8 things successful people don’t waste their mental energy on

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Your energy is a limited resource.

And every day, you choose to pour it into a variety of things, from the people you love to the people you don’t, from the hobbies you adore to the activities you despise.

A couple of negative thoughts may not seem like a lot, but as far as your mental energy is concerned, negativity takes up a hell of a lot of space.

This is why people who are truly successful – that is, people who aren’t only accomplished but who are also genuinely happy – don’t waste their time, attention, and resources on things that only bring them down.

They know there’s no point. More than that, they know their energy will be better used elsewhere.

So, here goes: these are the 8 things successful people don’t waste their mental energy on.

1) Fearing the worst

A few years ago, I achieved a sense of success in my life. But before I could even savor it properly, the doubts rolled in.

What if, now that I had everything I’d ever wanted, I lost it all?

Suddenly, success didn’t seem like an entirely positive thing anymore because it gave rise to the fear of having all that happiness torn away from me.

But then I realized that I was completely ruining the very moments I’d been working toward for years. And if I didn’t learn to enjoy myself, what was all that hard work for?

After doing a lot of work on embracing uncertainty, nurturing a positive mindset, and letting go of control over things I couldn’t influence, my fears finally came to a halt.

And then…

So much of my mental space opened up. Now that I was no longer riddled with worry and doubt, I could divert that focus elsewhere – toward abundance and joy.

Fearing the worst isn’t going to help you. It’s only going to sour the very life you’ve worked hard for.

2) Ruminating on past mistakes

Worrying about the future and worrying about the past go hand in hand – they’re both a waste of your limited energetic resources, not to mention they pollute your mindset with unnecessary negativity.

I’m not saying you should never try to process what’s happened in the past, of course. Sometimes, we need to spend a lot of time writing and thinking about past events in order to heal and move on.

But rumination is different. Rumination lies in obsessive thoughts that lead nowhere. And there’s nothing healing about running in circles of self-loathing.

Psychologist Edward A. Selby PhD agrees: “If the situation has you in a bad mood, rumination will keep that bad mood alive, and you will feel upset for as long as you ruminate. If you ruminate on the problem for days, chances are, you’ll remain upset for days.”

3) Procrastination

A few days ago, I was procrastinating on a specific task I didn’t want to do. I postponed it for as long as I could. I spent hours going back and forth in my head, trying to motivate myself to sit down and do it while also looking for an excuse as to why I shouldn’t have to.

Slowly, the evening rolled around, and there I was, still procrastinating.

When I finally started on the task, I felt a huge sense of relief. It was as if I’d finally escaped the weight of indecision.

Later – when the task was done and dusted – I looked back on my day and shook my head. “Did I really spend all of today trying to force myself to do this?”

It felt completely pointless.

And that’s because it is. While time management is an incredible tool that can help you allocate your time effectively (taking a break now will help you perform better later), procrastination is different.

Procrastination is riddled with guilt and shame and doubt. And it takes up so much of your mental energy that could be used elsewhere.

Hence why successful people don’t waste their time procrastinating. Instead, they either take a guilt-free break or they just do it.

4) Feeling guilty for prioritizing their mental well-being

Speaking of guilt-free breaks, it’s taken me many years to learn how to shake off the guilt associated with rest.

Having grown up to be *that* productive friend who gets an incredible amount of stuff done in one day, I’ve always struggled to accept that breaks were just as important as work.

At one point, I even complained about the pointlessness of sleep because “I didn’t even do anything of value in my dreams”.

Uhm. Yeah. That’s how bad it was.

But then I had an enlightenment of sorts. When I looked into the science of taking breaks, it finally dawned on me that relaxation was just as valuable as work. If I never rested, I wouldn’t have the energy to perform at my best.

In a way, taking the day off or sleeping for nine hours straight is like replenishing your own battery.

This changed the game for me. I no longer feel guilty when I spend time recharging and I assign a lot of value to my mental well-being.

Being able to enjoy yourself without a worry in the world… isn’t that a type of success in and of itself?

5) Activities that bring no real value to their lives

This sounds like contradictory advice given what we’ve just spoken about, but hear me out.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of relaxing activities:

  • Activities that help you be in the present moment and truly recharge
  • Activities that are fun yet tiring and that make your life worse, not better

The first kind includes things like painting, hanging out with friends, crocheting, reading, or walking your dog.

The latter comprises scrolling on social media for ages, gaming for two days in a row, or binge-watching a TV show every evening.

Am I saying successful people never scroll, never game, and never watch TV?

Of course not. But the amount of time you spend on activities in the latter category matters a great deal.

Since they are inherently addictive – they all give you short dopamine boosts without too much effort on your part – it’s possible to get lost in them and feel even more tired as a result.

I don’t know how about you, but every time I binge-watch a TV show, I end up having a terrible migraine. If I spend the whole day reading or crocheting, though, this doesn’t happen.

Go figure.

6) Opinions of people who haven’t walked the same path

If you decide to build a business, it’s not the CEOs who will laugh at you.

If you choose to write a book, it’s not the published full-time authors who will doubt you.

The people who haven’t reached the level of success you’re aiming for, on the other hand…

Yep.

People like that are much more likely to show skepticism, mock you, or dismiss your goals as a flight of fancy because they can’t imagine a success of that kind for themselves, let alone you.

But you know what?

It doesn’t matter what your uncle or your co-worker thinks.

Successful people take advice and inspiration from those who have walked the same path and reached the final destination, not those who haven’t even noticed the path was there.

7) Trying to please everyone

The simple truth is that no matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy. You don’t have that kind of power.

In fact, other people’s feelings are completely none of your business.

You are not responsible for their reactions to your actions. The only thing you’re in charge of is that action in and of itself, which means the best you can do is to live with integrity and abide by moral principles.

If you go after your dreams, you might make some people angry, spiteful, or envious.

If you don’t, you might make other people disappointed, sad, or upset.

But the point is that it doesn’t really matter how they feel. This is your life. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to live it successfully.

And while we’re at it, it’s also completely up to you to define what “success” means to you.

You can’t please everyone, but you can sure as hell raise your own happiness levels while also displaying kindness and generosity.

8) Waiting for the perfect timing

I’ve heard it a thousand times before.

“I just don’t feel quite ready yet. I’ll do it someday.”

When is someday, though?

More often than not, “someday” is an abstract idea forwarded into the imaginary land called Future and never enacted in the present moment.

Which is why successful people don’t waste their energy in the here and now.

No. Instead, they muster up the courage to take active steps toward making their dreams come true.

If not now, when?

Stop waiting for the perfect timing. It doesn’t exist. The only time that matters is now.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

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

9 signs your relationship is slowly becoming toxic, according to psychology

9 things successful people never do on a Saturday morning