There are a lot of habits that are advised to be adapted if you want to succeed. It is equally important to get rid of the habits that will hinder your success a.k.a. bad habits.
The kind of habits you have, dictate the kind of life you live. The way you live your life has a huge effect on how you work, and it does not require a genius to figure out that how you work has a huge impact on your success.
Here are some of the habits that you need to get rid of, not only to work for your success but also to become a better version of yourself.
1. Checking Social Media first thing in the morning
After waking up, many people check their phones. This then leads them to scroll through the feeds of multiple social media channels. Precious morning hours that could have been used to work on yourself or your work are wasted.
Make a rule to not look at your phone until and unless you have completed your morning chores. If you want, you can go through your phone while you have breakfast, that way you will take your time to finish the meal, instead of rushing and forgetting breakfast altogether.
2. Watching TV especially Reality Shows
Watching TV is one of the most time-consuming forms of entertainment people engage in. One show leads to another and then another. Now we have Netflix that helps us fuel this addiction more by allowing us to binge watch complete shows.
While some shows can be helpful, reality shows aren’t. They are like junk food for our brain. We might enjoy seeing them, but they are going to have negative effects on us.
3. Not Reading Anything
Reading is a great tool for anyone thinking of learning anything. Reading is one of the important hobbies to take on. Most successful people find time to read. They also advise reading at least one book every week.
If you think reading books is a difficult thing and you can’t commit to reading an entire book, then read magazines in your field. Read articles online; blogs have great reads to offer. Most articles can be read under 5-minutes. Start with small articles and then gradually increase the length of the text. Eventually, you will be able to read a book.
Multitasking can be great but not many people are good at it. Your attention is divided among different tasks, not allowing you to finish even one. If you would really like to get things done, pick up a task, focus on it, get it done, and then move on to the next one.
When you are working in a browser, shut all the other tabs and use only the ones that are necessary for the task you are currently working on. All the clutter can overwhelm you, it is important not to lose focus.
Procrastination has become one of those popular terms that people consider as sort of quirky and relatable. They don’t feel bad or take it seriously, but it is a real issue. Procrastination can delay your success. If you can’t stop putting off important work, then you might as well accept the fact that you aren’t going to achieve the heights you would like to.
You can’t not work for something and expect it to happen. To stop procrastinating, you need to get rid of all the distractions. While working, keep your phone farther from you, answer only important phone calls. I keep my phone always on “Do Not Disturb” mode and it has done wonders for my productivity.
Follow the 2-minute rule. If something can be done within 2 minutes, do it immediately. This stops tiny tasks from accumulating and also gives you a sense of accomplishment.
6. Not Budgeting
Whether you have a job or run your own business, budgeting is really important. You can’t only live in the now with your money and have no safety net to fall back on.
“Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.”
At the beginning of your career, it is easy to get lost in a spending spree because you earn now. But, take a step back. What if there was an emergency one day and you needed money. You won’t have any because you spent it all.
You don’t need to spend every penny, neither do you need to save every penny. If you don’t know how to do it, then the 50-30-20 rule is a good one to start with and follow. This rule tells you to put 50% of your after-tax income for necessities like bills, housing, food, etc. 20% goes to your financial goals, that is, saving. Finally, the remaining 30% can be spent on wants, like dining, entertainment, etc.
I would also advise to save and keep aside at least 6 months of living expenses so that if you lose your job or source of income, you will have enough cushion to fall back on.
7. Not Investing
While saving is important, you can’t neglect investing. If you are following the 50-30-20 rule and saving 20% of your income, have you ever thought about what to do with the 20%. In today’s time keeping your money in the bank just doesn’t cut it. There are many investment options. Buying real estate, gold, stocks, bonds etc are just a few of the many ways to invest.
Let your money make more money for you. If you want to retire early or not slave away every day, then investing smartly can be of huge help. One of the best things to invest in is yourself. If you invest in learning and training, it pays huge dividends. It enables you to start a business which then allows you to make money even when you are sleeping.
8. Not Punctual
Punctuality is one of the very important traits of people who get things done. Nobody likes tardiness. If you are not punctual, chances are, people are going to stop taking you seriously.
If you are always an hour or two late to every meeting, every deadline, then you are making a bad impression. People like working with people they can rely upon. Someone who misses every deadline and has no value to their word, is not the person people want to work with.
If you run your own business, this can have a very adverse effect because relations with clients can bring you more business. If the word about your unprofessionalism spreads then your business will take the hit.
9. Getting Too Comfortable
Being too comfortable in the position you have is good but you need to always have some sort of ambition, to rise from your current position. Consider getting too comfortable with your situation as still water. Still water eventually gets stagnant.
It can stump your growth, stop you from reaching the heights of success. Which is why, it is important to always think about what next and then aim for it. It gives you a sense of purpose and the required push to go to the next step.
10. Complaining Too Much
Nobody likes hanging out with negative people. Certain things piss everyone off, but if you spend a lot of time and energy gloating about things that upset you, you are going to push people away.
Quick sessions of complaining when everyone complains can be fun, knowing when to stop is the key. People lose interest in you and what you have to say if you keep complaining. No one likes surrounding themselves with negative people.
Stop spending time thinking about things you cannot change. If there is something you don’t like, then instead of complaining, there are two sensible ways to go about it. One- if you can’t change it, then stop thinking about it and go on with your work. Two- if you can change it, then work on changing it. In either case, there is no room for complaints.
11. Not Making Eye Contact and Poor Body Language
Not making eye contact portrays a low level of confidence. When I was in college, there was a guy who didn’t make eye contact. The problem was that his line of sight was a person’s chest. It wasn’t an issue when he talked to guys but when he talked to girls it was a whole other scenario.
If you have a problem making and holding eye contact, then you can look at the person’s forehead or their nose, keep the height difference in mind. A short person looking at someone’s forehead is a very easy giveaway. Look just past their heads or ears, that way you are making eye contact with them through your peripheral vision while not getting uncomfortable yourself.
Slowly, you will find that you can now talk while maintaining eye contact. Same goes for body language. The way you hold yourself gives off the aura about the kind of person you are. This is why you are always advised to keep your back straight; it portrays confidence and authority.
12. Skipping Meals
I know how easy it is to get lost in your work and skip meals. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Start by not missing your breakfast. You will start the day with the needed energy, and even if you have a late lunch, your body won’t suffer much. When you have a late lunch or skip lunch with no breakfast to support your body, you start feeling weak.
Recently, I was skipping too many meals because I was busy. It eventually caught up. My sugar level was low. I started blacking out, my whole body started feeling too light and tingly. I had to sit down and eat a few bites, drink something for it to subside.
Is it worth it? Is feeling like this just to get a lot of work done, worth it? No, it definitely isn’t. Making your health suffer in the name of being busy is one of the stupidest decisions you can make.
A healthy body is going to work more, so instead of burning yourself out, try keeping a pace that doesn’t affect you in the long run. Take care of your body, eat proper meals at proper times.
13. Not Exercising
Like eating proper meals, exercising is essential. When your body is in good condition, you can work all you want. When it is not, you spend a lot of time and money to make it better.
Instead of letting it get to that, start exercising. Start with small changes in your routine. Go for a quick walk after lunch and dinner. Do yoga in the morning, meditate before going to bed or in the morning.
Start small and as you start getting comfortable with the routine, increase your pace. A sound body and a sound mind is the key to success.
14. Not Trying New Things
Remember when we were kids, curiosity made us try so many different things. As we age, we stop trying new things. New experiences teach us a lot. They help us learn about ourselves. We find new hobbies, and we learn something that we wouldn’t have.
Learning new stuff challenges our minds. You might discover how much more you can do than you are doing right at this moment.
Curiosity is an important asset to learning. Never stop learning and never stop experiencing new things. In the end, our experiences are what make us.
15. Not Having Fun
The way to get success isn’t working 24×7, it is finding the balance between work and self. Only working can tire your brain, burn out your mind, and put you in a rut. Getting out once in a while doesn’t mean that you are not serious about your future. It means you care enough to give yourself a break.
Let loose, go out for that drink you have been saying no to, go out for the movie you have been waiting to watch, catch up with your friends, spend time with your family. In short, have fun!
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
The changes we make in our daily routines, our habits, have the power to change the narrative of our lives. They directly contribute to the outcome of the work we do. It is crucial to recognize the areas we need to work on and then find ways to make it right.
“The most important investment you make is in yourself.”
Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You
Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores.
Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.
It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it.
A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough.
Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group.
This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case).
The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success.
For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.
There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts.
One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere.
Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures.
This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow.
You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?
Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed.
You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!
No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool.
For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.
This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success.
Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success.
So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple!
Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success.
The Science Behind Forming Habits that Last
If you’ve ever tried to form a habit, someone’s probably given you the advice that it takes only 21 days to do so.
The 21-day rule claims that one must only perform an activity every day, for 21 days, until it automatically becomes a habit and the person no longer has to put in the effort to do the activity.
And, if you’ve ever tried to test out this rule: you likely found that it doesn’t really work.
Unfortunately, there are many more factors that come into play when considering why some habit formation happens in less time than others.
I was told by a school teacher that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to become a lifestyle. During the lockdown, I tried to make it a practice to meditate every day for 10 minutes to meditate. I eagerly awaited the 21-day mark, expecting some kind of magical transformation to take place as soon as I awoke.
There was nothing different about the 21st day (or the 3 months after that), and I didn’t experience any time-bound results.
Where the 21-Day Rule Comes from
Interestingly, the 21-Day Rule isn’t so much a rule as it’s a misinterpreted observation. A plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a well-acclaimed book about human behavior.
In his career, he noticed that it always took a minimum of 21 days for one of his patients to mentally adjust to the physical change in their body. He proposed that any sort of mental image adjustment requires a minimum of 21 days from this data.
Now while this could be useful data for mental image adjustments, habit formation encompasses many more factors than that.
Here are scientifically-backed factors that influence how strong your newly formed habit is and how long it will last.
How Big or Small it is
If your habit is something challenging to do, it will take a lot of willpower for you to drastically change your everyday routine to accommodate it.
For example, if you work a 10hour shift and still want to workout at the gym for an hour a day, knowing it sacrifices your recreation time: chances are that this habit will be really difficult to form and sustain.
A small habit like making your bed, washing the dishes before you go to bed at night, or even self-affirmations in the morning: are all habits that can fit into a schedule without you having to sacrifice much.
Starting with small habits makes it easier since you don’t need a lot of motivation to perform them.
How Important the Habit is to your Self Image
Some habits we’re trying to form are more important to us than others. If you strongly believe that this habit will help you become the person you’re destined to be, you’re going to attach more value to carrying it out every day!
How Many Days you Skip
We’re often under the impression that all your progress will come crashing down if you skip a day. Thankfully, it’s been proven that even if you miss a day, there are no long-term effects on the habit formation itself. But it’s recommended that you never skip more than one day at a time.
How You Remind Yourself
When reminding yourself to perform the activity you’re trying to convert to a habit, it’s critical to piggyback off other existing habits. That means if you already have a habit of doing yoga and want to get into a habit of meditating, make sure that you meditate right after your yoga practice. One habit helps the other.
How Sustainable Your Pace is
If you’re working on forming a habit that needs to be built up over time, you need to make sure this pace is feasible for your current lifestyle. You know your life best, and if you know you’re going to have a significant life event and get busier soon, don’t have unrealistic expectations from your new habit!
40% of our day-to-day life is made out of habits. Forming a new habit can very realistically transform your entire life. I’m glad you’re on this journey to maximize your potential, and I’m sure you can do it!
How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?
Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?
Why should you read daily?
- To gain knowledge
Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.
- To improve your vocabulary
Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.
- To have a make-believe world
The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.
- To become more attentive
Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.
- To reduce stress
Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person.
Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.
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