The 5 Habits Sabotaging Your Success

Pay attention—class is in session.

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We see you hustling, and we know you never thought it would be easy. But you could be putting in the work 24/7 and still not reaching your full potential thanks to a few habits you think will lead to success but are actually holding you back. You can’t work any harder, but you can start working smarter. If any of these practices sound familiar, cut them out for good and you’ll start seeing major changes in your growth.

1. Saying Yes to Everything

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Congrats! You’ve finally reached a point in your career where people actually care about what you’re doing. You’re getting presented with offers and opportunities and, hey, you don’t want to shut down any channel. But Warren Buffett said it best: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Why? Because really successful people are expert prioritizers. They know their goals and stick to them. So even when an attractive opportunity presents itself, they’re able to decipher whether or not it will serve them and be worth their precious time and attention. If something doesn’t align with those goals, they say no.

The solution: Understand what you or your company needs. Stay focused on your goals and don’t pile extra projects on your plate if they’re not going to help you achieve them. You can always revisit those opportunities later, when and if they will serve you.

2. Always Being Plugged In

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Back in 2017, France made headlines for enacting a new law that prohibits employees from sending or receiving work emails after hours, giving people “the right to disconnect.” And while that may sound scary to an entrepreneur or career-focused person who’s always on his grind, logging off is important in more ways than one. According to a 2015 Harvard Business School study, workplace stress is responsible for up to $190 billion in annual U.S. health care costs. We guess that’s where the phrase “working yourself to death” comes from. But besides the health risk, consider your performance. Constantly being burned out means never operating at 100%. Why willingly hold yourself back from reaching your full potential?

The solution: Take a deep breath, log out of your email account and vow not to look at your inbox again until 9 a.m. tomorrow. Take some “me” time. Go to the gym, read a book, rewatch Mad Men. Giving yourself a break will not only provide a much-needed recharge but also allow you to clear your mind, leaving room for new ideas and solutions that can help you in the long run. There’s a reason Don Draper disappeared from his office so often.

3. Being a Perfectionist

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Listen, you didn’t get this far by not being a high achiever with a serious vision and a meticulous approach, but demanding perfection, from both yourself and others, is likely doing more harm than good. First off, it’s simply not realistic. Expecting perfection closes you off from the ability to adapt and deal with challenges. Worse, your perfectionism could be preventing you from taking valuable leaps in the right direction, simply because you’re afraid everything isn’t quite up to par yet.

The solution: Loosen up some of your expectations and give yourself some leeway. If you wait until everything feels “perfect,” you’ll be waiting forever. Submit the proposal or apply for the job. You’re good enough now!

4. Handling Everything Yourself

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We get it. You built something from scratch and this is your baby. It can be hard to put your trust in others when it comes to handling it. But every good leader knows how and when to delegate. If you need to focus on the bigger picture and major decisions, stressing out about the little things will hardly help you move forward. You can only spread yourself so thin. Also, you’re basically telling your team you don’t have faith in them. Not a good look.

The solution: If your project is finally big enough to start hiring people, utilize the help! Not only will delegation help ease your to-do list, but it also inspires team morale and allows the people sharing your vision to use their own abilities and skills. After all, hiring smart means hiring people who do some things better than you.

5. Shutting Down Criticism

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If you’re doing something truly innovative, haters and naysayers just come with the territory. It means you’re doing something right. And while most of the time it’s truly necessary to tune them out, not all criticism is created equal. You could be shutting down helpful advice or missing the solutions to problems you didn’t realize you had. 

The solution: Be confident but not arrogant. According to Kat Cole, the president and COO of Focus Brands, “Anytime you get criticized, take a moment and assume the criticism is accurate. Assume the person criticizing you is right, just for a moment.” Whether it’s coming from a colleague or a client, opening yourself up to it allows for discussion and gives you the chance to take a second look at something that might not be working out.

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