basic guidelines, it can feel like noise.  How many books teach you how to be the opposite – to be unsuccessful?  Imagine if you knew what they were, you could subsequently avoid these steps to increase your chances of success in the process.  Well, here are 7 things that are guaranteed to make you unsuccessful.

1. Spend time discussing problems as opposed to solutions

Discussing problems tends to bring out additional negative emotions. Since humans experience a huge amount of negative thoughts in a day via habit, creating avenues to stir up additional negativity benefits no one. Analyzing a problem and suggesting solutions will improve it. Consistently pointing out the problems and why it can never be solved? Not so much.

I knew a friend once in the process of a divorce. He couldn’t accept the real truth of the situation and began to slide into depression and anger. The blame eventually shifted to his children and the focus was on how unhappy he was. His best bet was to start thinking about steps he could take to improve himself and better his current family (and relationships down the road). A consistent focus on problems won’t get him there.

2. Too proud to learn anything outside the comfort zone

Becoming comfortable with ideas opposite your own is crucial to life (and business) development.[1] People who believe that they’re already good enough or already know enough are likely to get left behind. Remember: 90% of “big data” is generated every two years.[2] Information moves very quickly these days, and everyone needs to embrace what’s outside their pre-existing knowledge to keep up.

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A good pop culture example is the film Doctor Strange. Strange was a very proud doctor and believed that he was the best in doing surgery until he had an accident and had his hands seriously injured. His strong ego stopped him from overcoming the injury. But eventually he had to drop his ego and learned everything from scratch again to live a better life.

3. Unable to enjoy solitude

Some people don’t feel complete unless others are around. Whether this is work partners, a spouse or significant others, kids, friends, or even random strangers at the bar, they need the presence of others to feel supported.

Being alone is actually a stage in life to grow yourself. The reality is that every person is on their own journey and not everyone has a partner all the time. Even in marriages, carving out time for yourself is time-honored advice to be successful.

Alone time can be very reflective: you can much better understand what you do and don’t want, your strengths and weaknesses, and what you’re looking for in life overall.

4. Unwilling to make mistakes

This usually speaks to fear. People who fear making mistakes spend a lot of effort on avoiding or hiding mistakes.

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Since mistakes (and overall failure) are inevitable, effort spent on avoiding mistakes is ultimately wasted.

Effort could instead be spent on making more attempts and, in fact, expecting more mistakes. FAIL is re-constituted as “First Attempt In Learning”. It’s a little cliche, sure, but it’s true. If you fail but learn from it, it’s not failure, it’s growth.

People who spend too much time avoiding mistakes prevent themselves from reaching opportunities that help with their growth.

5. Slave for instant pleasure

This has admittedly become more complicated with the rise of social media, but looking for immediate rewards (i.e. get-rich quick schemes, courses promising to make you a billionaire) and underestimating the efforts necessary for real success is very short-sighted.

Instant pleasure almost always comes at the expense of future opportunities.

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Imagine I had two offers for you, the first offer was giving you 100 dollars today, and the second offer was giving you 1000 dollars but 1 year later. Most people are likely to take the first offer even though they know they could get more if they waited.

As a result, it becomes nearly impossible to achieve goals, which always involves some degree of long-term sacrifice.

6. Live in the past or the future

People who live in the past focus on what they have done or could have done in the past. They blame their previous faults in the past. They sit around discussing the greatness of something from years ago.

People who live in the future rely on their future to get better. They talk about what they might achieve in the future if only they had the right timing or the right opportunities.

They don’t realize that what they do now — which was shaped in part by the past — becomes their future.

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7. Love to compete with others

Competition is healthy in doses, i.e. athletics. But in personal and professional relationship-building, competition becomes too much of a quest for external recognition, i.e. a focus on how to either beat others or become them

As Theodore Roosevelt said,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Excessive comparison also demotivates individuals because instead of seeing their unique strengths, they view themselves through a prism of others. This motivational source is unstable, which makes achievement uniquely hard.

That’s everything success has blacklisted.

Everyone should aspire to a degree of success, contentment, and happiness around their own life and priorities. We all deserve that chance.

There are millions of white lists out there about how to become successful. Some are obviously more viable and resonant than others. This is a black list on what to avoid.

The goal is still the same. Avoid the above behaviors and success should follow, or at least a greater sense of well-being and motivation. Sometimes you go north by beginning to go south, and that’s how this black list of unsuccessful behaviors can guide you.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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