8 behaviors of unsuccessful people who always fall behind in life

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I know plenty of people who have achieved success (whatever that means to each individual), but I equally know many who, as much as they want it, can’t ever seem to catch a break. 

And I’ve often thought about the reasons why some people make it in life, and some don’t. 

At first, I thought a lot of it came down to luck. And upbringing. 

But the more I research this topic, the more it becomes clear that it’s our habits, behaviors, and mindsets that make the difference.

Sure, luck and upbringing might come into it, but they’re not the defining factors when it comes to achieving success. 

So, in this article, I’ll be covering 10 behaviors of unsuccessful people who always fall behind in life.

If this reminds you of someone you know (or yourself), it’s worth paying close attention – sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact. 

1) Lack of goal-setting

You can have all the dreams in the world, but if you never sit down and make a plan of how you’re going to achieve those dreams, you’ll never reach success. 

For example, I always knew I wanted to live abroad one day. Now I’ve made it, people seem to think it was an opportunity that just landed in my lap.

What they don’t know is that, 14 years ago, when applying for university, I specifically chose a degree in something that would allow me to work anywhere in the world. I then did various training programs to learn other useful skills

And finally, once I graduated, I set myself goals, such as the amount I needed to save per year, and the time required to work in the industry to gain the relevant experience needed to move abroad. 

You see, achieving success takes time. It’s the small steps, the goals you tick off every day, and the plan that you stick to over many years that provide results. 

People who chase success without putting in the nitty-gritty work often find themselves stuck in the same place, year after year after year. 

2) Procrastination

Another common behavior of unsuccessful people is procrastination, in other words…

Getting distracted, never finishing a task, and putting work off until the last minute. 

Look, if this is something you’re guilty of, I get it. It’s not like you intentionally don’t want to work – or that you’re lazy. 

Sometimes a task is just too overwhelming. So you find yourself doing everything but the thing you need to get done. 

And by the time you do get around to it, you’re stressed out and probably running out of time. 

My advice? 

As someone who still struggles with procrastination from time to time, I find that breaking my tasks into manageable chunks really helps. 

I do the same for goal setting. Essentially, you just need to break the task down into bite-sized amounts so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed. 

Other things like leaving your phone in another room, playing calming music (search “Music for studying and concentration” on Youtube and thank me later), and setting timers will also help with procrastination. 

3) Fear of failure

I mentioned in the introduction that mindset contributes heavily to success, and perhaps one of the most important mindsets to have is viewing failure as a positive thing. 

Of course, no one enjoys it. 

But ask any successful person out there, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll say it was their failures that taught them the lessons they needed to achieve their dreams. 

I, for example, lived in Italy for some time after I graduated from university. It didn’t go well. And I can confidently say it was a “failure”. 

But at the same time, I learned so much about myself. When I came home, I reflected on what went wrong, what my role in it all was, and what I could have done better.

So, the second time an opportunity to live abroad came around, I took it, knowing that thanks to my previous failure, this time I’d have a better chance of making it work. 

But hey, similar to the advice I gave above, break it into small steps. Take little risks where if you fail, the outcome won’t be life-ruining. The more you get used to failure, the easier it’ll be to reframe the way you approach it. 

4) Negative mindset

People who write things off, or assume they can’t do something, often find that they don’t get very far in life.

We all need to have hope and a “can-do” attitude if we’re to achieve the things we really want.

Because news flash – there are always going to be obstacles. The race is never easy. But if you give up before you’ve even tried, you’ll never know how far you could have gotten. 

So, the next time you tell yourself, “I’d never be able to do that”…try changing it to, “I can’t do that yet, but I’m going to learn how”. 

Honestly, just changing the little voice in your head can make a profound difference in how you go about life. 

5) Failure to learn from mistakes

Unfortunately, people who are unsuccessful and who always fall behind tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over. 

They rarely stop to reflect, take responsibility, and make significant, meaningful changes.

It’s no good blaming everyone else. It’s useless to put it down to bad luck. 

Instead, you need to be frank with yourself. Look at what went wrong, and really think hard about it, no matter how uncomfortable it is. 

And then, rather than beat yourself up over it, make a plan to try again. This time, be conscious to avoid the pitfalls you fell into the first time. 

Remember – there’s no shame in making mistakes or failing. People respect those who are honest about their shortcomings, but who also make the effort to do better each time around. 

6) Poor time management

Ah…as a former lastminute.com girl, this one hits home! 

I never valued the importance of time management growing up. But at university, I could see how it was negatively affecting my performance.

So I learned a few techniques that could help you too:

  • Make a list of your most important tasks every day (or do it the night before to save time in the morning). DON’T make it long (I find 6-7 tasks maximum is a good amount). 
  • Prioritize doing the most important of those tasks FIRST thing in the morning while you still have energy. Then, if you don’t get around to the less important stuff, at least you’ve done the main bulk. 
  • Set timers and reminders for everything. I even set a timer for when I’m cleaning the house now – that element of competition between me and the clock makes me far more efficient (and less susceptible to procrastination). 

Try the above, even just for a day, and trust me, you’ll notice just how much more you can achieve with your time. 

7) Lack of discipline

In other words, self-control. 

That’s the little voice that tells you, “Don’t go out for ice cream right now. You’ve got a task to finish first.” 

Listen to that voice. 

I know it’s oh so easy to give in to your temptations and desires (especially living in a world of instant gratification), but in the long run, you won’t get too far with this attitude. 

Sometimes, the road to success sucks. It might mean early morning starts, late nights working, or sacrificing your social life for a while. 

But if you stay disciplined, all of the sacrifices will pay off. 

8) Resistance to change

And finally, another behavior of unsuccessful people is their resistance to anything different – AKA, change. 

For example, my husband’s family owns farms. They’re not doing very well, yet the neighboring farms are all flourishing, why? 

Because those farmers gave in to new technology. They started planting different crops. And most importantly, they were open to trying new things until they found something that worked for them. 

My husband’s family, on the other hand, won’t even consider doing something differently from the last 50 years. They’re tightly clinging to old-age traditions, and it’s severely holding them back from reaching success

So the moral of the story is:

If you want to be successful, at whatever it is, you need to be open to exploring different ways of getting there. 

If you’re constantly ruled by fear of change, fear of failure, or fear of the unknown, you’ll be doomed to stay stuck in the same place forever. 

Hopefully the tips above help you (or someone you know) in achieving more success in your life. I firmly believe that it’s the little changes we make that can make a world of difference, and if I’m capable of doing the above, there’s no reason you can’t! 

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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