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Ten Habits That Keep You From Success

No one walks into my office trying to fail.

Most, however, are trying to understand why they are, or at least are missing the mark on their goals.

We develop habits, usually unknowing, that keep us from success. See if you recognize yourself in any of them...

Messiness and disorganization

If you’re a busy person, that’s great - maybe it’s a sign that you are in demand, productive, succeeding. However, if you can’t find things, are late to appointments, miss meetings or other important events, it’s time to make time to straighten up. Clutter should be temporary, and if you don’t take charge of it, trust me it will take charge of you. People you work with want to see someone who is confident and put together, and it’s these small things that you need to take care of.

Poor Time Management

It’s a simple concept: plan your day. Every hour. Give every moment a purpose, including breaks and personal time, and you will conquer your goals, day by day. This is because even the biggest of goals are reached in the day in and day out detail. While it’s nice to appear available at any time, it doesn’t serve anyone if you try to please everyone. However you work best — digital calendar or the “old fashioned daytimer” — set a schedule, and respect it. Everyone else then will follow suit.

“La la land” v. Focused thinking

We’ve talke about the value of dreaming, meditating and the importance of rest, but be careful. Like I mentioned in the point above, do these things, but in a scheduled environment. Focus is critical and should be on the HERE and NOW, which is really the only thing you can do anything about.

Poor Communication Skills

We have each been given one mouth and two ears. That should tell you that LISTENING is far more important that being heard. When people see that you are actively engage with what they are saying, you build trust, build business and ultimately build success. Paying attention to what a person is telling you, and what they aren’t saying, also provides you with volumes of information that can help you be better at serving them.

Underestimating Personal Presence

I’ve mentioned that in sales, YOU are the commodity. If you were the product in a catalog, how would your customer describe you? Be clean, groomed, and avoid habits that may color a person’s perception of you, deserved or not. If you are a smoker, as I used to be, understand that smoke follows you everywhere, and if that’s a turn-off for others, it’s either time to quit or channel the habit to outside of work.

Lack of Confidence

Generally, the more informed you are about what you are doing, the more confident you will be. There’s a saying, “Fake it until you make it,” but be careful. If you don’t have the knowledge or experience, it’s tough to pretend for very long. Work on learning what you need to before you meet with a client, a coworker — your boss — and you’ll have authentic confidence that people will find engaging.

Poor Impulse Control

Everyone has said something out loud, and immediately wished they could take it back. In business, it can cost you partnerships, sales or revenue. Resist the urge to answer right away, and instead be thoughtful before you speak. You can even practice a few lines, “Let me consider the options,” “I want to be sure of the information, so I will need to get back to you.” You may also want to repeat what you heard the other person say to clarify and also to show you are paying attention and want to give them an appropriate response.

No where is this more of an issue than in emails or worse, text messages. What people write may be interpreted quite differently from their intent. Resist the urge to react, and either clarify, or better, take time and talk to them on the phone or in person.

Unclear Goals

What people want isn’t necessarily the same as their goals. Does that make sense? In other words, a client will tell me they want to be a millionaire. Well, who doesn’t? That my friends is a wish. A goal is a concrete and detailed picture of what you want: I want to be in a C-level position in five years working in industry X making $1 million. Now THAT is something I can work with. It gives a clearer direction to reach.

(Read more about setting SMART goals)

Not Being a “Go-getter”

Smart, talented people can fall under this category. Often it’s because people feel that’s enough to lead them to success, but to be realistic, there are a lot of smart and talented people out there. What makes you stand apart is being creative, innovative, and unafrai to make bold suggestions. It can seem risky, but there are few wildly successful people who have ever avoided failure. In fact, it’s probably the thing they all have in common: innovation, creativity and failure along the way.

Unwillingness to Change

John Maxwell, who is a mentor of mine, has said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” It’s the truth. People might want things to change, but they themselves have to change. And that can be scary. For those who are willing to look deep and do the work, success is far more likely. However, if you’re not willing, there is little anyone can do.

No matter if you saw one or many of these habits in yourself (or better yet ask someone else if they see it in you to get really honest), understand that you don’t have to tackle it on your own. Seek an accountability partner you trust, a mentor or a business coach if you are really serious about success. They may also seek your advice in turn and you can help each other succeed. Chart your progress, and of course celebrate the wins!