Habits are the foundation of our everyday lives. We build our daily practices, and eventually our habits and routines shape us.
We either build good habits that support us as we move toward our goals or bad ones that undermine our ability to achieve and succeed. One thing is for certain: it’s going to be difficult to reach your dreams if you are living with a slew of bad habits.
Here are 18 destructive habits that may be holding you back from your ultimate success.
1. Seeking approval
If you are focused on what others think of you, you aren’t listening to yourself. Your attempts to gain approval from others will only hold you back. There are times when it’s good to get the opinions of others, but you don’t need constant accolades from everyone around you. You are your own person, with your own successes and failures. Eventually you have to stand on your own two feet.
2. Shifting the blame
It’s tempting to shift the blame off of your own shoulders. In fact, it’s natural to want to attribute shortcomings to someone or something else. Instead of making excuses, start taking action. Stop looking for reasons why it isn’t your fault and consider what changes you should make to fix the problem. No matter what the circumstances, you have control over your actions. Find a way to turn that negative into a positive.
3. Undefined goals
Many people have an idea, concept or dream they want to turn into reality. But without a firm plan and a clear vision, you have no way of achieving anything. Defining your goals is the first step toward making them happen. It’s about creating a roadmap that will guide you. Without a plan to pull you into the future, you can easily go off course without even knowing it.
4. Neglecting your health
Letting yourself fall into bad health habits such as eating poorly, not exercising or not getting enough sleep will leave you mentally and physically exhausted, stressed and prone to illness. These can have real impacts on your ability to perform because you’re less likely to be focused and productive when you aren’t feeling well. Also, remember the importance of taking time to enjoy life. If you’re so busy working hard and taking life seriously, you’re probably missing out on everything else.
Self-doubt is a dream killer. Negative thinking and a fear of rejection will only fuel feelings of uncertainty and indecision. If you constantly doubt yourself and question whether your goals are attainable, your pessimistic feelings will become self-fulfilling. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a negative thought loop. You cannot succeed if you are holding yourself back. If you believe in yourself and visualize your success, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Procrastination is the quicksand of accomplishment. With so many distractions out there, it’s easy to get suckered into inaction and complacency. Failure to keep moving forward will lead to stagnation. If you are afraid of taking the next step, you will eventually be overtaken by inertia and indifference. A leader is someone who knows when to spring into action and seize an opportunity. At some point, you need to stop planning and start doing.
7. Feeding distraction
Let’s face it, there’s never a lack of distractions--hello social media! But when your attention is pulled in a million directions, it’s hard to focus your thoughts. If you are living a distracted life, your goals are being sidelined. Stop feeding your distractions and stifling your achievements. When you find yourself bouncing from one task to another, take a deep breath. Slow down and calm your mind. Doing this will help you concentrate and increase your productivity.
8. Putting yourself (or others) down
If you constantly engage in negative self-talk or putting others down, you are only inviting negativity into your life. Telling yourself “you’re stupid” or “you can’t do anything right” is inflicting wounds that will hold you back. Similarly, when you do it to others, you drag everyone down. Stop the harsh put-downs. Tell your inner critic to take a hike. Even better, replace these negative habits with positive ones. Focus not on what went wrong but on what you’re proud of. Find the good in those around you. Look for ways to bring yourself and everyone else up.
9. Staying in your comfort zone
Taking risks is a scary proposition for many. After all, stepping outside your comfort zone means taking a leap of faith and inviting the possibility of failure. But you will never know what you are truly capable of unless you try. Consider the many business leaders who took radical leaps out of their comfort zone, such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Larry Ellison and Warren Buffet. All of them failed at one point, but none would have been successful if they hadn’t pushed themselves. Remember, with great risk comes the possibility of great reward.
10. The need to always be perfect
Nobody is perfect. Constantly striving for perfection only sets an unattainable bar for yourself. Just as there are things in life you will be good at, so too will there be areas in which you struggle. You will falter at times and fly at times. Instead of setting unattainable expectations for yourself, accept that you will make mistakes. If you learn from those mistakes, you will grow stronger from those experiences.
11. Waiting for the right time
If you refuse to jump into the fray until it feels like the “right” time, you may spend your life as a benchwarmer. It’s one thing to make calculated risks by watching the economy or taking the time to fine-tune your skills. But don’t let fear keep you from moving forward. If you never start, you will never succeed.
12. Not having a budget
Careless spending can easily lead to financial undoing, which will seriously undermine your chances for success. Even something as simple as not paying attention to small costs can really add up. Are your random or impulsive purchases sucking your budget dry? Setting a budget can keep you on track financially. In addition, if you stick with good money habits, you will have fewer money anxieties, so you can devote your time and energy to the things that really matter.
13. Overlooking the importance of persistence
Don’t make the faulty assumption that talent outweighs persistence when it comes to success.
Sure, talent helps, but it is something that can be sharpened and cultivated over time. Ultimately, persistence is the engine that will get you to the finish line. The ability to stick with your project, working tirelessly to see it through, will be your secret weapon to achieve success.
14. Not knowing when to let go
You’ve invested endless hours in a project, tried a myriad of strategies, changed tactics and poured resources into it. But no matter how hard you try, it’s a losing proposition. There comes a time when you need to let go. Even the captain on a sinking ship must know when to grab the life preserver. It’s hard to walk away from something to which you are emotionally (or financially) connected. But knowing when to move on will give you the freedom to focus on new enterprises and take advantage of other opportunities.
15. Not educating yourself
Successful people are almost always voracious readers. Reading is the basic way we educate ourselves and gain knowledge. It gives you a window into different perspectives, helps you understand what is happening in the world and keeps you up to date with trends. No matter how successful you are, you should always be seeking deeper insights. Knowledge empowers you to dream bigger.
16. Not asking questions
Those who question and listen with an open mind will have a better insight into what is going on in the world around them. Asking questions will help you gain the information you need to make better decisions. Those who believe they already know everything will be sorely mistaken. Developing an inquisitive and open mind helps you really hear what someone else is saying. You will be able to gain advice and feedback when you need it most.
17. Not apologizing for mistakes
We all make mistakes, but taking ownership of them can be difficult. It is hard to take the hit to your ego and admit you were wrong. But taking responsibility for a mistake will go a long way toward earning people’s respect. Apologizing can build trust with those around you. When you acknowledge that something has gone awry, it allows you to be open and honest so you can move forward.
18. Being consumed by failure
Don’t let failure weigh you down. Instead, wear it like a badge of honor. You took a risk and it didn’t work out. It’s an awful feeling, but you should recognize that you aren’t alone. No one succeeds without failing sometimes. Assess what went wrong. Learn the lessons you need to learn so you can move forward and make better decisions next time.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.