Success isn’t always about bank account digits, how many sports cars you own, or how good-looking your partner is.
Sure it can be all these things, but the fact remains: there is no singular definition of what true success entails.
In my opinion, though, certain behaviors are almost universally considered counterproductive and can serve as hindrances to achieving your chosen definition of success.
In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the things unsuccessful people do in their free time (that accomplished people tend to avoid!)
So if these items sound familiar, you can catch yourself and correct the behavior.
Let’s get to it!
1) Excessive television
As you may have noticed, we’re living through the golden age of television.
With dozens of quality TV shows at our disposal, the temptation to spend days at a time binge-watching can seem all the more alluring.
But like anything in life, this can be a detrimental habit without moderation and balance.
I know, I know… The Bear is a compelling watch, but don’t spend the entirety of your weekend on the couch going through both seasons.
Balance it out with things like going outdoors, getting work done, or exercising.
Too much escapism and you’ll lose touch with reality, stifling opportunities for growth in the process.
2) Not learning anything new
If you spend your free time lying around, mindlessly scrolling through reels or Tweets (more
on this later), then this can be troubling.
Look, we have one life to live, we might as well maximize our potential while we’re here.
Not investing any time in personal development, education, or new skills is something you’ll regret down the line.
You don’t want to squander your (limited) hours by not doing much.
Sure, there’s always a time and place for doing nothing, but there also should be a cap for this.
For example, if you’re interested in food, learn to cook a new dish.
If you’re into art, learn graphic design.
The list goes on. Everything you need to learn is online or on YouTube anyway.
I hate to be that guy but, at this point, there’s no excuse: you have to keep moving forward.
3) Neglecting exercise
One parallel I’ve observed among successful people is that almost all of them look after their
Why? Because they’re aware of the countless benefits physical activity has
on their mental and physical well-being.
They may have the most demanding job in the world, but they’ll always make time for the gym.
This might mean waking up a few hours earlier than usual and turning it into a routine.
Or maybe it means taking breaks in the workday to hit the gym.
Exercise can take many forms: yoga, lifting weights, or even getting those 10,000 steps in.
It’s your call really–just get active!
4) Partying a bit too hard
Here’s the thing: it’s almost a default move for most people who work during the week (and come to think of it, even those who don’t) to spend the weekend hitting the bar or club.
But I’ll tell you this: regularly indulging in excessive partying or substance abuse can negatively affect your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Unchecked, it can also have an impact on your productivity levels and relationships.
I’ll be honest, I used to binge drink.
The next day(s), however, would be less than pleasant.
Firstly, I’d be so hungover and demoralized, I wouldn’t be able to do anything but consume greasy, junk food.
Second, I’d get such horrific anxiety after a night of binge drinking that it would debilitate me for days, sometimes weeks.
I’d be endlessly ruminating over things that might or might not have happened or things that I may or may not have said or done.
The latter feeling would overwhelm and distract me from more positive pursuits.
My work suffered. Whatever rhythm I had in terms of productivity was lost; all because of a few drinks.
Today, I’m sober and feel perpetually clear-headed and ready to tackle life–a stark contrast to my dark, weakened, hungover days from a few years ago.
I’ve never been happier, and I will never look back.
5) Staying home and not networking
Real talk: solitude is cool, but don’t discount the power of meeting people face-to-face.
Now I don’t mean you have to become a social butterfly overnight, but making it a point to
acquaint yourself with new people every now and then can lead to professional opportunities and personal growth.
Trust me, no man (or woman) is an island, we could all use some help to get to where we truly want to be.
My best friend got his job as a counselor by volunteering at a local homeless shelter.
Turns out, one of his fellow volunteers he befriended that day ran a school and hired him on the spot.
Trust me, these types of opportunities present themselves all the time.
First step: get out there!
6) Engaging in negativity
If you spend an inordinate amount of time complaining or being negative, without trying to fix your situation or find positive outcomes, then that’s just self-defeating and sad.
Take this as a sign to get your butt in gear. Start being optimistic about life. Cultivate mindfulness and maintain self-care.
Be thankful for what you have instead of obsessing about what you don’t.
Remember, not having any concrete short-term or long-term goals leads to a lack of direction and purpose–not exactly an ideal platform for success.
7) Scrolling through Instagram
This is a big one.
If you spend the majority of your waking hours scrolling through various social media channels, then the fact is, you’re not making the most of your free time.
Social media, particularly these days, is like a drug. It provides a highly accessible, easy dopamine fix–hence we thirst for it constantly.
You might occasionally chat or share memes with friends in your DMs; but generally speaking, social media doesn’t provide particularly meaningful interactions or learnings.
Most of the time we’re logged on, we’re mindlessly scrolling and/or watching other strangers live fake, exaggerated lives while we argue about it in the comments.
Nobody is immune to the potency of social media addiction. Last week, I spent nearly two hours thoughtlessly perusing Instagram reels without realizing it.
By its very nature, social media also encourages procrastination. Before you know it, a whole day passes, missed opportunities and all.
This is no way to go about life.
There’s a real world out there, and I guarantee, it’s almost always more intriguing than whatever content you’ll see today on TikTok.
If success is what you’re after, certain criteria generally should be met–and making the most of your free time is certainly high up on the list.
It’s the little things, the subconscious habits, that collectively form your essence as a person, and the person you hope to one day become.
So start being mindful of the things you do, both big and small, with growth consistently at the forefront.
Chances are, you’re a few habits away from realizing your best self. It’s time to go and get it!