The internet is chock full of daily habits that will help your routine (I’ve even written about quite a few myself) but what about bad habits?
Whether it’s finally dragging ourselves to the gym or writing daily, we tend to shift our focus towards new routines every New Year. Yet, many of us fail to examine the negative habits that are holding us back.
Because habits are so ingrained into our daily routines, it’s very likely that harmful ones are sneaking in and detracting from our success. That’s why the exceptionally successful know that what you don’t do is just as important as your actions.
As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”
Without further ado, try banishing the following habits, and see how your success in business and in life improve:
Take a Look in the Mirror, Not in the Next Cubicle
“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt
If you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and a big majority of us are, it’s time to stop. There will always be someone ahead of you, but the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Whether you are feeling bad because you think your peers are doing better than you, or you are building yourself up based on their failures, both are unproductive and have the potential to be self-destructive. If you feel good about something you’ve done, enjoy it — you don’t need the recognition from others to affirm your accomplishments.
Also keep in mind that your perception of others is likely inaccurate, and the grass is actually sometimes not as green as it appears to be. A study done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that people are much more likely to display positive emotions than negative. So the next time you think the guy from marketing “has it all,” you may want to consider what he is not showing underneath it all.
You Need to (Actually) Listen
With a million and a half things going on, it’s easy to get distracted when listening to others (especially if it’s a boring topic). However, as uninteresting as the conversation might be, you should know that listening has been called one of the make-or-break factors for successful leadership.
So if you want to up your success, replace this common habit with active listening. Instead of nodding off, consider both showing the speaker that you’re interested (nodding, agreeing, etc.) and actually making an effort to understand (by asking questions and clarifying). Even if you aren’t actually interested, you’ll absorb the information and look highly professional.
Stop Being Too Agreeable
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” — Warren Buffett
We’re all told that being agreeable and saying “yes” is polite and desirable. While that might be true during a dinner party, in the business world, it can have drastic consequences. You’re only human (sorry to break it to you), and with limited resources, you’ll eventually end up making a false promise by taking on everything. Plus, you’re an amazing individual, and you need to put yourself first.
Instead of saying “yes” to everything, learn to turn up your turn down skills. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a boss what should be prioritized, or to put yourself first over an acquaintance’s needs.
Give Up the Gossip
Especially in the office. Not only should you try to avoid it, but when you hear it, you should shut.it.down. Keep in mind that the ears of others are always listening — and when someone hears you gossiping, you will lose their trust. A loss of trust, I would argue, is the №1 reason teams deteriorate and fail.
If your team feels they can’t trust you with confidential information, they will not have your back or the team’s best interest in mind because they feel their own protection needs to come first. Keep the positive vibes going, there are so many other things we could be worrying about than the relationship that might be happening in the finance department.
Stop Aimlessly Roaming the Internet
Be intentional about your internet surfing; decide what you are going to focus on and don’t move to the next tab until you’ve finished. A study out of the University of California, Berkeley, found that on average, office workers go only 11 minutes between interruptions, while it can take up to 25 minutes to get into a state of productivity called flow.
Research shows that while working in your flow state, you are working at a level that is five times more productive. So, every time you click on the Facebook tab to do a quick scroll, you are really putting a longer pause on your work than you think.
It’s Time to End Procrastination
When “Tomorrow Syndrome” starts to rear its ugly head, it’s easy to get caught up in its effects and delay projects till the last millisecond. Before you know it, procrastination can cause looming deadlines to snowball, and destroy productivity and motivation in the process.
Instead of procrastinating, the experts recommend you take on bite-sized chunks of a project. This can remove the intimidation factor and get the ball rolling towards productivity with minimal effort. For instance, if you have to build a whole website, consider setting a simple goal of designing the logo. It will be hard to go back to your bad professional habits once you start being productive instead.
Dump the Toxic Waste
As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
Do you have a co-worker who makes your blood pressure rise? Stop thinking about him/her. Think about the family and friends that you are grateful for and that bring you happiness instead — these are the people who are worth your time, energy, and brain space.
It’s tough to reevaluate your own situation; to look at your harmful characteristics takes a great deal of effort and courage. But everyone is human. See this as a chance to improve and create a better you, rather than being negative.
By ditching these habits and replacing them with positive ones, you’ll be on the path towards exceptional success.
This piece originally appeared on Medium.
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