Businessman and Businesswoman --- Image by © Serge Kozak/Corbis

Businessman and Businesswoman --- Image by © Serge Kozak/Corbis

“Choose your friends wisely,” one of the many lessons we learn early on in life. How about “choose your habits wisely.” Did you know that associating with bad friends could be as harmful as having bad habits? They both limit your potential and render you less effective in your career, personal, and family life. In this article I am going to discuss 3 habits that successful people avoid at any cost. Eliminating those negative habits from your life will help you optimize your resources and help you better manage your life. Let’s start with:

1. Negativity: There are two kinds, internal and external negativity.

- Internal negativity: When you are alone, with no one to impress, how do you talk to yourself and what do you see? Do you see limitations, do you see obstacles, do you see problems, do you see scarcity most of the time in your life? If you answered yes to any of the above visions then you have a problem. You cannot succeed in life when all you see around you is deficiency or problems. People who succeed in life see possibilities; they see opportunities wherever they are and in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. They work hard to bring those possibilities to life, while those who are not successful work to avoid problems. Successful people start with something and unsuccessful ones start with a deficit. They (unsuccessful people) are always blaming their parents for not giving them this or that; they blame their employers for treating them this or that way; they blame history for making this or that happen. Although some of those issues may be valid, they should not be the focal point of our life. You can still be productive even when you didn’t have a good start in life. It is all about your perspective.

When you focus on what is missing in your life long enough you start believing that the world is meant to be that way and as a consequence you stop dreaming big, you fail to see possibilities around you. You start settling for mediocrity, you lower your standards because you believe that that is all you can get in life.

- External negativity works the same way, except that the dialogue is with other people. These are people you admire such as your parents, your friends, your teachers, community leaders, and occasionally your enemies… They sometimes say things about you that you do not endorse, but since you admire or respect them you assume that they have monopoly of wisdom. You allow them to tell you what you can and what you cannot do. What they say becomes more important than what you believe. While it is good to pay attention to other people’s advice, it is important to exercise discernment when they are giving you negative feedback. You need to ask: What is the motive behind their message? Is the person animated by fear, is he/she jealous, is he/she knowledgeable on the subject? Is the person looking to exert his or her power over you? Is the person insecure? All these are questions you need to ask when someone sends a limiting or negative message your way. Because once you believe their message, you create space for it in your belief system and give it some power to control how you perceive things around you. The problem most of the time is not what people tell you, it is how you interpret what you hear or how you select what to keep. I like how Shannon Alder says it in the following quote; “The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.” Your beliefs can prevent you to see the full spectrum of things that you are capable of doing. Negative beliefs can destroy your creativity; they can limit your ability to innovate. Negativity causes you to lose your passion because it kills your inner child. It kills that part of you that is willing to try new things; it kills that part that endures falls and long hours of practice. When that part of you is gone you cannot create, you cannot innovate, you cannot do anything that can revolutionize life around you. Negativity therefore must be avoided at any cost.

2. Laziness: Results create more results and the lack thereof causes stagnation and death. How can you be motivated to do something if you have never accomplished anything worthwhile in life? How can you convince people that you are capable of doing something when you have nothing to show for it? People will mostly trust you when you can show them something tangible or when others can confirm that you are truly capable of doing what you claim you can do. So, if you spend most of your time at home doing nothing, or not doing enough of what you are required to do, then when time comes for you to prove your capabilities, you will have nothing to speak for you. “Folks who never do any more than they get paid for, never get paid for any more than they do” - Elbert Hubbard. Successful people work wholeheartedly; they go the extra mile. They understand that temporary discomfort won’t kill them; it will instead build their podium. If you are in the habit of choosing to do what is easy and comfortable, you may need to think twice because success does not come to those who like the easy and comfortable but those who are diligent and passionate in everything they do.

3. Lack of a clear sense of direction: Leading a successful life is like running a 3500 miles race. In that kind of race you go through different terrains: You run through deserts, mountains, rocks, snow, rain etc. You run until nightfall when you cannot see anything, you run in the cold, you run in the heat until your body can’t take it anymore. Despite all that pain, despite the discomfort that you body endures, your mind somehow convinces you that yes, you can do it. Those who know where they are going and why they are going there find it easy to press past the temporary discomfort of the body. However, those who have no sense of direction lose their passion easily. They come up with all kinds of reasons why they should stop. The problem is that they live with a perpetual sense of regret because they ask themselves, “What could have happened if I had continued and finished the race”? Sometimes however, they pose this question when it is too late, when nothing can be done to change their situation. “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” ~Author Unknown

When you are at the crossroad between pursuing what is possible and keeping the status quo, it is easy to listen to the latter, because it is the voice of what is familiar, the voice of what is comfortable. However, the status quo will only perpetuate itself. But, when you know where you are going and understand why you are going there, you somehow find energy to press past your discomfort and pursue what is possible. You still feel the pain, you still feel the body aches, but one way or another you find the power to help you keep on pressing forward.

When you have a clear sense of direction you are able to press forward even where you don’t see a path. You are willing to create trails, while those who lack a clear sense of direction end their journey where their paved road ends.

Choosing good habits is as important as planning your life. You must always be seeking to develop new and better habits while weeding out all the negative and destructive ones.

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