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9 Things You Need To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Successful

9 Things You Need To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Successful

Earl Nightingale, American motivational speaker and author, once said, “We become what we think about.” Perhaps truer words have never been spoken. The human mind is an incredible thing, and having the right attitude and mindset has routinely been stated by numerous successful people as being a pivotal key to success. Sometimes, however, it is easy to get side-tracked. Situations in life can get in the way of our goals, self-esteem, and personal well-being. Truthfully, success is a subjective term, and everyone will disagree over what constitutes being successful. Here are a list of guidelines, however, of some things to stop doing if you want to be or feel successful.

1. Stop Expecting Perfection

Often, we get frustrated when things don’t work out the way we want them to, or as quickly as we’d like them to. We stress over small details, or beat ourselves up for getting one thing wrong, or forgetting to dot one I or cross one T. People are fallible. Mistakes and drawbacks are a fact of life. Nothing is nor will it ever be perfect, and that’s okay.

Stressing out over minute details or things that would have been impossible to get to is unproductive and unhealthy. Start saying that you will do your personal best, because at the end of the day, you’re not in competition with anyone but yourself.

Example: Jennifer Lawrence is someone who everyone seems to be talking about right now, but did you know she was rejected for the role of Bella Swan in ‘Twilight‘? She also didn’t take theater classes. She just trusted her instincts and worked as hard as possible to land acting roles. Obviously, she wasn’t perfect for every role, but she didn’t expect perfection. She takes her failures and rejections well, trying to learn from each situation.

2. Stop Saying Yes When You Want to Say No

It’s always important to know your limits, and people will always try to test them. Human beings are social animals. We want to interact with others and feel like we are a part of something or like we are special to someone else. People also, for the most part, like to please others. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to be taken advantage of. Whether it’s helping a co-worker with something when you can’t really afford to, or loaning a friend money you can’t really afford to give.

Out of guilt, people often say yes to people and situations that they really should say no to. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut and say no. Sometimes you can’t stay a few hours later because you had other plans or important errands to run. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to that co-worker that keeps nagging you for help but is really just stalling because they don’t want to work and know you’ll help them.

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Sometimes it’s okay to prioritize other things over work. Saying no is healthy. Saying no means that you know your boundaries and can demand respect.

Example: Margaret Thatcher is known as being tough. She was a powerful politician. She also knew during her career when she had to take a stand, and sometimes that stand meant saying no to bad political and economic policy.

3. Stop Negative Self-Dialogue

We all can probably play back in our minds every negative or embarrassing thing we’ve ever done to ourselves, been subjected to, or done to someone else. Whether it’s tripping over one’s shoelaces in the fourth grade, or being fired from a job, wronging someone else, or overhearing someone speaking negatively about us, those thoughts are forever solidified in our minds.

Replaying those thoughts, however, and constantly punishing oneself for past mistakes, is counterproductive at certain points. At some point, it’s more important to learn from situations and move on, instead of psychologically beating yourself up.

The next time you find yourself saying, “I’m not pretty enough”, “I did this horrible thing once five years ago and I’ll never forgive myself”, or any type of statement along those lines, turn off that negative self-dialogue. Look in the mirror and say something kind to yourself. Read some inspirational quotes. Acknowledge that you are taking steps and making an effort to be a better person. Admit to yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and most importantly, that making mistakes is okay.

Example: This article does a good job of listing Steve Job’s failures. We remember him anyway, and we remember him as a pioneer and someone who didn’t give up. When things go wrong, and they often do, it’s easy for us to remember every mistake we have ever made along the way.

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Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of our goals because of that lack of confidence. Don’t give up and attempt to stay positive. Train your brain to think of things in a new, more positive way. Most of all, keep working hard. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent.

4. Stop Focusing On Just Today

Successful people tend to understand the value of a good plan. They plan out their day, their goals, a budget and they plan how much to save for retirement. That doesn’t mean they don’t have fun, though. They most certainly do! They just make sure to plan when it is appropriate and inappropriate to have fun. They make time for productivity and fun, but still save and think about the future.

So, stop just focusing on today and having fun. Think about where you want to be in five, 10 or 15 years down the road! Having a good focus aids in success!

Example: Neil deGrasse Tyson has been in love with the universe and science since he was nine years old. Because of that love, he worked long-term to study the things he cared about. He was accepted into Harvard where he majored in physics, eventually moving on to advanced education. His list of accomplishments would take up another full article in and of itself.

5. Stop Ignoring Your Goals

Stop believing things will just work out for you because you’re a good person. Good things only happen to people who make an effort. A part of making an effort is setting goals for oneself. As evidenced in the previous point, it’s not enough to just focus on the day at hand. It’s important to manage time and set short-term and long-term goals in order to be able to track progress and have something to strive for.

Example: Alan Turing is considered the father of artificial intelligence and computers. He also broke the code to the Nazi encryption machine called Enigma. He faced many challenges along the way, such as the inability to identify with others and being charged with indecency, for which he was eventually pardoned. Despite his personal struggles, though, he managed to break the code for Enigma, saving approximately 14 million people from death and in turn helped end World War 2.

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6. Stop Isolating People

Successful people understand that not everything is about work, church or similar obligations. Some things are about family, relaxation, and hobbies. It’s easy to get the impression that everyone who feels or defines themselves as successful probably has no spare time on their hands, and in some cases, that’s true.

However, it isn’t always. Social isolation can kill people. In fact, many successful people have mastered the art of balance. They don’t isolate the people they love because they have large goals or something they want to accomplish. Instead, they incorporate those they love into their goals and hobbies.

Example: According to a recent Forbes article, many leaders feel lonely. However, here are 25 examples of social business leaders who seem to thrive on relationships. It’s okay to know how to work alone and prefer that, but it’s also important to be able to rely on your staff, friends, and family for support.

Involving people in leadership or product processes makes them feel valued and provides valuable feedback. Successful people enjoy that relationship. They also enjoy their time away from their goals and work to spend time with their loved ones.

7. Stop Comparing Yourself To Everyone Else

Successful people understand that the only person they can compete with today is the person they were yesterday. They are too focused on themselves and their goals to worry about anyone else. They don’t want to compare themselves to others because it’s counterproductive. However, they do analyze where they have weak points and are able to genuinely admire people who have mastered things they have not.

There is no use to comparing yourself to someone else. It’s counterproductive and harmful to your self-esteem. It also helps to harbor negative self-dialogue.

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Example: Taylor Swift is one of the most successful recording artists of our time, but before that, she was a struggling musician in Nashville playing at small venues and coffee shops. She would turn in demos to various studios, covering a variety of songs.

It was only when she started playing and writing her own music that she got noticed and became the celebrity she is today. She faced a lot of adversity as well. There were people who doubted her skills and told her she couldn’t sing. Her confidence and faith in herself overcame that.

8. Stop Living In The Past

Successful people learn from their failures, but they do not live in the past. They take the skills and lessons they acquired from their failures and apply them to the present and future. Don’t live in your own personal past. Don’t define yourself by who you were. Define yourself by who you are today and by who you’re working toward becoming.

Example: Would we even remember Thomas Edison if he gave up on his ideas before becoming successful? Can you imagine simply focusing on what happened yesterday? So what if yesterday was a failure? Try again! Failure teaches us about what doesn’t work, and helps us get closer to a process that does work. Choose your attitude and control it. Move forward. Remember, failure is feedback.

9. Stop Tolerating Dishonest People

Successful people appreciate other people for their unique traits and gifts. They do not attempt to harm, belittle, or in any way demean others for their own successes or ideas. They are open to relationships with others, but know when to cut the cord, so to speak.

People can be too forgiving when it comes to being wronged, and it’s important to know one’s limits. Successful people do not tolerate negative and dishonest people, because they are too busy loving honest, sincere people.

Example: Everyone. We have all had frenemies. We have all invested in people who did not return our investment in them. Successful people know how to weed these dishonest people out. No one wants unneeded negativity around themselves or around the people they love. Read this article for tips on how to deal with dishonest people.

Featured photo credit: Nevit Dilmen via commons.wikimedia.org

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Emina Dedic

TEFL Instructor, Traveler, Professional Writer, Model

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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