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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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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