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Bad habits.

We all have them.

Some can be swept under the rug – like biting your nails – and others, well not so much.

And the worst offenders?

They’re the ones we don’t even realize we’re making. Will Durant once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

But before we can learn which habits to adopt, we have to learn which ones to stop. 

So in today’s article, we’ve compiled a list of common bad habits that will sabotage your success.

Do any of these apply to you?

1 | Being a bad listener

woman texting on phone

There’s listening, and then there’s really listening.

Listening to understand means a lot more than just letting the other person talk first. Most people know this, but few people practice it.

Don’t think about how you’re going to respond, but instead, try to soak in what the other person is telling you.

This is what separates people who have the it factor and those who don’t. Why? Because listening is a common trait of highly charismatic people.


“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

– Bernard Baruch


2 | Overlooking Persistence

man writing

Persistence is defined as:

Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

So do you know want to know the secret weapon to success?


But yet, many people are under the faulty assumption that talent outweighs persistence. Sure, talent is great. But persistence is what develops your skillset.

It’s what allows you to get through failures that happen on everyone’s road to success. Successful people don’t give up. And neither should you.

Here’s what Thomas Oppong, Founder of AllTopStartups says about persistence:

“People give up too soon because they have wrong expectations of themselves and the outcome.” 

He further explains, “They expect the way to be easy, and they are surprised when they find the reality to be the opposite. Their enthusiasm quickly melts and they lose heart.” 

So know what you want to do and stick with it – and that alone will carry you to the finish line.


“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”

– Bill Bradley


3 | Avoiding Failure

man looking out over water

If there’s one thing that successful people often agree on, it’s this:

The comeback is stronger than the setback.

So what’s the bottom line?

You have to lose to win.

And successful people often attribute their setbacks as the catalysts for their largest successes.

In fact, Steve Jobs credited getting fired from Apple as the best thing to ever happen to him.

He talks about it in his Stanford Commencement Address:

So don’t let failure (or the fear of failure) hold you back. You took a risk and it didn’t work out, so what? You’re not alone. You’ve got to fail your way to success.


“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.”

– J.M. Berrie


4 | Staying in Your Comfort Zone

woman giving presentation

This wouldn’t be a list of common bad habits if I didn’t include the most obvious:

Staying in your comfort zone.

We all know it, but we also know how hard it is to change this about ourselves.

Here’s the deal:

Comfort has its place.

But if you spend your life avoiding risks because it’s easier, then you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of. You learn a lot about yourself when you try new things.

Growth is about progress. Progress is about movement. And movement is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.

So what are you waiting for?


“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

– Jack Canfield


5 | Living in the Past

woman looking out window

Focusing on the past will keep you stuck there.

Whether it’s reminiscing on the good old days or focusing on negative experiences…

Dwelling on the past will make you unhappy.

Ask yourself these questions:

Is there a past period in your life that you find yourself stuck on?

Do you feel that you will never be as happy as you once were?

Are you unhappy with where you currently are in life?

Those are signs that you’re letting the past rob your present.

Here’s the deal:

We sometimes think different circumstances would lead to more desirable outcomes.

But even our perfect fantasies always leave out the hardest realities. I once heard someone say that when we reminisce on the past, we tend to glorify how it was.

Like those good ole high school days. Or that summer after college.

This is an easy trap to fall into. The past may seem better looking back, but there’s a good chance that you’re just glorifying it in your head.

So instead of replaying what once happened, it’s much more productive to let your past go and work on your future.

Focus on the here, now, today. 


“Don’t ruin a good day today by thinking about a bad day yesterday.”


6 | Letting Others Define You

two women having meeting

I had to include this in our list of common bad habits:

You cannot let others define you or what you want out of life. If you do, then you’re forcing yourself to live a shell of a life.

Imagine yourself in your 70s or 80s. Really think about it.

What memories would you like to have? What experiences will you be proud of? What stories will you want to tell?

We’re all born with nothing and we leave with nothing.

What matters is what you build between that time. This is up to you.


“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

– Socrates


7 | Putting Off Self-Care

man relaxing on patio

You’re swamped at work. You have a ton of stuff piling up at home, and your calendar is full of overdue tasks.

To fit in all this stuff, you skip lunch, quit working out, and quit seeing the people you care about.

When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go – and it shouldn’t be. Putting yourself last is one of the top bad habits that you need to give up if you want to be successful.

But here’s the kicker:

Self-care has been a popular topic lately, but it’s often poorly explained.

You see it in magazines and online, but yet it doesn’t leave you with a clear idea of how self-care adds value to your life.

So as a result, you don’t factor self-care into your weekly routine.

So what is self-care?

Self-care just means anything you do to be good to yourself. It’s also about knowing when you’re stretching yourself to thin – and knowing when it’s time to step back.

You practice self-care when you do healthy things that make you feel good:

Reading a book

Spending time with people you care about

Enjoying a hobby

It’s like making a pact with yourself to put yourself first.


“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

– Jack Kornfield


8 | Not thinking BIG picture

napkin with goals written on it

Dedicate time to think about what you want in the future. If nothing else, see this as an investment in yourself.

Learn that not making a choice about your future, IS a choice.

What you do today matters. You don’t have forever to do this stuff.

You can spend your days working hard, but you still won’t succeed if you have no idea what your goals are. So come up with a big picture idea of where you want to be in 1, 3, and 5 years.

Give yourself a strong why so that in moments of weakness you can remind yourself why you’re committed to your vision.


“The man at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

– Vince Lombardi


9 | Negative Self-Talk

woman looking at sunset

If you want to know one of the worst things you can do in this list of common bad habits, it’s this:

Putting yourself or others down.

When you engage in negative self-talk or gossip, you’re creating more negativity in your life.

I could never pull that off. Why not?

My boss wouldn’t like that idea. How do you know?

I don’t have what it takes. Are you sure?

Don’t drag yourself or others down. Be your own biggest cheerleader. See the best in everyone and see the best in yourself.


“Not everything you hear is good for talk.”


10 | Not Keeping in Contact

man typing on laptop

My all-time favorite book for 20-somethings, The Defining Decade, talks about the strength in weak ties.

In her book, she says our acquaintances can open doors for us we didn’t even know were there.

Think about it.

You spend time with a certain group of people. Those people are probably a lot like you. They think similarly to you, have the same hobbies, and do the same stuff.

But there’s one problem:

You leave yourself closed off to new people and new opportunities.

Keeping in touch with acquaintances – or “weak ties” – gives you fresh perspectives and new ideas that you won’t always get from your circle of friends.

So maintain relationships with former coworkers, friends, or people you’ve met.

This could be as simple as shooting someone a text or email saying:

Just wanted to say hey and see how you’re doing!

In fact, 80% of jobs get filled through networking. So it actually pays to keep in contact.


“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.”

– Robert Kiyosaki


So there you have it – 10 very bad habits that are blocking your success. 

What habits from this list do you recognize in yourself?

As always, thanks for reading.