5 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Success

The simple definition of success: achieving your goals effectively and efficiently to attain your purpose. But success is different for each person, it might mean standing out in your job, or it could mean starting a business that eventually becomes a global brand.

Regardless of how you define success, beware of these six habits that will sabotage your success.

Habit #1: Procrastination

Procrastination is choosing inaction over action. It’s possibly the most detrimental habit to success.

We delay making decisions because we tell ourselves that we need to “sleep on it”. We make excuses for not getting things done because we have more pressing priorities or because the timing’s not right.

Procrastinators often end up acting at the last minute which results in one thing – poor performance. Procrastination is also a recipe for lost opportunities that may never come again.

Breaking the habit: Stay alert to your thought process. When you catch yourself procrastinating, take immediate action, even if it is only a small step towards what you’re supposed to do. When you continue to practice this method, you’ll break the habit and gradually develop a new one of choosing action over inaction.

Habit #2: Seeking the approval of others

While it may be important, becoming obsessed with gaining approval will hinder you from achieving success on your own terms. Ultimately, you can’t control what others think and don’t forget that persistent critics will never be satisfied!

When your goal is to gain approval and praise, you actually get distracted from performing at your best. Even worse, you may be forced to compromise your values and beliefs. This is a major de-motivator because the resulting guilt of selling yourself short will overshadow all that you do.

Breaking the habit: Never do something just for the sake of gaining approval. Satisfy yourself first by doing your best. Let your actions speak for themselves, and when they do result in approval, great!

Habit #3: Worrying about the future

This is a common success-sabotaging habit that holds many back from advancing in their lives and careers. When we’re contemplating a change or major step forward, we typically start creating horror scenarios in our heads.  “What if I fail miserably and end up getting fired? What if I lose everything? etc.”

It’s normal to worry about the future but it’s also important to plan for it. But obsessing about it will keep you chained to your present and prevent you from succeeding.

Breaking the habit: Control what you can control. This means understanding that no matter what you do, the future is out of your control. But you do have control over weighing the options, assessing potential risks, identifying outcomes and planning to the best of your ability. Over time, you’ll come to find that the future is not as scary as you imagined if you plan with what is in your control. 

Habit #4: Overthinking

Overthinking is the biggest obstacle to decision-making; especially when a certain decision is time-sensitive and needs to be made quickly. Overthinking involves mulling over facts and information endlessly, which breeds hesitation. It involves dwelling on past experiences, usually negative, which breeds more hesitation.

Overthinking can spill over into even the most mundane areas of your life, like having a simple conversation. Rather than really engaging in the dialogue, your mind is busy analysing what’s being said, the hidden meaning in the words, and what you should say next. This can negatively affect your ability to communicate well with others and in turn, negatively affect your relationships.

Breaking the habit: Mindfulness is your best weapon here. This means being completely present in the moment and focused only on what is happening. Dismiss any thoughts that aren’t related to the present. You may want to consider mindfulness meditation as a powerful tool to wire your brain to stay present and grounded.

Habit #5: Listening to your inner critic

Our inner dialogue is more often negative than encouraging and positive. Notice what your inner voice is telling you when you’re working on a task. It’s usually saying things like, “I’ll never get this done on time. I’m so bad at this! Why can’t I get anything right?”

Breaking the habit: Replace the negative self-talk with a positive thought and repeat it firmly in your head: “I’m going to make a success of this. I can do it and do it well. I have great skills and talent and I use them to do amazing things …” Over time, your brain will rewire yourself to repeat these positive thoughts and your inner critic will be banished.


It’s not hard to see how these habits could be why you’re not achieving the success you deserve or want.

Now that you’re aware of how they can negatively impact your life, you can take the simple measures described here to break free from their limiting effects.

Old habits will be minimised when you consistently take action to replace them with positive ones. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the change will happen.

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