When it comes to “achieving success,” the hardest thing for people to wrap their heads around tends to be the idea that small wins add up to big victories. It’s a whole lot easier to imagine the end goal, the big celebration than to think about each tiny step along the way it will take to get there.
But once you’ve walked that path, once you’ve seen and experienced first hand how it’s the small things you do, day after day after day, that lead to the end result, your thinking is forever changed. You couldn’t go back if you tried. And your focus suddenly is no longer on the daydream at the end, but the little habits you can set in stone today that will lay the necessary groundwork for that destination to manifest on its own.
There’s a great post on Medium that covers this, but I wanted to adapt the list there and give my own thoughts on this topic. If you want to create positive daily habits in your life, then you’ll need to remove some negative ones to make room. The sooner you can ditch these 12 destructive habits, the faster you will find yourself on the path to success.
1. Eating a sugar-filled breakfast.
Nothing gives you a quicker burst of energy and a quicker crash than sugar. If you are one of those people who eat a big helping of fruit for breakfast, no wonder you’re chugging coffee two hours later to stay awake. Keep sugars in your diet to a minimum, and retrain your body to find energy in longer-lasting carbohydrates (like oatmeal) for breakfast.
I did an experiment with myself recently. Every morning for a week I would watch TV while I ate breakfast, and then compared that with how I felt listening to classical music and reading a book every morning with my breakfast. The difference was astonishing. The week of TV left me feeling groggy and deflated. The week of reading alongside classical music had my brain overflowing with ideas. I highly recommend the latter.
3. Always showing up late.
One of my old co-workers lived by the phrase “If you’re on time, you’re late.” He’s right. If you are always showing up right on the dot, or worse, after the dot, then you are setting a poor precedent for yourself. Besides, you will be far more effective when you have 5-10 minutes to mentally prepare ahead of time.
4. Hitting the snooze alarm.
Each night, when you set your alarm for the next morning, you are making a promise to yourself. You are saying, “I promise to wake up at this time and start my day with energy and excitement.” And then your alarm goes off, you rub your eyes, look at the clock, and decide to hit snooze. You are breaking your first promise of the day before you’ve even gotten out of bed. Don’t do that. It’s bad for morale.
5. Not eating lunch.
The people who go all day and don’t eat end up leaving work exhausted, “hangry,” and much more willing to succumb to other equally unhealthy habits. It’s important, no matter how busy you are, for you to take time to keep your body and mind working effectively.
6. Saying yes to things you don’t actually want to do.
Your gut is telling you no, so why aren’t you listening?
7. Trying to do too many things at once.
There is no such thing as multitasking–this is something I write about a lot. You can truly do only one thing at a time, and by splitting your focus and trying to do two things simultaneously, you end up doing yourself a disservice. As the old adage goes, “Chase two rabbits, lose both.”
8. Constantly checking your phone.
You know that feeling where you think your phone just vibrated in your pocket, but it really didn’t? That’s a habit–and it’s a habit because we are constantly on the lookout for a distraction. Try to keep the phone-checking to a minimum. You don’t need to refresh your email every 37 seconds.
9. “Hanging out.”
It’s a simple question of what you really want in life. I can tell you, “hanging out” with people has become a luxury–similar to a glass of wine. It’s not intended to be had on a daily basis. It’s supposed to be enjoyed, intentionally. If you have big goals, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but time spent “just hanging out” with people needs to be kept to a minimum. Find people you want to spend time with because you’re both working toward similar goals.
10. Blaming people instead of taking accountability.
Blaming other people does you no good. It removes or postpones your asking the right questions for you to learn your own lessons and move forward effectively. Instead, point the finger at yourself and look for ways you could have handled things better and how you can improve for next time.
11. Staying stuck in the “go” mentality.
Too many people view time off and self-reflection as a waste of time. They feel like they always need to be going or working on something. Now, I am all for goal setting and pushing yourself to become the best at whatever it is you do, but do remember the clarity that comes with self-reflection. Sometimes, one step back is what you need to do to move five steps forward.
12. Spending unnecessary money.
I’m sorry, but if you are buying tables at clubs (especially if you are still knee-deep in your building years) or using spending as a foundation for your self-worth, then you are on the fast track to unhappiness. Real wealth is built through saving and investing–not blowing it as fast as you acquire it. Be a boss. Stack, invest, stack, invest.