Working toward your definition of success can be a long road, often paved with trial and error—and that’s the beauty of it. However, there are certain actions and mindsets you simply shouldn’t be wasting your time on, full stop.
We spoke to a handful of psychologists and successful C-level executives to see exactly what we shouldn’t be doing while we aim for greatness. From trying to be perfect to feeling envious of others, don’t waste your time on these actions if you’re working on yourself or your business.
Trying too hard to be liked
Natalie Levy, a women’s empowerment coach and founder of the event series Babes Who Brunch Club, says her clients often grapple with the desire to be liked—something many of us still struggle with. “I understand this sentiment because I also like to be liked!” says Levy, “But, successful people don’t waste their time trying to please everybody. Something I often quote to my clients is ‘if you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no one’ and that’s true in both business and in life! It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, so it’s important to focus on remaining authentic to who we are.”
Feeling bad about making mistakes
Whether you like it or not, mistakes are inevitable. According to Rubeena Ianigro, licensed social worker, mindset and business coach, mistakes are necessary so you can learn and grow. ”Instead of wasting time on beating myself up over mistakes, I asked myself what I can do about it or how I can make up for it.” she says.
Feeling guilty for wanting more
“I’m a mother to a two-year-old girl and I come from a patriarchal culture so wanting to pursue my own dreams can clash with what I learned from my family,” explains Ianigro. “I had to make space for my own desires and serve as a role model to my own daughter.” In short, you get to make your own choices and no one else can force you to feel anything. “My family is super supportive of me now that they see how much it means to me.” she added.
Subscribing to a scarcity mindset
If you can believe it, you can achieve it. There’s plenty for us all and there’s room for us all so there’s no need for anyone to ever insist on playing small if they really want to go for it. According to Ianigro, if you can earn $1, you can earn $100, and then $1,000, and more. “Feeling any kind of lack will block abundance,” she says.
Complaining or surrounding themselves with negativity
Have you ever noticed how quickly your attitude can go from feeling on top of the world to feeling like crap depending on who you speak to? Successful people are very careful about who they spend their time with for that reason. “Successful people don’t hang around people who complain, especially when the complaint is about how busy they are,” says Greg Githens, author of How to Think Strategically. Sharpen Your Mind. Develop Your Competency. Contribute to Success.
Getting jealous or feeling envious
Regina Huber, CEO of Transform Your Performance never lets herself get caught up in wishing she had what someone else has. “Successful people don’t waste precious energy on envy or on competing,” she says. “They focus on their own brilliance, that of their product, service, company, or what I call in my work their “Distinctive Uniqueness.”
Trying to be perfect
“I never spend time hoping everything will be perfect. You just do it,” says Steve Raack, CEO of VITALIBIS. “I have a phrase, ‘Turn Left’. Meaning, turning left changes what you see in the rearview mirror.” In short, focus on making progress every day and don’t let the past impact the present.
Competing and seeing others as the enemy
Buying into the fiction that ‘nice guys finish last’ is one of the most dangerous narratives to fall into. “While it may seem to win in the short run, in the long run, kindness, humility and generosity are the traits that support sustainable success,” says Paul L. Hokemeyer, J.D., Ph.D.
Getting too comfortable
Success requires constant adaptation, innovation and pivoting. “People who are successful constantly strive to improve themselves, the people around them and the world they have the privilege of finding their place in,” adds Hokemeyer.