No matter what you want to succeed at in life—your career, a hobby, your personal life—there are a few universal truths that can be applied to the pursuit of success and a few mistakes that can be considered universal barriers to achieving it.
As I’ve watched and studied successful people in my life, I’ve noticed five mistakes that they seem to be able to avoid at any cost.
Do you fall into the trap of any of these mistakes? If so, you may be putting roadblocks on your own path to success
Mistake 1. Avoid responsibility
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” –Winston Churchill
One of the first things you will notice that successful people don’t have is a blaming or victim mentality. When things go wrong, what is your first response? Successful people won’t say, “I couldn’t succeed because of X, Y, and Z” or “It’s actually this person’s fault.” They’re much more likely to own a mistake rather than blame others for their failure or misfortune. I believe the key here is that by owning a mistake, we are more likely to learn from it and much less likely to repeat it.
Mistake 2. Procrastinate
“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” ~Napoleon Hill
Successful people tend to take action, regardless of whether it is the “perfect” time or not. When Gutenberg invented the printing press, the literacy rate was almost nonexistent—not exactly perfect market conditions for mass producing books. And no one knew they needed a “smart” phone until Apple invented one. Don’t wait for the perfect time to do something. Work hard and don’t give up—regardless of what might be going on around you. Success is very often the accumulation of many small achievements over a long period of time.
Mistake 3. Follow the trends
“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” –Jack Kerouac
Every day we produce 2.5 quintillion (1018) bytes of data. In that flood of information, it’s tempting to think that we have to jump at every new development, try every new thing. (We sometimes call it “shiny object syndrome.”) But jumping at every new thing will leave no time to develop the deep understanding that pursuing lifelong learning might. Focus your energies on understanding the root of what you hope to succeed at and ignore the rest. For example, if you hope to succeed in sales or marketing, you might choose to study human psychology rather than the latest social media marketing schemes.
Mistake 4. Try to go it alone
“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us.” –Tim Gunn
One of the most vital things successful people do is to surround themselves with other successful people. No man is an island, and having a network, a mastermind group, surround oneself with clever people can make all the difference between success and failure. This is true whether you hope to succeed at a personal goal like weight loss (studies show people lose more weight in a group than alone) or a business goal.
Mistake 5. Lack of belief
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” –Norman Vincent Peale
This isn’t about positive affirmations or visualizing success, but rather, as Peale says, “a humble but reasonable confidence” that you can achieve what you set out to achieve. Think about it the other way round if you are skeptical; if you don’t believe that you can succeed, why would you even try? You must cultivate a strong belief in yourself even in the face of setbacks or adversities if you hope to ultimately be successful.
Avoiding these mistakes will help you succeed at work or a single goal or task, but to be truly successful, we also need to be happy. The sixth mistake I see unsuccessful people make is not seeking a healthy balance between work that fulfills, family life, friends, and health. Only when you make happiness and balance a goal can you truly succeed in any other area of your life.