We perform several routines each day without even thinking about them. In fact, I wake up approximately the same time each morning, grab a cup of coffee (like my life depends on it), and check my email every few minutes. The problem is that some of our routine activities are counterproductive. Clearly, poor habits lead to poor results.
The upside of autopilot is that you don’t waste valuable time thinking about mundane activities — enabling you to focus on things that matter. The downside is that you get so used to doing things that you don’t think about whether they make sense, or worse yet, whether they’re destructive.
Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.
Break Up with Poor Habits
When was the last time you assessed your daily routines and separated productive from unproductive behavior? As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” How many of these 40 destructive behavioral tendencies sound familiar? Do you:
- Obey rules blindly? Do you follow rules even if they’re outdated and no longer make sense?
- Fail to act? Dreams, unlike eggs, don’t hatch from sitting on them.
- Surround yourself with toxic people? A lot has been said about the impact that toxic waste has on the environment. Consider the impact that toxic people have on your life.
- Set low expectations? Don’t lower the bar to guarantee that you’ll hit your objectives.
- Refuse to make personal sacrifices? If you’re not willing to make the commitment, don’t complain about the outcome.
- Blame others for your circumstances? If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, don’t blame the mirror.
- Quit when things get tough? Every time you quit you make it easier to tell yourself that quitting is acceptable.
- Watch the clock? Putting in the time doesn’t cut it; getting the job done right is what counts.
- Fail to learn from mistakes? Making a mistake is acceptable. Just don’t let it return for an encore.
- Surrender to your fears? Some people are so afraid of failing that they don’t try…and fail.
- Do the bare minimum? Autograph your work with pride. Always give 110%. It’s the extra 10% that everyone remembers.
- Believe everything you hear? When your ears hear one thing, but your eyes see another…use your brain.
- Dip your toe in the water? Superficial effort leads to superficial results. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
- Put off decisions? When you do nothing, nothing happens.
- Choose convenience over principles? Knowing what’s right isn’t as important as doing what’s right.
- Win at all costs? Never win at the expense of a relationship.
- Resist feedback? Just because you’re blind to your flaws doesn’t mean you don’t have any.
- Fail to set priorities? If everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority. As a result, important things don’t get the attention they deserve.
- Try to be all things to all people? It’s hard to be good at one thing, much less everything.
- Fail to make tough choices? Resources should be allocated where they’re best utilized, rather than distributing them equally across the board.
- Act greedy? If you’re selfish, don’t be surprised if the behavior is reciprocated.
- Fail to take precautions? Don’t wait for a fire to locate the exits.
- Act without forethought or preparation? The danger in shooting from the hip is hitting yourself in the foot.
- Seek immediate gratification? Never risk the things that’ll matter most to you one day because you feel the urge to satisfy yourself today.
- Procrastinate? Those who begin things, but never complete them, accomplish nothing.
- Look down your nose at people? If you think you’re more important than everyone else, you’re not thinking.
- Stay within your comfort zone? Never let fear stop you from living your life.
- Try to control the uncontrollable? Don’t worry about things that you can’t do anything about.
- Live in a bubble? You’ll never know if your ideas are sound until they are challenged.
- Refuse to be open-minded? You don’t win a debate by suppressing discussion; you win it with a better argument.
- Resist change? Ready or not, the future will happen.
- Rest on your laurels? Complacency is the enemy of success.
- Dodge personal responsibility? When you become overly dependent on others, you relinquish the ability to control your life.
- Fail to keep promises? A promise should be as binding as a contract.
- Use a to-do list to measure progress? It’s less important to get everything done than to make sure that you get the right things done.
- Sell your soul to make a quick buck? Money should never become the cornerstone of your life, nor should it define you as a person.
- Place all your chips on the same color? If you put all your eggs in one basket, any fall will be a messy one.
- Try to be a crowd-pleaser? The more you try to impress someone, the less impressive you become.
- Listen to naysayers? The next time someone says, “The odds are against you,” remember that if you don’t try, you forfeit the opportunity.
- Let success go to your head? There’s a difference between achieving success and being a success. You’re not a winner if you don’t know how to be a winner.
Kick the Habit
As you went through the preceding list, I’m sure you thought, “Of course some of these tendencies are familiar. After all, we’re all human.” True. But if you’re conscious of your behavior, you can choose whether to plow forward or change direction. As Arthur Burt, the author, said, “Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.” Remember that poor habits lead to poor results.
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