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24 Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Success | Undergrad Success
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24 Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making (That Are Sabotaging Your Chances of Success)

24 Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making (That Are Sabotaging Your Chances of Success)

Do you ever look at successful people and wonder how they got to be the way they are? It’s easy to envy people who are just a little bit ahead of where you are–maybe even a lot bit ahead. It’s easy to see their success as an overnight result. The truth, however, is vastly different (most often).

Instead of focusing on the things that can help you be more successful, such as improving your productivity AND your happiness, I’m focusing on the mistakes you might not know you’re making, which are ultimately sabotaging your chances of success.

Seriously. I know how easy it is to get up in arms about someone correcting your spelling or grammar, but you need to take this seriously. Stop looking uneducated.

1. You suck at spelling

This is nothing to LOL at. “I’m a bad speller” is a poor excuse and totally invalid. This tells me one thing: you lack attentiveness to detail. Well, that… or you just don’t care, in which case you quickly move to the “ignoramus” category of an uneducated misfit. Get it right.

2. You’re always late

This is definitely an area I need to improve upon. Subconsciously, I think I just know that Jessica will forgive me about being a few minutes late to our meetings. But I’m getting better at it, as I know I need to improve my tardiness. Being late is not okay. That’s all there is to it.

3. You gossip

It’s such a wasteful activity. Can you really find nothing better to do with your time than gossip about people who don’t matter?

4. You over-promise (and under-fulfill)

It’s an easy mistake to make. You get stuck making a huge promise for your boss, one you know you’re unable to fulfill, but you really want to make him or her happy. Listen… your boss is going to be far more disappointed when you don’t deliver the results you promised. Keep things realistic and be honest about what someone can expect from you.

5. You aren’t accountable

Nothing bothers me more than people who can’t accept accountability for their actions. Accountability is what separates professionals from amateurs, adults from children, superstars from nobody’s.

6. You make simple tasks complicated

Want to annoy those people you work with most? Make simple tasks complicated. Please, please, pleeeeaaase don’t be this person. KISS — Keep ISimple Stupid.

7. You’re overly sensitive

There is some room for sensitivity in personal growth. It allows you to grow and receive feedback. But it doesn’t mean you should let trolls and whiners slow you down. Be receptive to feedback, and don’t take things too personally.

8. You can’t move on

Have a short memory with bad experiences. Do your best to reflect and learn from what has happened. Critical to your success is the ability to not make the same mistake twice. But you can’t be so hard on yourself. Move on. And don’t let the past repeat itself.

9. You have bad friends

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Kate Mongin notes that you need to make sure you choose the right friends. Don’t take this lightly. I love to go out and let loose just as much as the next person, but you need to stop hanging around the groups of people who always do this. It’s not healthy. Instead, start surrounding yourself with people who are similar to you and are already doing what you want to be doing. The key to getting better is to learn from those who’ve already done it.

10. You have low self-esteem and confidence

My friend Max wrote a killer post: The Shocking Truth About Confidence. In it, he notes that we’re often told to “just be confident.” And this can be extremely frustrating to those of us who aren’t naturally confident. The secret? “Confidence is built by eliminating the gap between what you need to do and what you actually do.”

11. You don’t take care of yourself

Primary to all else is our health. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Find a workout program. Eat more fresh foods. Cut down on sugar. And start being accountable for your decisions. They will affect you.

12. You lack discipline

This translates to all areas of your life. It’s no coincidence that a fair majority of your “success” role models will have incredible self-discipline. How do you think they push themselves to work each day? It’s certainly not a lack of discipline. Quit making excuses and get to work.

13. You have poor faith

No, I’m not necessarily talking about whether you practice religion (though that certainly may apply here). Faith comes in many forms. Faith in oneself. Faith in humanity. It might even be your faith in God. You decide. But it needs to be strong. Faith will help guide your decision making. Don’t waver here.

14. You have a shaky belief system

Some might argue this is the same as faith; I disagree. At all times, you must believe in yourself. You have to conviction in these beliefs, and they must be in line with your faith. The two work together.

15. You’re afraid of taking risks

Why don’t more people take risks? Poor faith. Shaky belief systems. Risk sounds negative. But the key is to manage it. You’ve heard the cliché that the biggest risk is to take none at all. And it’s true. “The risk is not in doing something that feels risky. The risk is in not doing something that feels risky.”

16. You think the grass is always greener

I’m fairly confident I could write an entire post on this alone, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Revolutionary, right? Not really. Develop your strengths. Minimize your weaknesses. And if possible, outsource them. Stop thinking the grass is always greener, and start watering/fertilizing the grass you do you have.

17. You’re jealous

Success has no room for jealousy. It’s tough not to be envious of those more successful. I get it. I’ve been there. Instead of being jealous and feeling sorry for yourself, use it as inspiration to improve. Ain’t no time like the present.

18. You lack focus

I’m 93.45% sure I have undiagnosed ADHD. I’m the guy who has 22 tabs open at once in Google Chrome. I’m so bad with staying focused on one item at a time, that I have a tab manager extension on my browser. But when I need to get things done, I get them done. And this is the difference between lacking focus and well… lacking focus. When it comes to crunch time, do you get your job done in a quality manner? Do you deliver the expected results? Or are you still telling your professor that your dog ate your homework?

19. You’re easily distracted

Contrary to popular belief, this is actually different from #18. I mean this in the sense that you get distracted in your goals and vision. Paramount to your success is your ability to stay dedicated to your vision. If you’re constantly letting things distract you from it, then you’ll never accomplish anything worthwhile.

20. You’re a “know-it-all”

If you still think this is okay, we should probably never meet in real life. If you’ve never been proven wrong, you’re either 1) hanging out with people who are less intelligent than you; or 2) you have a severe fascination with confirmation bias. Neither of these is entirely unnatural to humans, but be aware of it. Oh… and grow up. You’re being childish.

21. You can’t say “I’m sorry”

Drop your f**king pride already. I’m not going to think less of you as a person. No, I don’t expect you to apologize for everything. (Don’t be a pushover.) But you should be a big enough person to admit when you’re wrong. Apologize for wrongdoings. We all make mistakes…except for those of you that well…refuse.

22. You refuse to make mistakes

It’s a valiant effort. Really. I mean that. But stop being a know-it-all *ahem #20* and get out there and take action. Imperfect action will always, always, always, be better than perfect inaction. It’s okay to make a mistake… but if you can’t even allow yourself some breathing room, how do you ever expect to grow and learn?

23. You don’t ask questions

Closed mouths don’t get fed. If you’re unwilling to ask questions for fear of sounding stupid, you’re never going to learn a lot. I promise you this. People love feeling wanted. They love being sought after for their advice. Just ask already!

24. You have no patience

There will be a small number of people who open the article who actually got this far. So, congratulations! You had the patience to read the entire list. Patience, even in its smallest forms, is a virtue. It’s easy to want overnight changes, but it’s unrealistic. Have patience in yourself. Trust in continued self-discipline.

How many of these mistakes were you making without realizing it? Do you have any of your own to add? Let me know in the comments below — or — angry tweet at me for making such vast assumptions about you 😉 Cheers!


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Samuel is in charge of products & content for Undergrad Success. Most days he’s figuring out how to spend less time working than he already is. When he’s not on the beach in Oceanside,CA, he lives online at http://hershberger.co/ where he coaches young men and women looking to get unstuck in their lives.

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