The path of success is often littered by our own trash, obstacles that we place ourselves. Habits, by definition are behaviors that are so ingrained that we no longer become conscious of them; actions that turn into autopilot. The power of habit is severely under-recognized as driving force toward success. When the incredible Brian Tracy was asked about the key to success, he replied, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
While there are many people that possess many successful habits, these habits are being undermined by toxic habits- it is taking one step forward but then two steps back. Breaking the bad habit could be the game-changer that you are desperately needing.
Here are 10 of the worst habits that are holding you back from success:
1. Waiting for the ‘right’ moment
How many times have you said, “I’m just going to wait until I have enough money saved up,” or “I need to research more.” As the Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Stop waiting for the unicorn and take the bull by the horns now. Any action is better than no action.
2. The approval of others
While it is important to receive validation for your work, constantly seeking that pat on the back from others will get you nowhere. Do not feed into the ego of your ever-needy self-esteem. It is nice to receive good comments on your work. But do not mix up what is good for the ego for what is good for your productivity.
3. The need to always be perfect
Perfectionism is crippling. By all means strive for excellence and seek to produce the best product you are able to deliver. But spending far too much time on any task can become detrimental when you have people waiting for you to deliver. If your work meets their expectations, then drop the product. If you exceed it, even better. But do not keep them waiting too long. You could spend an eternity improving a product.
4. Giving too much respect
Even Einstein made mistakes. Just because someone is in a prominent position, it does not mean they have all the answers. This habit cripples many people who listen to ‘respectable’ figures who are in a completely different field to them.
How many times have you seen an actor endorsing a product they know nothing about and people listening just because they are famous? Terrible habit.
It should not only be great leaders that aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty, but anyone striving after success. Getting your hands dirty means engaging in a task that is outside of your responsibility.
Win the respect of others by doing something beyond your duty.
6. Not learning from people ‘less’ than you
Pride is like putting poison into your own glass of water. Great knowledge can come from anyone. But if you simply shut someone off because they do not have a PhD or they are not a CEO, you are potentially robbing yourself of a golden nugget. You never know what kind of experience a person has or who the person may be connected with.
7. Rushing the last look
You are so excited with finishing your work that you just want to ship it straight out the door without giving it a final once-over. This is the Achilles Heel for most writers. But what separates a good writer from an average writer is patience- many writers will let an article sit overnight and then make more edits in the morning before sending it. This applies for other industries also, take time to give it one last thorough check. Even get someone else to have a look before you ship or hit the send button.
8. Not being vulnerable
It is easy to feel the need to put on a mask in your career, particularly if you are in leadership. No doubt there is a clear line that needs to be drawn between employers and employees. But you need to take off the iron suit every now and then.
Admit to making mistakes, make apologies when you are in the wrong. You will be respected.
9. Too stubborn to let go
While grit, tenacity, and perseverance are all great qualities, they can be crippling when they are directed toward the wrong goal. This is difficult with any project that you have poured your heart and soul into. But if it is not profitable nor bringing you closer to your goal, then you need to recognize when you are being stubborn and let go. Treat any humiliation like water off a duck’s back and direct your energy toward the next project.
10. The contentment plateau
There is a dark side to being satisfied with your work and accomplishments. Being content and comfortable is the enemy of improvement. Take time during your journey to stop and smell the roses, but do not let be left standing there when the roses are long gone.
Keep setting the bar higher. Knock down a goal, celebrate it, move on.
On a final note, Samuel Johnson gives a great warning on the crucial need to break detrimental habits – “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” If you are suffering from any of these 10 toxic habits, then you need to nip it in the bud today.