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10 Toxic Habits We Have That Most Of Us Are Simply Unaware

10 Toxic Habits We Have That Most Of Us Are Simply Unaware

I once heard that our good habits better outweigh our bad ones by far if we ever want success in anything in life. It sounds simple and almost obvious, but the truth is that most of us aren’t even aware of our bad habits. It certainly makes sense, our habits are automatic, we don’t think before we act.

Did you know that on average 40% of your daily actions are automatic? This serves us in many ways; imagine having to remind ourselves to breath, or re-learning how to drive a car every day? Other habits seem to cause chaos in our lives though, but that can definitely be turned around. Here are 10 of the top toxic habits we have that most of us are simply unaware of…

1. Letting the past dictate your present and your future

Just like an elephant, chained to a small stick, it is conditioned to believe it cannot escape, many of us also become prisoners of our past. How often do let your past influence what you do now? Having a bad past relationship and letting it influence your present and future ones is a choice you make, however unaware you are.

Just because your ex cheated on you, it doesn’t mean your next partner will for example. Create a new beginning, decide how you want to feel about something going forward, don’t let one memory taint you forever and be open to creating new ones for yourself.

2. Expecting the worst to happen

How often do you think about the things you don’t want to happen? Like how you don’t want to be late for traffic, or how you hope it won’t be another painfully stressful day at the office? It seems to be an all too common default way of thinking, but it clearly doesn’t do any good at all. What you focus on expands, so start to think about what you want to happen instead.

Let’s say that you have a presentation to give, you will might automatically think about all the things that can go wrong instead of thinking about how well you will do the presentation, a very unconscious habit.

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Focus your thoughts on the good things that can happen, and make a conscious effort not to worry so much. You will feel so much better because both your body and mind will not only be less stressed, but actually happier too. Another benefit is that you will probably find things will start to turn out better as a consequence as well.

3. Talking about mutual friends when they aren’t around

If you are honest with yourself, you will admit to speaking about others when they aren’t around, however harmless. You know when you are crossing the line and when you do, you probably know you shouldn’t be. When you do this, you unknowingly give an impression on other people that you cannot be trusted and you are also reconfirming that subconsciously to yourself.

It is mainly just a harmless habit and most of the time it is not done with bad intentions, rather mindless gossip. I caught myself commenting on how miserable my one friend was the other day; as silly and unconscious as it was, it is a bad habit that could easily spur out of control. Be conscious when you are doing it, don’t keep on and reinforce the habit. Talk about others the way you want others to speak about you.

4. Not following through on what you say

Think about it, how do you feel about people who don’t follow through on things? Cancelling plans, saying they will do things, but they don’t; empty promises. Not following through on what you say is like ‘crying wolf’ because your word starts to mean nothing, to yourself and to others.

If you commit to meeting your friends for dinner for instance, don’t cancel and if you say you will send an email or call somebody, do it. Think twice before you say yes or commit to anything and stick to what you say if you do! If you can’t stick to the small promises, how will you stick to the big ones?

5. Self sabotage

The most challenging of all the toxic habits is when we stand in our own way and we don’t get out. It is really perplexing and hard to identify why we resist the things which we want. At the same time, chewing on bubble gum doesn’t have an outcome; and neither does worrying, yet it has a strangely comforting feeling. This feeling gives us a false sense of resolving the issue. This doesn’t help at all, it only makes us feel more frustrated, yet we still do it.

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If you have been wanting to lose weight for years for example, and you find yourself talking about it more than doing anything about it, get the support you need and stop self sabotaging yourself.

If you are lacking the impetus to change what you don’t like or go after something you do, find the motivation that will almost pull you forward and connect this to your values. Also separate your old self from the part of you who wants to change. You will always come up against resistance when trying to change a habit, so give yourself permission to break free from the cycle of sabotage you find yourself in.

6. Comparing yourself to others

This is by far one of the most meaningless habits we have. The only person we should compare ourselves to is ourselves. Your circumstances, experiences and skills are different to everyone else – you can’t compare apples with bananas just because they are both fruit. Remind yourself that it is not fair to compare, we are all just too different.

Let’s look at a typical example of success; don’t compare somebody else’s success to your own success, but rather compare how successful you are now with how much more you could be. Focus on your strengths and what you are good at. Don’t compare yourself to anyone and focus on you, what you are good at, challenge yourself to achieve what you desire, and let that be the only comparison you make.

7. Obsessed with wanting to change somebody else

I have to put this on the list because you see it too many times and you might even be doing this yourself unknowingly. Wanting to change other people to be more how you want them to be is a fruitless expedition because people will only be who they want to be, not who we want. We can give advice, be a shoulder to cry on, but we cannot dictate how another should act or live. The only person that we have power over changing is ourselves, and that is it.

You see, hear and read about it all the time, especially with couples trying to get the other partner to stop drinking, taking drugs or partying for example, and unfortunately the story always ends the same.

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We can be concerned if someone has bad habits, but being consumed with making someone change is just not realistic or fair and probably won’t ever happen. If you have been subconsciously wanting someone to change, let it go, you will realize one day that that person wasn’t meant to be for you or they weren’t ready to change.

8. I will be happier when or if……

We are surrounded by media and press continuously brainwashing us with the idea that life would be better if we have more of this and less of that. This leaves us chasing illusions that don’t exist and we are left feeling disillusioned with our own life. I will be happier when I have more money, when I lose weight, a better career or when I find the perfect partner. We don’t realize we think this way until we listen to the words we chose and what we say.

There is good and bad in where you are right now in your life, just like there will be when you have more of whatever it is you desire. Seeing only one side (the illusion) is the bad habit. Chasing illusions keeps us feeling discontent with life right now.

The most typical of this way of thinking is to think you will be happier when you have more money for example. The truth is that you will probably be less stressed, but not happier. Happiness comes from the present, from living in the now and being grateful for what you have, not focused on what you don’t (which is ironically, what keeps could you unhappy). Let go of this illusion, live more in the present and stop thinking about the when’s/if’s – they will always be an illusion in the future.

9. Negative thought patterns you need to drop now

We have 60 000 thoughts on average bombarding our mind all day long. most people are unaware just how negative they actually are because it is a habit to think this way. Maybe when you grew up, you adopted this habit from your family or someone around you. Like most people, thinking negatively seems to be more common than thinking positively. Thinking negatively blocks creativity, inspiration, and possibilities.

It makes you enlarge the bad and minimize the good and therefore, feel really bad. Become more aware of your way of thinking and challenge the negative thoughts. A few examples could be if you tend to think more about the things that you can’t do, you put yourself down more than you compliment yourself or you dismiss your own ideas as impossible. Any thought that doesn’t support you in life, is most probably negative.

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Sometimes you can’t prevent negative thoughts popping into your head, but you do have the choice to believe them or think differently instead. What do you choose?

10. Being a hypocrite

Do you practice what you preach? It is really annoying to hear people give advice they clearly don’t take themselves. Even worse, saying you are a certain way when you clearly aren’t! Some people tend to have a habit of always telling others how they should live or what to do, but they never turn that finger around and point it back at themselves. It can be frustrating and irritating to watch someone so unaware of how hypocritical they are being.

Don’t give advice unless you take it yourself, and don’t tell others how to live. Don’t tell other people to be healthier and not drink coffee if you do unhealthy things like each crisps, for example. What works for you might not necessarily work for others. We have probably all been a hypocrite in some way or other, I’m sure those around you would agree. But you have a choice now and in changing who you are being. We all have habits that we wish we didn’t, that we don’t like and many of those we don’t even know we have as well.

Take a few minutes to be honest with yourself about the toxic habits that you might have and put a plan together to change them. We certainly develop habits we are not aware of, but once we are, it is up to us to change them or ignore them. You can’t change who you are, but you can change who you are being. Each and every one of us has that option. To your success

Featured photo credit: man walking alone by the sea in winter via shutterstock.com

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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