If you feel like a failure, say goodbye to these 13 habits

Do you feel like a total failure sometimes? 

Like, no matter how hard you try, you’re still not achieving your goals? You still don’t have the 1 million savings or the 5-bedroom apartment after years of hustling hard?

Let me tell you this: You’re probably being too hard on yourself. Well, it’s definitely not healthy.

And, you know what? Thinking this way doesn’t increase your chances of success. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

So if you truly want success, you have to stop seeing yourself as a failure.


Start by saying goodbye to these habits.

1) Thinking negative thoughts first thing in the morning

Pay attention to your thoughts the moment you wake up. 

Do thoughts like “Ugh, I wake up so late that’s why I’m such a loser” enter your mind without much effort?

Are you flooded with thoughts of despair, self-loathing, and guilt even before 7am?

You’re in a constant fight or flight mode, and it’s become so normal for you that you have these thoughts the moment you wake up. 

This can greatly affect your mental health and view on yourself if you won’t learn to tame your overly critical inner voice.

So, what to do?

Start by being more aware of your thoughts. 

Try to slowly replace negative thoughts with positive ones through reciting morning affirmations or writing a gratitude list. This one habit can dramatically change the tone of your day.

2) Hanging out with overly critical people

Do your parents make you feel like a failure? Detach for a while. Don’t even feel guilty for it.

Do some colleagues belittle you and not recognize your efforts? Don’t hang out with them and just focus on your job.

Being exposed to overly critical people will have negative effects on your self-esteem. 

You might already be great at something but you’ll not know it if you often hear others’ negative opinions about you and your work.

So if you currently feel like a failure, do yourself a favor and stay away from negative people for a while.

3) Seeking approval

Let’s face it—we need some kind of validation from others because we are relational beings.

As Milan Kundera once said, we all need someone to look at us—whether it’s the eyes of the public, the eyes of a few people we admire, the eyes of the beloved, and the imaginary eyes.

So yes, it’s normal to want to hear “Great work!” or “I admire you”, but the moment that it becomes a goal, you’ll start to feel like a failure when you don’t actually get them. 

Instead of pursuing validation and approval from other people, just focus on making one person happy— YOURSELF.

4) Setting unrealistic goals

If you want to be a millionaire in two years and you’re still not planting the seeds now, then you’re definitely overdoing it with your goals. Unless you get so lucky or you rob a bank, the chances of you achieving it would be close to zero.

You see, while it’s great to dream big and aim high, sometimes it just does more harm than good.

It can make one feel like a failure when it’s not achieved. 

The right approach to setting goals?

Make them SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Because they have to be realistic and achievable, there will be less disappointments.

5) Always moving the goalpost

Have you heard of the goal post syndrome? 

It’s when you NEVER achieve your goals because once you’re about to reach them, you move the goalposts just a bit more…and a bit more…and a bit more.

And, as crazy as it sounds, this can make you feel like a total failure.

Resist the urge to move the goalpost because you deserve to feel like you’re a success.

So if you say “I will run 5km this week,” don’t change it to 8km or 10km when you’re about to achieve it. Instead, go reach that 5km and be proud of yourself. Period.

Because if you keep moving the goal post, not only are you not honoring your wins, you’ll also likely have a burnout.

6) Normalizing wins

When you achieve something, do you say “Nah, it’s nothing!” or “Well, of course, it’s so easy!”?

Well, you might just be your own worst enemy because you minimize your wins.

Why don’t you celebrate your wins instead? Even if they are “small” to you, why don’t you allow yourself to bask in success? Are you worried your successes are not big enough?

Well…why do you have to achieve something grand for you to be proud of yourself?

Don’t minimize your wins. For the love of all that is holy, acknowledge and celebrate them when they happen!

7) Paying too much attention to other people’s lives 

Even if we just “innocently” look at other people’s lives out of curiosity, it will still have an effect on us.

Seeing other people going places, literally and figuratively, can make us wonder “But what about me?”, especially if we’re not feeling too good about ourselves in the first place.

This is why social media makes people unhappy.

Nothing wrong about envy per se. It’s just human nature.

But why torture yourself?

If you want to stop feeling like a failure, stop checking social media for a while. Work on yourself instead—from your actual life goals to your self-confidence to your mental health.

8) Thinking that success only means money

Many of us think that success is all about having money. After all, it can’t be denied—money can give us security and comfort.

But as cliche as it may sound, money isn’t everything (well, so long as you’re not broke). 

Many rich people are still unhappy despite having everything money can buy.

So yes, you are still a success even if you’re not rich but you’re able to form good relationships, if you love yourself, if you have time to do your hobbies, if you’re able to maintain good health.

Money doesn’t guarantee happiness and it’s just one form of success. So while you work on being financially successful (we all should), don’t forget that you have many other forms of successes, too.

9) Not considering your limitations

Financial gurus tell us that we can achieve anything…that if we only believe strongly enough and work hard enough, we can achieve whatever we set our mind to.

But, let’s be real—that’s BS. Well, kinda.

Self-confidence and having a positive mindset can do wonders, for sure. But there are many factors that can affect one’s success.

Yes, it’s valid that you still haven’t started a company because you’re too depressed to even get out of bed. Yes, it’s valid that you’re still not writing your novel because you’re too broke and therefore too tired and stressed to have the headspace to write.

We should all acknowledge our limitations.

We shouldn’t ignore or dismiss them—and consider them as excuses— because they’re legit reasons for not achieving success at the same rate as someone who’s born rich and healthy.

Cut yourself some slack. You’re trying hard already and you’re doing more than enough. 

Work on success at your own pace.

10) Thinking that it’s all too late

With the glorification of young entrepreneurs and young artists, it’s normal to feel like it’s all too late once you hit 30.

But this is silly because, for example, the average age of startup success is 45. It’s too vain to think that you’ll achieve success before 30. Only very few people can achieve that.

This mindset of thinking it’s too late is the number one success killer. Because…why would you even do your best if you KNOW it’s already too late? Why would you even bother if you’re already a failure?

Stop looking at the 1% who got successful at a very young age and start looking at the 99% who get successful only after 35. You might even find inspiration in people who became highly successful after age 40.

11) Being judgmental 

The people who are overly critical and judgmental towards others are some of the bitterest, most self-critical people around.

So if you always look at other people and think “Are they a winner or a loser?”, then chances are you’re doing this to yourself as well.

It’s not easy to just stop being judgmental. But it can be done.

12) Delaying things

Waking up late and procrastinating can make us feel awful.

It makes us feel bad about ourselves for not having the self-discipline to actually manage our time. And this can give us a feeling that we’ll never become successful.

While submitting work on time, waking up early, and having good time-management do NOT automatically lead one to success, they at least make us feel like we have what it takes to achieve success.

By not delaying things, we feel more confident about our ability to succeed. And if you become consistent with it, you won’t feel like a failure…even if you’re still on your way to success.

13) Not actively working on your dreams

What can help us stop FEELING like a failure? 

Taking action.

If you want to be more fit, simply lifting weights for 10 minutes a day or walking 1000 steps can make you feel good about yourself.

If you want to be a painter, painting two days a week can make you feel like a success (even if you’re not yet good at it).

But if you just keep setting goals and dreaming about a good life, and yet, you’re not even doing 10% of the effort it requires from you, then you’re bound to feel like a failure.

The best cure for feeling like a failure is just simply taking the necessary steps to achieve any kind of success.

No meditation or positive self-talk can get you out of it if you’re not taking any action. 

Final thoughts

In a world where everyone is expected to succeed at everything, it’s normal that we feel like a failure from time to time.

When this happens, remind yourself that you’re allowed to take your time. 

As long as you’re taking action towards your goals, you’re not a failure.

Success can happen in 5, 10, or twenty years. And the more you love yourself and acknowledge your efforts, the sooner it will come to you.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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