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13 Common Bad Habits That Hold You Back From Success

13 Common Bad Habits That Hold You Back From Success

Habit-forming goes hand in hand with success. There’s no ‘if’s’ or ‘buts’ on this one; it is essential to create solid habits that align with your values for you to make a success in whatever area of your life you wish. Creating habits that will serve you is all well and good, but have you ever honesty sat down and assessed the areas that might be holding you back?

It’s almost as if you are sitting in your car, foot firmly pressing down the accelerator, but you are going nowhere. Until you release the handbrake you are not going to move. Bad habits are your handbrake and for every great idea you will need to release the handbrake. Below are 15 habits that are currently holding you back from getting exactly where you want to go.

1.Waiting for the right moment

There never really is a right moment, so waiting around for one is pretty much a waste of your time You have to pick your moment – the one that suits the direction you want to go in right here, right now.  Waiting for the right moment can be disguised as procrastination, or if I may say so, fear. If you live true to your values then every moment should be acted on within the best of your interests. In every second of each day you have total control of each moment so aim to make each one fit right with you. Be aware, take the opportunity and create, create, create.

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2. Needing approval from others

Once you understand that you are responsible for everything that has come and gone in your life you’ll realise that everything from here onwards depends on you as well. Taking action and having faith in your own decisions will make you a leader and therefore will not wait around for the opinion and approval from others.

3. The need to always be perfect

Striving for perfection is almost a form of self-harm.  It’s like being that dog in the cartoons chasing its tail. It’ll never happen, because perfection doesn’t exist. Think about it: when is anything ever perfect? Life is always yin and yang so you have to accept that striving for perfection can be damaging to your success. It brings with it unhappiness as there is always ‘something else to do’ when at times its better to be proud of your achievements thus far.

4. Too stubborn to let go

Ideas will come and go, so will good people, business colleagues, employees, partners… but for your creativity to blossom you have to find a way to allow these things to leave your universe as easy as they came in to it. Nothing lasts forever so learn that letting go will allow you the freedom of thought to make better of your life and move you further in the direction of success. Be careful not to create an emotional attachment to things, as they will become harder to let go. Know that the person, idea or whatever you are holding on to does not define you so there is not need need to cling to it. Lose the emotion, lose the stubbornness and make way for the new.

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5. Not apologizing for making mistakes

Apologizing can really hurt your pride, right? Admitting liability for things gone wrong is not something that we are too comfortable with. What about stepping out of your comfort zone and having a look around you? The people you value the most, and have the best connection with, are the ones that are honest and open to you. If you want to move on in business and in life and want to be respected learn that apologizing for your mistakes is vital in moving forward. People respect honesty and any trust barriers will be broken.

6. Not learning from people “less” than you

I was once told by good friend that “everyone has something to offer” and at times when I’ve felt like like I haven’t needed input from anyone else I have reminded myself of this and allowed myself to open my mind. The truth is there is no one “less” than you and once you accept that your stubbornness will disappear. This doesn’t mean you have to take in everything that everyone says, but listen and give people your time as you may find that you will discover a little diamond of information that you just needed.

7. Not willing to do something beyond your duties

A little more effort goes a long way. You’ve heard the saying “you get out what you put in” right? Well it’s true, and you’ll find that those that are super successful do not sit around and revel in their accomplishments, they are always figuring out how they can do more and continue excelling. This also extends to stepping out of your comfort zone a little and surprising yourself by doing something you don’t usually do. You’ll feel great about it too, and it’ll become addictive.

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8. Spending too long worrying about the outcome

We all worry at times but letting worry take over you is not going to propel your success. There is only so much in your control so you can do something about it but there are many things that are out of your control and therefore will not serve you to worry about.  put in the hard work and from there onwards relax and let be what will be.  if you worry you will clog up your brain power and lose your creativity to continue your creative work.

9. Comparing yourself to others

Success should be a personal matter. Each individual should define what success means to them and you have to be doing that yourself. Find what’s important to you and what success looks and feels like to you and be in total control of that feeling. Looking at others and always knocking yourself down because you haven’t achieved what they have or own what they own is unnecessary. You have your divine right to create the kind of success that you have worked for.

10. Not assessing your mistakes

Mistakes are part of life; we all know that, but if you’re making the same ones over and over again don’t you think that there is something going seriously wrong? It’s time to assess your mistakes honestly. Break them down and ask yourself honest questions, first of all why they may be happening and why you didn’t act differently from last time. This will help you find better solutions for the future.

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11. Not working on your weaknesses

I’m sorry to break the headline news to you, but yes, you have weaknesses. That’s a great thing, though, because for every weakness, you have a strong area. Once you identify your weak areas spend a short amount of time each day working on ways to improve them. For example, if you know you need to improve your anatomy knowledge for your work, spend 15-20 minutes a day reading up on areas that you find difficult to understand and slowly but surely you will gain a much better understanding of what you need to learn.

12. Spending too long doing the things you don’t like doing

Is this contradictory of the point above? It certainly isn’t. What I’m getting at here is different to point 11. If doing your accounts drives you mad and takes up far too much of your valuable time, then hire an accountant and the job will be done properly. People often think about the expense of getting others to do work for them but trust in others’ expertise and let your mind focus on the things that you do well.

13. Taking life too seriously

Life can get you down for sure, but when you feel like the world is caving in on you remember how wonderful life is and think about all the great people and moments that have contributed in bringing you to where you are today. Remember when you were a child and you used to run around with youthful exuberance free of pain, stress and worry? Sure we have a lot more on our agendas as adults, but bring yourself back to that feeling of freedom because at any one time when you feel yourself sinking you have the freedom to take off and act upon making things better.  Your success is important, but you have full control of making of it what you wish. Smile more, love more and great things will inadvertently come your way.

Featured photo credit: brian carlson via flickr.com

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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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