10 habits unsuccessful people have in common

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Success is pretty subjective, but whether you’re trying to get rich, build a stable life, or complete your first marathon, some habits might be holding you back. 

And they’re more common than you may realize. 

Things like putting off tasks, having a negative attitude, and shying away from stepping out of your comfort zone can all lead you to stay stagnant. 

So, in this article, I’ll be covering 10 habits unsuccessful people have in common, with guidance on how to turn each of these habits around for a more successful future. 

Let’s dive in: 

1) Procrastination

I am the queen of procrastination. When it comes to finishing a task, suddenly, cleaning my keyboard seems necessary. Or washing my hair. Or ordering cat food. 

But here’s the thing:

When you procrastinate, you end up rushing through work, not completing it to the best of your ability. 

This is something most unsuccessful people have in common. 

But contrary to popular belief – if you suffer from procrastination, you may not be “lazy”…you might just feel overwhelmed. 

Break your work into bite-sized chunks. Set timers. Only tackle one thing at a time. 

That should help overcome procrastination

2) Lack of discipline

Successful people tend to be extremely disciplined. If they want to run a marathon, they’ll force themselves to be up at 6 a.m. just to get practice runs in before work.

On the other hand, unsuccessful people might keep snoozing that alarm. 

I get it though, people who have self-discipline make it look so easy. Like they’re born with it.

But in reality, most have had to work hard at it. 

For example, I have a friend who has been studying law intensely for the past 10 years (don’t ask me what for, I can never remember the job she’s going for, but it’s a high-ranking position). 

To pass the exams, she needs to study 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. 

I asked her how she does it, and she said:

“The most important thing is to create a routine and stick to it. Also, time management tools can help keep you focused and on track.”

3) Spreading themselves thin

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about unsuccessful people (including myself, in the past), it’s taking on too many tasks or projects at the same time. 

My husband, for example, is guilty of this. 

He’ll start learning to code a website, and halfway through decide to get into the fruit import industry. Before he’s even learned that, he’ll have taken on a new project doing something in marketing. 

It’s great that he’s open to trying different things and learning new skills, but there’s a major problem with this:

You never pour all your attention and focus into one thing. 

And that’s essential if you want to be successful.

4) Poor time management

Struggle to finish your daily tasks? 

Often late to meetings? 

Time management can be tough, especially since most of us are leading pretty busy lives. We’re constantly juggling multiple things at one go. 

I’ve often found that it’s a lack of planning that leads to poor time management

If you struggle with this, I highly recommend sitting down on a Sunday evening and planning out your week. 

Prioritize the most important tasks first, and you can even give yourself an estimate of how long each thing will take to complete. 

This way, while you’re working, you can be mindful of the time. 

5) Negative mindset

Here’s a scenario for you:

Two people both apply for a job. Neither of them get it. They’re both told they need more experience. 

Person A thinks to themselves: “What a load of crap. How am I meant to get experience if no one will hire me? This is just pointless. I don’t know why I bother.” 

Person B thinks to themselves: “Alright, a little setback but nothing I can’t overcome. I’m going to look for an apprenticeship or online course that can give me the skills I need. In 1 year, I’m going to apply again and get this job!” 

I think it’s pretty obvious who the successful person will be in this situation. 

You see, a negative attitude can completely wipe you of motivation. However, successful people know that reaching their goals requires perseverance and a “can do” attitude. 

You only need to Google the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and other extremely successful people to see how they’ve overcome setbacks in their careers

6) Blaming others

You miss a deadline…do you:

  • Take full responsibility and learn from it
  • Blame your colleague for not reminding you to get it done

If it’s the second, I’m afraid to say, you’re holding yourself back! 

And this goes for most unsuccessful people

There’s a ton of value in taking accountability when you mess up. 

For one, other people respect you more. 

But more importantly, you learn from your mistakes. 

You’re much less likely to make them again when you own up, reflect on your behavior, and rectify the situation. 

7) Fear of taking risks

Another thing unsuccessful people have in common is a fear of putting themselves out there. Of getting vulnerable and stepping outside of their comfort zones

When a new opportunity comes up, you might find yourself thinking, “Oh no, there’s no way I could do that.” 

This ties in with the negative thinking I spoke about earlier. 

On the other hand, successful people see risks as an exciting opportunity to explore the unknown. 

Quite often, there’s money to be made there, since most people won’t jump at such an opportunity. 

So, what can you do to become more of a risk-taker? 

Start small. Take calculated risks and work your way up. Consult with people who you aspire to be like. They can often give you good advice about which risks are worth it and which aren’t.

Eventually, you’ll start to identify these opportunities and allow your gut feeling to guide you. 

8) Short-term focus

Successful people think long-term. Unsuccessful people tend to want to make a quick buck now but don’t look towards the future. 

I understand that – you need money right now to be able to do other things later down the line. 

But this doesn’t lead to long-term success. 

Instead, take a leaf out of how successful people stick to their goals.

They’ll think about them carefully and write them down. Some even put them in visible places, like on their office wall or as their screensaver. 

Keep referring to your long-term goals, while also setting smaller short-term goals. 

This way you can create a balance between winning small, immediate successes, but also keep planning for the future. 

9) Lack of adaptability

When you’re hit with a bump in the road, do you throw your hands up in the air and give up? 

Or look for an alternative way to reach your goal?

If you resonate more with the first point, that could be a reason why you’re unsuccessful. 

You see, anything worth doing requires flexibility and adaptability. 

Life isn’t always going to work out smoothly, so you need to be ready to change course, re-plan, and take different approaches. 

Successful people are good at this. They don’t let these hiccups put them off. 

Instead, they look for other ways to achieve their goals, even if it means changing their original plan or learning new skills. 

10) Poor social skills

And finally, another habit unsuccessful people have in common is poor social skills. 

Now, I will caveat that not everyone suffers from this. My husband, who I mentioned earlier, has excellent social skills. He just can’t focus on one thing at a time. 

But if you do think your conversational skills could do with some brushing up, I suggest learning about active listening. This guide will explain more.

You see, when you know how to listen properly, you’re able to respond more effectively. 

This will help when collaborating with others, or if you have a team of your own. 

You could also take courses on how to improve your public speaking skills – this would be highly beneficial when conducting presentations or pitching your ideas. 

So, which of the tips above will you be working on?

The great thing about life is that with a little bit of willpower, you can go from being unsuccessful to successful. It just takes determination and perseverance! 

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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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