They say that history is written by the winners, and there’s truth in that. We are obsessed about how we can ‘hack’ our way to success in life, so we cram our bookshelves and Kindle with self-help books and constantly seek out tips that would help rocket us to success. How to be more productive? What are the 7 habits of highly effective people?  We listen in to Ted talks by successful businessmen, hoping to become the next Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. But what if the trick to attaining success isn’t just about what you do, but also what you don’t?

Here are 7 habits of ineffective people that you should steer clear of (or work on eliminating):

1. They are easily distracted

Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Think about all the successful people you do know of in your circle. Do they tend to flit from one task or one idea to another, or do they have the ability to see a project from start to end before moving on to something else?

With so much to do and so little time, we tend to think of multi-tasking as the solution that will allow us to accomplish more things. However, studies have shown that multitasking actually deteriorates our work performance and quality.

It is easy to pick up something new and novel- but it takes disciplined to stay on track and see it to the end. This is the only way to make sure that you don’t end up being a Jack of all trades, Master of none.

2. They are jealous of others’ success

You may not know it, but jealousy comes in different forms. Unfortunately, we aren’t always great at identifying it in ourselves.

When you are jealous of someone, you would often scrutinise them for any signs of flaws and, once you find one, you will cling on to it in order to feel better about yourself. According to the self-evaluation maintenance model in psychology,  people feel most threatened by the success of those who are close to them, as that often calls their own life choices and achievements into question. This leads people to sometimes distance themselves from the subject of their jealousy, or even try to bring that person down to temporarily boost their own self-esteem. This is often why we tend to judge people even without fully knowing them.

The problem is, when you are overly fixated on someone else’s success and comparing yourself with them, you’re depriving yourself of the opportunity to work on your own personal growth.

Instead of getting envious of what someone else has in their life, get inspired into making positive changes in your own instead.

3. They see only what they want to see

There is a concept in Cognitive Psychology called ‘confirmation bias’, and that is when someone looks for evidence and facts that support their own argument or beliefs. The danger of seeing only what we want to see is that it can cause us to be blind to our own weaknesses.

We grow by overcoming challenges and learning to change our mindset for the better.If you are constantly surrounding yourself with ‘yes people’ who will agree with what you say, or ignoring facts that contradict your beliefs, there’s little to no room for you to learn and grow.

4. They don’t set realistic goals

man holding head in between hands by the window

It’s one thing to say that you want to achieve something, but it’s another to craft realistic goals and plans that will help you to attain it. We all have dreams and desires of what we wish would happen, but when the goals you set are way out of your capability to achieve it, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

With repeated failure, you run the risk of developing another bad habit that would set you back: making excuses for your repeated failures. It is crucial to get real with yourself and ask if your goals are grounded in reality.

For the goals you have to be of any consequence at all, they need to be SMART- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Find out how you can master the art of setting goals in this article.

5. They spend more time talking than doing

How often have you heard a friend talking about the latest grandiose plan or new startup idea that they have – only for it to never materialise?

Studies show that when you spend  too much time talking about your goals and plans, it actually reduces your motivation to actually attain them. This is because when you make a grand proclamation (such as “I’m going to run a marathon for charity”),  people will praise you and give you a pat on the back for your intent.

Marwa Azab, Professor of Psychology at California State University says: “When we publicize our goal intentions, and others acknowledge the awesomeness of such “potential” changes, we get our dopamine reward all at once. The more others admire our goals, the more dopamine rush we get, and the less likely we are to execute the future necessary actions to implement them.”

In essence: Focus on doing what you need to instead of talking about it.

6. They procrastinate

Calendar with yellow highlighted days

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Studies have shown that people who are prone to anxiety tend to procrastinate. But with every task that you put off, it only causes your anxiety to grow. So what do you do? You ignore the chores that need to be done in the house, the work that’s piling up on your desk, the taxes that you know need to be filed – and you go try a new hobby, read a new book, work on a NEW task, hang out with your friends, or start watching a new Netflix series.

It is easy to put off what’s necessary and to do what’s exciting- but that’s not going to get you anywhere. If you struggle to stay on top of your tasks without putting things off, you need to start working on overcoming procrastination.

7. They blame everything and everybody else for their failure

“It wasn’t my fault”, “I didn’t have a choice” are what you’d often hear unsuccessful people say. We aren’t in control of many things that happen in my life, but we do have control over how we choose to react to it. You can choose to play victim and blame the world for all your problems, or you can take accountability for what you want to achieve and start finding solutions for your problems.

Life can be frustrating, sure. But ranting and raving about the things in our life isn’t going to solve anything or do you any good. Hold yourself accountable to your words and thoughts, and work on avoiding or eliminating the above habits – and you will find yourself leading a much more fruitful life.

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