If you really want to get ahead in life, ditch these 18 habits now

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There’s no better time than today to think about the bad habits that get in the way of your visions and goals.

Achieving a healthier, happier, and more successful you requires unlearning and changing specific behaviors.

I know, it’s easier said than done. But it’s all worth it in the long run. I’ll give you a head start by helping you identify the habits that you need to ditch now to get ahead in life.

Let’s dive in!

1) Neglecting your health

You won’t make progress on any of your goals if you always put your health on the back burner.

Not taking care of your body can lead to serious consequences like stress, weight gain, and heart disease. The bottomline: An unhealthy lifestyle impairs your ability to function at your best.

The good news is, there are simple ways to prioritize self-care:

  • Go for walks every day. 
  • Plan nutritious meals. 
  • Establish a bedtime routine to get enough sleep.

2) Saying ‘yes’ to everyone and everything

You can’t be everything to everyone. It’s a recipe for burnout. It’s ok to say ‘no’ to opportunities, tasks, activities, and requests that don’t support your goals.

Here’s the deal: One of the kindest things you can do for yourself and others is to create and maintain healthy boundaries.

Set yourself up for success by focusing your time and energy on things that matter most.

3) Being ‘on’ all the time

If you think that busyness is key to productivity and success? Think again. On the contrary, living in overdrive is a self-sabotaging habit that contributes to an unhealthy, unhappy life.

Being intentional about taking regular breaks and slowing down will help you power through your day. 

Don’t disregard the valuable physical and mental benefits of solitude and idleness. Take a few minutes of downtime so you can relax and connect with yourself. 

4) Striving for perfection

How long have you been wearing the “I am a perfectionist” badge? Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have high standards for yourself. But at what cost?

Repeat after me: “I am good enough. I can start small and grow from there.”

You don’t have to wait for the perfect idea or perfect moment. Take every opportunity you can to learn and improve. Stay motivated by aiming for progress, not perfection.

5) Being afraid of failure

What’s a surefire way to kill success? Allowing the fear of failure to become ingrained.

The thing is, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. At some point, you’re going to face a lot of challenges and setbacks. Ultimately, you will fail.

But you don’t have to let failure define you. The key is to not let failure prevent you from taking action and moving forward. 

When you fail, learn from the experience, get back up, and try again. 

6) Not speaking your mind

Here’s one thing that most people learn the hard way: You won’t live the life you want if you hold back from saying your truth.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. It takes a lot of courage to speak up in many areas of our lives — from our family and friends to our relationships, work, and in general.

But practicing authentic, transparent, and vulnerable communication not only liberates you, but also brings you closer to other people. 

7) Being negative

Picture this: You worked hard on a project, but your boss still isn’t satisfied. You start to doubt yourself. Before you know it, you’re already on a downward spiral into negativity.

Taming your inner critic is never easy. But if you let these negative thoughts take over, it may undermine your self-worth.

Break this cycle of negative self-talk by recognizing your triggers. Reframe your thinking and challenge every negative notion that pops into your head.

8) Whining

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to get frustrated or to vent when you don’t get what you want or when things don’t go as planned.

But constantly complaining and whining about a situation isn’t going to change anything. It will only make things worse.

Try this: Be proactive instead of reactive. Weigh your options and think about what your next best course of action is. Focus on the things you can change, and let go of those that you have no control over.

9) Spending time with toxic people

Take a hard look at the people in your inner circle. Do they have their passions? Do they inspire and push you to be better? 

Or do they drag you down with their issues, insecurities, and negativity?

The people we hang around with the most can greatly influence how we look at life and the world — and ultimately, who we become. 

Choose wisely and surround yourself with people who also embody success.

10) Constantly comparing yourself to others

Ah, the comparison trap. It’s a miserable state to be in. And it also distracts you from focusing on the bigger picture. 

You will never be truly happy if you’re always finding what you have that is better or worse than someone else. 

Don’t compete with anyone. Run your own race. Learn to love the things that make you unique. Celebrate those victories, big and small.

Refocus your energy on becoming a better version of yourself.

11) Seeking validation from others

Let’s face it: It feels good to be liked. We want to be acknowledged for all the great things we do.

But when you’re driven by what other people think of you, it can backfire and do more harm than good.

Many people will like you, and many others won’t. You won’t always get approval from those around you.

The only sense of accomplishment you need is the one you give yourself. 

12) Being addicted to your smartphone and social media

If your phone is the first thing you reach for in the morning, then it’s a tiny yet harmful habit you need to break right away.

Technology is a double-edged sword — it saves us a lot of time and makes our lives so efficient, but it also takes away precious time and distracts us from the things that keep us happy and healthy.

Make technology work for you, not against you. Start by limiting your screen time and turning off notifications.

13) Multitasking

You probably know that multitasking takes a huge toll on productivity. Research also suggests that not only does multitasking harm performance, but it may also affect your brain health.

Take more control of your life and make wiser decisions every day by rethinking the way you work. Be fully present and committed to one task at a time so you can achieve more without the added stress.

In other words, work smarter, not harder

14) Procrastinating

How many times have you waited until the last minute to do something either boring or challenging? 

The costs of procrastinating outweigh the benefits. You may feel good after putting off something at the moment, but it often leads to anxiety, shame, and regret.

The best way to deal with it is to take action, no matter how small. Any kind of progress matters.

15) Undersaving and overspending

Ask yourself: Are you spending more money than you realize? Do you have an accurate sense of where your money goes?

Learning money management early on and taking ownership of your money habits will help you attain financial independence and freedom. 

Start by keeping track of your money, identifying what you need to cut back on, and saving for important things you’ll need in the future.

16) Thinking you’ve got everything figured out

The reality is, you don’t. If you let your arrogance and ego get in the way, you’ll end up being complacent and passive.

Never stop being curious. Keep an open mind and ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. Start each day with the excitement that you’re going to learn something new. 

Seek diversity. Open yourself up to new worlds and possibilities.

17) Not taking responsibility for your mistakes

It can be incredibly painful to take ownership of our missteps. But it’s the right thing to do.

Blaming others for your mistakes is a destructive habit that ruins your reputation and relationships.

View it this way: If you make it a habit to be accountable for your actions and decisions, no matter the consequences, then you’ll learn important lessons that lead to growth.

You’ll also earn the respect and admiration of people.

18) Having a fixed mindset

If you develop a growth mindset, you’ll keep yourself ahead of the game. That’s because it’s an invaluable asset that cultivates resilience.

Instead of thinking that intelligence, abilities, and talents are fixed traits, start believing that there’s always room for improvement.

Shift from an “I’ve never been good enough” perspective to an “I can practice until I am capable” mindset.

You can persevere and learn from any challenge or difficult situation. You can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.

Maria Fatima Reyes

Fat Niebres is a freelance writer who loves to chase stories that matter. She finds meaning and inspiration in the mundane. When she's not writing, she's probably reading, eating, traveling, or having deep conversations with her husband. She brings her experience in broadcast, print, and NGO communications, and has been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net.

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