If you want to be more successful as you get older, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors

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I once came across a wonderful description of how we evolve as we grow older. It goes roughly like this: 

Your 20s are for making mistakes – they are mostly practice and practically a write-off. 

In your 30s, you figure out who you’re gonna be and what you want in life. Even then, you don’t really pick up speed until you’re in your 40s. 

Then you sustain that momentum throughout your 50s. 

However, it comes with a caveat – that evolution is only going to happen if you have the right set of habits in your life. 

To that end, I’m sharing ten behaviors to ditch if you want to be more successful as you get older. Hopefully, most, if not all of them, are no longer present in your life! 

1) Choosing comfort over risk all the time

Have you ever noticed how, as we get older, we start playing it safe a bit more often? I’ve noticed this in myself – I get settled into a routine or a job, then it becomes too comfortable that anything outside of it can feel scary. 

That’s how we sometimes treat our lives, especially when it comes to taking risks. It feels comfortable to stick with what we know, even if it means we might be missing out on something great. 

For me, I knew I had to be a bit bolder if I wanted to achieve my goals. As hard as it was to admit, staying in the safe zone wasn’t just making my life boring; it was also stopping me from realizing my full potential. 

And you know what I’ve learned with every risk I take? I am capable of so much more than I thought I was! And more importantly, when a risk doesn’t pan out, I can bounce back. 

Learning how to take risks taught me so much about myself. So whether it’s starting a new business, moving to a different city, or even learning a new skill, rest assured that you’ll learn a lot about yourself, too. 

2) Closing yourself off to new knowledge or skills

Speaking of the comfort zone, resistance to learning is a sneaky habit that often comes with it. We fall into the trap of thinking we’ve learned enough to get by, especially once we’ve found a measure of success in our careers or personal lives. 

This mindset, however, can be a silent success killer. The world around us is constantly changing, with new technologies, ideas, and challenges emerging all the time. 

Sticking solely to what we already know not only limits our growth potential but can also leave us behind as others move forward.

Embracing a mindset of lifelong learning is key to overcoming this obstacle. The benefits of this approach are twofold: 

  • It prepares us to adapt to change and tackle new challenges
  • It keeps our minds sharp and our lives interesting

Believe me, these benefits will serve you well into old age. People who love learning new things always find joy and feel successful no matter how old they are! 

3) Procrastination

Did you know that humans are naturally wired to procrastinate? 

Neuroscience explains procrastination as a result of a battle between two areas of the brain – the limbic system (which is mostly automatic) and the prefrontal cortex (the rational part responsible for thinking and planning). 

Unfortunately, the limbic system is pretty much dominant, so it often wins over the prefrontal cortex when it comes to buckling down to work. 

All that to say, procrastination is universal and not just about being lazy. However, that doesn’t mean we’re completely powerless. 

In fact, exerting your power over the desire to push things off for tomorrow is a habit that every successful person has.  

So if you want to be more successful as you get older, don’t let the limbic system win. 

4) Neglecting your health

Just like procrastination, neglecting our health is a behavior that’s easy to fall into, especially as the pressures of life ramp up. 

We often treat our bodies and minds like machines, pushing them to the limits without considering the maintenance they need to keep running smoothly. 

Eating on the run, skimping on sleep, and sidelining exercise for “more important” tasks might feel necessary in the short term, but the long-term consequences can be severe.

The truth is, taking care of our health is an investment in our future success. Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and adequate rest are not luxuries but essentials for keeping our minds sharp and our energy levels high.

Think of it this way: if you had a high-performance car, you wouldn’t dream of neglecting its maintenance. Our bodies and minds deserve the same level of care. 

By making health a priority, we ensure we have the strength, stamina, and mental clarity to tackle challenges and seize opportunities that come our way.

5) Blaming others for your failures

It’s a natural instinct to look outward when things don’t go as planned, but this habit can prevent us from learning from our mistakes and improving. 

That’s why I love Oprah Winfrey’s story. Before becoming a media mogul and a symbol of success, Oprah faced numerous setbacks, including a whoppingly difficult childhood and being fired from her first job in television. 

She could’ve given up and blamed her circumstances and other people for these problems. But instead, she took them as opportunities to learn, grow, and pivot her path towards greater achievements.

To me, that is personal accountability in action. Oprah, and successful people like her, understood that their life is what they make it. That’s how they overcome their challenges in life and achieve their dreams. 

6) Over-reliance on social media for validation

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your social media feed, measuring your own achievements against the highlight reels of others? 

I can’t blame you, it really can be addictive! However, if you want to be more successful as you grow older, this habit can get in the way of that. 

According to Dr. Bonnie Zucker in Psychology Today, people who use social media to seek external validation and reassurance set themselves up for a vicious cycle. 

She explains, “They do not learn to tolerate and effectively deal with their problems. The reinforcement-seeking perpetuates the problem and also doesn’t get to the root of the issue. It can even lead to an increased negative mood if there is not a lot of feedback from others.”

The key to breaking free from this cycle is to focus on cultivating a sense of self-worth that is independent of online validation. 

This involves setting personal goals, celebrating our own achievements, and embracing our journeys, irrespective of how they compare to others’. 

It’s about finding fulfillment in our real-world accomplishments and the tangible progress we make towards our aspirations. 

This brings me to my next point…

7) Comparing yourself to others

The habit of comparing ourselves to others is one of the biggest (self-inflicted) obstacles on our path to success. And when you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense. 

The truth is, everyone’s journey is unique, and success comes in many forms. What works for one person might not be the right path for another. 

More importantly, comparison can distract us from our own goals and the small steps we need to take to achieve them. 

The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. When you get into this kind of mindset, it will be so much easier to achieve genuine success and fulfillment as you get older.

8) Poor financial management

Poor financial management is another behavior that’s easy to fall into but can have long-lasting consequences. 

Without a solid financial foundation, our ability to take risks, pursue opportunities, or even enjoy the fruits of our labor can be compromised.

Building financial health requires discipline, planning, and a bit of foresight. This might mean: 

  • Setting financial goals
  • Budgeting wisely
  • Learning about investments
  • Saving even just a little bit each month

Taking control of our finances empowers us to make choices that align with our goals and aspirations, rather than being led by immediate desires or constraints. 

9) Avoiding difficult conversations

Avoiding difficult conversations is a habit many of us develop to keep the peace, but did it ever truly resolve anything?

As a non-confrontational person, I know just how much this behavior can get in the way of success. 

Whether it’s addressing a problem at work or discussing a sensitive topic in our personal lives, the avoidance only leads to unresolved issues and lingering tensions.

Thankfully, I’ve become more proactive and assertive now. And I have seen a real change in my life because of this – I have stronger and more honest relationships, and I’ve gotten better opportunities at work. 

All it takes is courage – trust me, the anticipation of awkwardness and difficulty is always actually worse than the reality. 

10) Lack of boundaries

Finally, we must talk about boundaries.

I know a lot of people who could’ve gone so much further in life if they’d learned to set some boundaries. 

It’s a lesson that many of us learn the hard way, and sometimes too late. Setting boundaries is not about pushing people away but about respecting ourselves and our own needs. 

Let’s hear it from the mega-success Warren Buffett himself:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” 

Boundaries help us prioritize our time, energy, and resources, ensuring we focus on what truly matters to us. 

So say no to an extra project that would stretch you too thin. Decline social engagements or requests that drain rather than energize you. 

That way, you’d be creating a space where you can thrive, grow, and be more successful as you get older. 

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