A secret about success is that it is just as much about what you give up as what you gain.
Are you willing to give up late nights out for late nights in working? Are you willing to turn a deaf ear to blind criticisms? Are you willing to listen to helpful ones? Are you going to be able to give up the doubt, the resistance, the uncertainty, the avoidance mechanisms? As Mastin Kipp says: Are you willing to live as other people won’t, so maybe you can live as other people can’t?
High achieving people understand that the foundation of life is the white space – and that because our energy is limited each day, what we spend it on will define us in the future.
1. The fear of uncertainty.
Nothing in life is certain. There are no guarantees, ever. Building your own business or embarking on a side project or trying a whole new career doesn’t mean you’re diverting from the path of certainty and into a life of the reckless unknown. It means you recognize that certainty is largely an illusion, and clinging to it can ultimately hold you back.
2. Ignoring your feelings.
Your anger? It’s telling you where you feel powerless. Your anxiety? It’s telling you that something in your life is off balance. Your fear? It’s telling you what you care about. Your apathy? It’s telling you where you’re overextended and burnt out. Your feelings aren’t random, they are messengers. And if you want to get anywhere, you need to be able to let them speak to you, and tell you what you really need.
3. Pretending your problems don’t exist.
Make a spreadsheet of your debt. Write a list of the habits you know are detrimental to your health and reflect on what discomfort they help you to avoid. Think about the people you owe apologies to. Envision what it would take to transform your life. Be honest with yourself. Sticking your head in the sand is actively making things worse.
4. Avoiding discomfort.
All of the “bad habits” that are holding you back from your potential you adapted to as coping mechanisms, and what you were trying to do is avoid discomfort. Most people build their lives around just doing what makes them feel most at ease without realizing that trying to avoid inevitable feelings is the fast track to complacency and actually facilitates deep, prolonged anxiety.
5. Your most unhealthy habits.
Real success is a holistic thing, and it isn’t going to happen when you feel like crap all the time. It’s unrealistic to assume you’ll never have a glass of wine again, so rather than trying to eliminate everything that isn’t perfectly healthy for you, identify your worst habits and work on those while allowing yourself other vices here and there. It’s not about achieving perfection, it’s just about facilitating your health so that you can get out of your own way.
6. A victim mentality.
Your backstory will not define your life. Your current circumstances will not define your life. The only thing that defines your life is what you choose to do in response to them. Everyone has a story of struggle to share – some people define themselves by it, others act in spite of it. Your past will only be your future if you carry it there.
7. Your excuses.
It’s okay to want to explain why you aren’t where you want to be. But you also have to realize that justifying it won’t get you there any faster. In life, you either do or you don’t. You either waste time placating yourself into stagnancy, or you get honest about where you are and make change. The validity of your excuses only serves to make you temporarily feel better about why you aren’t doing what you know you want and need to be.
8. Learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is when people have faced so many challenges in their lives that they begin to believe they are powerless in the face of their external circumstances, and therefore, they just stop trying to change them. Re-learning that you are in control of more of your life than you’re not is imperative to moving it forward.
9. Defending your problems.
If someone offers you advice on how to change a problem that you’ve been complaining about for a while, do you consider it, or do you respond with an excuse as to why they don’t understand, why it won’t work, or why you are ultimately helpless? If so, consider why you are defending your problems more than you are your potential. This is a symptom of learned helplessness (see above).
Everything that isn’t helping you move forward or build a life you’re proud of is simply a distraction. Whether this means streamlining your wardrobe, decluttering your home, parsing down on your project load, or even downsizing your social obligations, eliminating distractions is absolutely essential.
11. The need to be liked.
Nobody is universally liked, largely for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with them. You are going to be liked by some, loved by others, criticized by a handful, and disliked by a few basically regardless of what you choose to do with your life. Therefore, it makes the most sense to do what you want regardless of how other people will respond.
12. Trying to do everything yourself.
You are not meant to take on every role, job and responsibility in your life. High achieving people don’t inundate themselves with work, they hire the right people, streamline and surround themselves with experts who can handle what they are not best equipped to. You are not stronger for refusing to rely on anyone else, you’re wasting your energy and weakening your potential.
Resistance is a normal response to stepping out of your comfort zone, going out on a limb, or trying something new. However, if you have more resistance than you do productivity, there’s something that needs to be addressed. You have to learn how to show up and do the work even when you don’t “feel like it” (see below) and to recognize that sometimes, too much hesitance is actually a message that you aren’t quite on the right path yet.
14. Quick fixes and shortcuts.
Building something lasting and meaningful won’t happen overnight, and you should stop expecting it to. Real change happens gradually, and one habit at a time. Rather than trying to exert enough willpower to change something 100%, focus on how you can do 1% better each day, and over time, the effort will compound.
15. Waiting until you “feel like it” to get started.
Motivation isn’t something you wait for, it’s something you build. Passion might have told you what you want to do in life, but it isn’t going to be the thing that propels you through late nights of work and difficult days that make you just want to quit. To become a high achieving person, you need principles and you need habits. What we feel strongly about does not ultimately define our lives – what we do every day does.
16. The fear of failure.
The fear of failure doesn’t make you more successful, it severely holds you back. It makes you unwilling to take chances, leave situations that you don’t want to be in, or change your circumstances. Failure isn’t a finality, it’s a learning opportunity. It is your life telling you what is and isn’t working. Honoring it and adjusting accordingly is essential to thrive.
17. Envying those who have what you want.
The way that you speak about those who have achieved what you aspire to will either enable or hinder you to getting it yourself. If we start to pick out the flaws in those we envy because deep down, we really wish we had what they did, ultimately we begin to associate having that kind of success with being disliked or unworthy. It sets us up for self-sabotage. The more you judge others, the more you put yourself in a box.
18. Waiting for your circumstances to change before you do.
It can be tempting to be allured into destination addiction, or the idea that once we have achieved one more thing, or have a new relationship, or are handed some degree of success, life will change and we will feel better. The reality is that life unfolds from the inside out, and that we don’t change when our circumstances do, our circumstances change when we do.