14 habits of unsuccessful people who remain stagnant in life

Life is all about movement and change. 

No matter how slowly you move or how easy-going your goals are, evolution is a natural part of the journey. 

But certain people never seem to evolve. They get stuck somewhere along the way with a failure to launch. 

They get “lost in rock formations, or became park bench mutations,” as Neil Young memorably phrased it in 1979.

By looking at the habits of those who get stuck, we can ensure that our own bumps in the road don’t become permanent. That’s why I’ve put together this look at the top habits that keep some people stagnant and stuck in a holding pattern. 

1) Procrastinating and avoiding taking risks

There are times when it’s necessary to take a risk – or at least a big chance – if you want to see a change. 

Those who get stuck in stagnant situations often procrastinate and try to play it overly safe. 

They wait for the ideal conditions to arrive or a lucky break, but it doesn’t come. Why is nothing happening?

Because they’re playing it too safe and adopting the mentality of a passive recipient instead of an active creator. 

2) Winging it and going with the flow

It’s crucial for somebody to know what they want before setting out to achieve it.

Far too many talented and enthusiastic individuals end up staying stuck or moving backwards into old patterns and disappointments because they don’t plan. 

They try to “go with the flow” and see where life leads them. They wait to see how they feel tomorrow. 

But in ten years they’re still waiting and they’re desperately searching for a job to even put a roof over their head, because they winged it a little too much. 

3) Complacency and apathy 

Speaking of going with the flow too much, we get to apathy and complacency. 

Not freaking out is a great thing, but those who never get very worked up and are always cool as a cucumber end up being their own worst enemy. 

Some situations require an adrenaline jolt, a shout of outrage or a concerted effort of blood, sweat and tears. 

Sitting back and passively judging everything as “it is what it is” often ends up being the death knell on many people’s forward growth. 

4) Fearing failure more than craving success

The fear of failure or wasting one’s effort and energy is a legitimate fear. 

But it must be outweighed by the excitement and anticipation of success and working towards goals. 

Those who stay stuck in place often let the fear win out, and listen to their inner critic and inner doomsday prophet far too often. It tells them they’d better hedge their bets and not step too far out of line. It tells them to play it cool and watch out for all the bad things that could happen. 

So they end up not following their dreams and thinking small. And that has consequences. 

This brings up the next point. 

5) Listening to negative self-talk

Many people are born with an ankle around their weights: 

This ankle is negative talk from parents and authority figures that they absorbed while young; a feeling that they have to “earn” affection and approval, or being surrounded by constant anxiety and negativity. 

This has serious and dire effects! 

When that parental and societal negative self talk becomes habitual, it can become the inner critic, always undermining somebody every step of the way. 

The problem in this case is that even when they do make progress and accomplish things, this person feels like a loser, and usually ends up self-sabotaging or hiding away in stagnancy after one or two achievements. 

6) Seeking validation and people pleasing

Those who center their well-being outside of themselves are often setting themselves up for failure. 

It’s a sad fact that the more somebody has a deep inner doubt about their value, the more people will take advantage of them, scam them or get tired of them. 

It’s one of the saddest things to see in life, but those who spend their time trying to please others and be approved of are often those who end up alone and feeling the most unloved. 

7) Playing the victim and blaming others

A lot that happens in life isn’t our fault. This is true. 

But those who end up stuck or fall far below their potential often get stuck in a victim mindset

Right or wrong, they focus on how unfairly they’ve been treated and the bad cards they have been dealt. They feel like they haven’t had a fair shake in life and have been somehow cursed. 

Sadly, this often has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

8) Lack of desire to learn new things

Those who don’t want to learn new things, don’t grow. 

It’s really as simple as that. 

Whether it’s in a career, a relationship or just a new social group, people who make a habit of complacency end up getting their wish:

Things stay the same and you might as well just hit the replay button over and over. 

Because real change, evolution and transformation isn’t going to happen.

This also ties directly into the next point:

9) Staying narrow-minded and dismissing new ideas

Having strong beliefs, traditions and anchors for life is a great thing. 

But an openness to at least considering and hearing out other perspectives is a must for growth

They may end up being considered bullshit, but those who block their ears and don’t want to talk to the “other side” or “those people” usually end up becoming quite boring. 

They live in an echo chamber of others who think like them and stay locked off from entire avenues of opportunity, growth and other relationships in their life. 

10) Throwing in the towel after a major failure or setback

None of us like failure. Sometimes it doesn’t even have a lesson to teach and it just plain sucks. 

But those who stay stuck after a failure are those who tend to take it personally or take it as a sign that they’re not going to make it. 

They read too much into failure, adding it to the long line of past disappointments and throwing their hands in the air. 

They end up letting failure have the final word, instead of their own determination and pure grit to continue despite the shit that life, love and fate throws their way. 

11) Leading a self-indulgent and unhealthy lifestyle

The habits we do every day are what build us into the person we become. 

Many folks who stay stuck in life are doing a lot right. They have heart. They have big dreams. They have friends, family who love them, opportunities and health. 

But they don’t have good habits. 

They eat whatever they want, rarely exercise, get lost in the party life and using various substances, don’t consume high-quality content in the media and so on. 

They stuff themselves with junk and then end up getting sidetracked. 

12) High expectations and a delusion of entitlement 

Life doesn’t owe us. The fact any of us are alive is something of a miracle to start with. 

Many of those who end up stuck in life feel like they are owed one. 

Because of suffering they didn’t deserve or their own talents, looks or any other factor, they sit back and hold their hand out:


But life, and other people, just continue on their merry way. 

And that person stays there with their hand out, getting angrier and angrier. Not a good look. 

13) Disempowering financial beliefs and habits

Financial habits and beliefs make a big difference in life. 

Money isn’t inherently bad or good: it’s a tool. It all depends what we use it for. 

Those who end up chasing money as a source of happiness or associating it with extreme struggle, jealousy or suffering, often end up in very bad financial situations. 

Other things like reckless overspending, freeloading or habits of never spending money and hoarding can also become very self-limiting. 

Money can be momentum. When somebody’s got problems with their cheddar, it can often lead to wider problems in their life and future evolution, too. 

14) Refusing to take responsibility 

Earlier I wrote about those who get stuck in the victim mindset. 

This is on a related note but can be for any number of reasons: it could be that this person just wants to “enjoy life” or believes that people take life too seriously. 

Honestly, sometimes that’s absolutely true. 

But on the other hand sometimes people don’t take life seriously enough. And especially in situations where other people depend on somebody and their resources and care, taking responsibility is necessary. 

That’s why those who always shirk responsibility often get their wish: no responsibility, and no real evolution or growth in life. 

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