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Success Advice

10 Common Mistakes That Successful People Never Make




Do you ever feel exhausted by your efforts to be successful? Everyone’s idea of success differs, but one theme always remains constant – it’s hard freaking work. One day you’re riding the winds of inspiration and the next day, your stomach is in knots as you swallow the hard pill of defeat.

You’re doing everything right, but something’s wrong with the equation. Most days, you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels without getting any traction at all. You know the climb to the top is tough. So do you feel like every time you take three steps forward, it’s followed by a big slide backward?

Surely keeping the pedal to the metal will get you there in the end, right? Not always. Even if you’ve nailed all the big success-driving habits, it’s the little things you don’t get right that will eat away at your efforts, deplete your energy and trap you in a vicious cycle of defeat.

Watch the video below to look at the 10 common mistakes you could be making:

1. Treating every task as equal

The 80/20 rule is the all-powerful master of productivity. It means that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. When applied to your goal-setting each day, you’ll find that two of your top ten tasks will have more worth than the remaining eight put together. By ignoring this rule and expending too much effort on the less fruitful tasks, you’re never going to maximise your potential.

2. Saying yes to everybody

You’re everybody’s go-to person. You know your game, and you get stuff done. But operating without boundaries distracts you from your goals. Be objective with every request, and compare it to your goals and priorities. If there’s no correlation, say no.

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” – Bruce Feirstein

3. Not letting go of the details

Micromanaging your employees or freelancers not only zaps time and energy that’s better directed toward more worthwhile tasks, but it annoys people. And annoyed people never perform their best. Trust in your initial decision to appoint them to do the job in the first place. Allow them some autonomy and free yourself from the burden of detail.

4. Burning out before reaching the finish line

Pounding the pavement every day, even when you’re tired, has got to be good for you, right? No. Physical burnout is a real threat to achieving your goals. Ignoring your body and pushing it physically will only set you on the road to burnout. Try adding rest days into your schedule and mix gentle, low-intensity exercise into your regime to protect yourself from burnout. Success takes time, and sustainable activity levels are essential to maintaining the energy needed to propel you to the finish line.

5. Being too busy for anything new

You plan to enroll in a course to upskill yourself…one day. For now though, your days are just too busy to sit for days in a seminar. But, do you ever think “I already know that” or “that doesn’t apply to me”? Truly successful people don’t. They have growth mindsets and live every day with open minds, looking for ways to do things differently, expand their horizons and grow.

6. Building barriers instead of alternatives

Do you catch yourself saying “I can’t” and “that’s impossible”? These self-limiting phrases build mental barriers to your success. Even worse, others perceive them as pessimistic and unconstructive. When you encounter a difficult situation, focus your energy on finding ways to get around it. Retrain your brain by thinking of alternatives and use phrases such as “what I can do is . . .” and “let’s try this instead . . .”

7. Chasing vague goals

Success-driven goals are laser-focused, specific and measurable. Vague goals are impossible to achieve, so they’ll do nothing but erode your self-confidence and motivation. Avoid procrastination by planning your goals. Break them into steps and put them in order of priority. Apply the 80/20 rule and start with your most valuable tasks.

“If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.” – Thomas J. Watson

8. Getting sucked into negative space

We all know one of them. That person who drains your energy every time you encounter them. The passive ones quietly sabotage your productivity. The aggressive ones that slash your motivation to pieces. But beware, because they’ll take you down with them. Avoid their negative force-field by limiting meetings, using email instead of the phone and politely declining the “catch-up” they need, but you don’t.

9. Playing the blame game

Nobody is perfect. Even the pros make mistakes. The difference is that they understand the richness that can be found in failure and focus on learning from their mistakes. Failure rewires the brain to avoid the same situation next time. Open your mind to the role you have played in anything that goes wrong and look for the silver lining; it’s always there.

10. Making tomorrow the busiest day of the week

It’s that day of the week with everything in it. All the tasks you couldn’t fit into today. The less attractive actions you need to take to overcome an obstacle. The big things that need more time to do. Realize that putting off action until tomorrow only pushes your success another day further away. The best day to start is today. Even if you only take a small step, it’s still one step closer to your goal. Fix these mistakes and clear your path to success.

Did you find yourself nodding in recognition of familiar behaviors? Or perhaps you started chewing your fingernails in unconscious panic. Don’t worry – it’s not all over.

Now that you’re aware of errors you’ve been making, you’re a huge step ahead of where you were moments ago. Now that you’re aware of the little things that have been holding you back, you’re in the power seat, holding the keys to positive change.

What mistakes are you currently making today and what are you going to do about them? Leave your thoughts below!


  1. Elizabeth Derby

    Mar 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Miranda, I used to *always* make tomorrow the busiest day of the week. Actually, EVERY day was the busiest day…but justifying tomorrow as an alternative not only kept me running, it kept me from build space into my schedule for new clients!

    These days, my biggest mistake is not consciously taking time to rest and rejuvenate after I’ve been working long hours. I have fun, but sometimes it’s just too much—which means I need to get my booty to the gym, or go for a walk, or meditate, or simply “take the air.”

    Thanks for this great list!

  2. Atharv

    Feb 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hi Miranda, Thankyou so much for your real world reminders.
    In my life , I’m struggling with all these 10/10 problems and get confussed alot. Don’t know what to do. Live or not. Please suggest one initial step to start with. God Bless you …

  3. Saheed Oladele

    Dec 31, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Nice one, Miranda.

    The 80/20 rule has helped me scale the hurdles a number of times.

  4. Miranda Hill

    Dec 28, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Hi Blaine, I totally agree. That tip is my personal favourite. I believe negative people can be damaging to our mindset and wellbeing. And they rub off on you, turning you into one yourself. It’s a dangerous cycle. Take care, Miranda 🙂

  5. Laura Tong

    Dec 28, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Such a comprehensive list Miranda, thank you for the great reminders. I can hold my hand up to all of these but perhaps #5 most of all! Perhaps one mistake I made forever until recently that I could offer as an addition: trying to do it all alone, never asking for help or more importantly teaming up with others – this alone has made a huge difference in the distance I’ve traveled in the last 8 months.

  6. Therese

    Dec 25, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    gulp!! #1, #7, #10 ….. trip me up! Going to work on that one – especially the vague goals. Looking back to this year, I see when I made them tangible and quantifiable – they were attained. And the feeling of satisfaction that accompanies the achievement spurs you on to the next goal.

  7. Quinn Eurich

    Dec 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Great list Miranda . . . and a few too many hit home! LOL! And good timing as the New Year is right around the corner. Looks like I have to revise my list of resolutions!

  8. Blaine Wilkerson

    Dec 23, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Hi Miranda,

    Although I can relate to all of these… “getting sucked into that negative space by that person who drains your energy upon every encounter”…yeah, that one smacked me right between the eyes. Sometimes my patience and tolerance backfires.

    Funny thing is, I’m willing to bet I’ve been “that guy” more often than I want to know about. Heck, I bet all of us have been guilty of sucking the energy out someone’s day. Kinda like how we think we’re the only good drivers on the road. 🙂

    Thanks for helpful reminders!

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