Success can often seem like a mystery. We often hear about the habits that successful people cultivate, but what about the habits they avoid?
While working on a recent project, I had the chance to interview a number of highly successful people from various fields.
I was intrigued to find out that it wasn’t just their positive habits that propelled them to success.
It was also the habits they deliberately avoided that made a significant difference.
What are these habits that successful people don’t have? Let me share the top 8 daily habits I discovered through my conversations with these extraordinary individuals.
1) Hitting the snooze button
Let’s start with something that most of us are guilty of – hitting the snooze button.
I remember being curious when one of the successful entrepreneurs I interviewed mentioned how he had trained himself to get up with his first alarm. He noticed that the extra few minutes of dozing didn’t make him feel any more refreshed, but rather groggy and sluggish.
I was intrigued, so I decided to try it myself. The results were surprising.
Instead of dragging myself out of bed, I felt more alert and motivated to start my day. I was also able to start my day at the time I had planned the day before, rather than get up already feeling behind.
That’s exactly why successful people avoid the temptation of the snooze button. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you should just set a later alarm.
2) Checking social media or email first thing in the morning
Another habit that came up frequently in my conversations with highly successful individuals was avoiding the temptation to check their phones as soon as they woke up.
A tech CEO I spoke to put it succinctly: “The first thing I do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day. I want to start with something intentional and positive, not just react to what’s in my inbox or on my social feeds.”
I understood his point. In the mornings, our minds are fresh, and we have the most energy and focus for the day. Diving into the chaos of social media or the demands of email first thing can easily throw us off balance and take away our valuable focus.
By consciously choosing not to start their day with the reactive mode of emails or the mindless scrolling of social media, successful people are better able to prioritize their own goals and maintain control over their time and attention.
This small change can make a world of difference in how they navigate their day and ultimately, in their overall success.
3) Frequent snacking on unhealthy foods
You might think that people who are always on the go would rely heavily on quick, convenient snacks. But as I found out, that’s not the case.
A renowned nutritionist I interviewed mentioned how successful people prioritize their health and well-being just as much as their careers. They understand the connection between a healthy body and a sharp mind.
Eating unhealthy snacks not only adds unwanted calories but also affects energy levels, mood, and concentration. I heard examples of successful people avoiding sugary treats or salty snacks and instead opting for healthier alternatives like fruits, nuts, or yogurt.
These choices provide essential nutrients that keep energy levels stable and help maintain focus throughout the day.
4) Reacting to every notification
In our hyper-connected world, it’s easy to become a slave to our devices. One of the most eye-opening habits I discovered was the practice of ignoring notifications.
A successful entrepreneur I spoke with shared her secret: she turned off almost all notifications on her phone and checked her apps on her own terms. She’s been doing that for 2 years now, and has never once regretted it.
It’s a small change, but it had a massive impact. Instead of being constantly interrupted, she was able to concentrate on her work, interact meaningfully with others, and enjoy moments of quiet reflection. It was a strategy to reclaim her time and attention.
I was inspired to try this for myself. At first, it felt strange not to be immediately alerted to every new message or update. But soon, I noticed a sense of calm and focus I hadn’t experienced in years.
The lesson here is simple but powerful. Successful people understand that their time and attention are their most valuable resources. By not reacting to every notification, they’re able to use these resources more effectively and efficiently.
5) Putting off unpleasant tasks
Procrastination is a familiar habit for many of us, especially when it comes to tasks we’d rather avoid. But as I learned, successful people have a different approach.
One CEO I interviewed, who is known for her exceptional time management skills, shared an intriguing strategy. She tackled the least pleasant tasks on her to-do list first thing in the morning.
At first, I was skeptical. Who wants to start their day with the most disagreeable tasks?
But she explained that by addressing these challenges head-on, she not only got them out of the way but also felt a sense of accomplishment that set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
I decided to give it a try, and to my surprise, it worked. The tasks I’d been dreading didn’t seem so overwhelming once I faced them head-on.
By completing them first thing, I no longer had them hanging over my head, which allowed me to focus better on other responsibilities. And, in many cases, I found they’re not as intimidating as they seemed.
6) Frequent multitasking
Do you believe that multitasking makes you faster and more productive?
I used to believe this myself, until I realized that successful people avoid this habit like the plague.
A neuroscientist I interviewed mentioned that while multitasking might feel efficient, it actually slows us down. “Our brains are not wired for multitasking,” he explained. “When we switch from one task to another, it takes time for our brains to refocus, which leads to lost time and decreased productivity.”
Several successful individuals I spoke with agreed on the importance of single-tasking, or focusing on one thing at a time.
In fact, an award-winning author told me that he attributes much of his success to this habit. By immersing himself fully in one task, he was able to produce high-quality work at a faster pace.
It can be difficult at first to resist the urge to check email or respond to messages while working on a project. But as you practice changing this habit, you’ll get more done and see the quality of your work improve as well.
Gossiping might seem like harmless banter, but it can have surprisingly negative consequences for your relationships and your career.
One highly successful executive I spoke with had a strict policy of not engaging in gossip. “I never participate in discussions that involve talking about someone who isn’t present,” she told me. “It doesn’t add value, and it can only harm my relationships and reputation.”
Firstly, because you never know if what you say may get back to the person you talked about. As you can imagine, they probably won’t be too happy about it.
And secondly, if you gossip, you tell the people you gossip to that you don’t respect people’s privacy, or necessarily talk about them in a good light. So how do they know you won’t do the same to them?
When you cut this habit out, people in your social circles will see you as someone with integrity and who they can trust.
You’ll build a network around you of people who choose to engage in constructive conversations — which is much more helpful to helping you build success.
8) Negative self-talk
Is negative self-talk really a daily habit? Unfortunately, for many people, it is — and they don’t even realize it.
If you’re one of these people, then hopefully this will convince you to stop, because it is a major roadblock to achieving success.
Negative self-talk can be subtle but damaging. It can manifest as internal dialogue like “I’m not good enough,” “I can’t do this,” or “I’ll never achieve my goals.” When we fall into this pattern, we may undermine our own efforts, erode our self-confidence, and limit our potential.
Successful people avoid this pitfall by practicing positive self-talk. They replace negative statements with constructive and affirming thoughts, reminding themselves of their strengths, accomplishments, and capabilities.
They also understand the value of self-forgiveness when they make mistakes.
Developing this habit not only boosts your self-esteem but also helps you approach challenges with a more optimistic and resilient mindset, enhancing your chances of success.
Becoming your most successful self
Now you know the top 8 daily habits that highly successful people don’t have.
Some of them might surprise you, others might feel like common sense — but all of them are crucial to cut out of your daily routine if you want to live up to your full potential.
I hope you had just as much fun learning about these habits as I had interviewing the people who told me about them.
And now, it’s time for you to take action and help yourself become your best self!