5 bad habits of highly unsuccessful people

5 bad habits of highly unsuccessful people

Avoid these habits to help you reach your potential in veterinary practice.
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Jun 01, 2013

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Habits aren’t inherently bad. Our routines define us. Repeating certain actions each day allows us to seek refuge from the chaos and unpredictability of the real world. We carve out a space that is uniquely ours and we control. For the most part, this is healthy. But what about those habits we retreat to that are negative? They’re more prevalent than you might think.

Take the time to reflect on these five bad habits, and seek ways to minimize their influence on your life. Who knows—you just might find happiness and success along the way.



1. Rejecting change

I meet negative people all the time. Rarely do I conclude a lecture before someone points out why what I’ve been doing for the past 21 years in my practice simply won’t work for him or her. And you know what? They could be absolutely right.

But whenever we fill our minds with “why it won’t work,” we run from the possibility that it might. This simple mental trick instantly removes any chance of what we really don’t enjoy about possibility: change. Change requires work, action, and lots of other potentially cumbersome things we’d rather avoid.

The problem with “why you’re wrong” and “why it won’t work” is that they don’t add any value to the proposition. I realize that people who tell me this sincerely believe they’re helping me better understand their unique situation or are pointing out a hidden flaw in my idea. They’re also being polite in their disagreement as they hide behind a thin veil of agreement.

What they really mean to say is, they know better. They’re the authority. The net result is, it stops cold any possibility of change in the person’s life, and if they’re not careful, in the lives of those around them.

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2. Being suspicious of answers

“Do these jeans make me look fat?”

“No, you look amazing!”

“You’re just saying that. Of course I look fat.”

Sound familiar? This and billions of other similar conversations happen every day. The problem is, this conversation is destructive. The subtle context was that the opinion of the supposedly trusted person was meaningless. The person asking about the jeans ranked the answer given as wrong, insincere, and/or misleading. Was it? We can’t help but compare the other person’s answers with ours. I think we must assume a position that people are truthful until proven otherwise. My guess is that the person looked great in those jeans.

Ranking or judging answers or responses, especially from people we’re close to, is a common bad habit that serves no positive purpose. There’s nothing wrong with someone giving you an opinion, good or bad, after you’ve asked for it. In fact, it’s vital that people agree and disagree.

What’s not warranted is passing judgment on an answer when we specifically requested that feedback about us. If you ask for someone’s opinion about you, about what you’re doing, or about what you intend to do, accept it. Respect it. Assume the trusted person is being truthful. This isn’t naiveté; it’s good interpersonal relations. After all, you asked.

When you regularly rank people’s answers (good or bad, accurate or inaccurate, agree or disagree) after you’ve requested their opinion, they stop giving you accurate advice. Why bother? After all, all you do is dismiss their answer.

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3. Refusing to apologize

Have you ever felt the sense of liberation and relief after uttering the two simple words, “I’m sorry”? You felt better, didn’t you? If this is true, why is it that so few of us are willing to apologize?

Maybe we think our life is some sort of contest with winners and losers. Maybe we equate apologizing with losing or failure. Maybe it’s too painful to admit we’re wrong. Maybe we feel humiliated when we ask forgiveness. Maybe we believe that if we apologize we appear weak or less powerful.

Whatever the reason, refusing to apologize creates problems in our relationships at home and work. If you look back at the broken relationships in your life, I bet you’ll find that many fell apart due to someone’s refusal to say, “I’m sorry.” And that’s a shame.

When you make a mistake, own it. Apologize for it. Don’t let your pride wreak havoc in your life. You don’t earn a prize when you die for winning the most. The only things left behind are the memories of you and the impact you had on the world.

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4. Skipping thank-yous
Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “Thank you.” That phrase is so powerful that whenever I visit a foreign country I always learn how to say “thank you” in the native tongue. For some reason, we don’t tell the people that matter most thank you often enough.

Why are we so cheap with gratitude? Maybe we view it similarly to apologizing — we somehow feel less powerful or important when we thank others. “I shouldn’t have to go around thanking people all the time, right? Of course you should be doing your job excellently. Of course you should provide excellent service to me. Of course you should love and cherish me. You don’t need to be told or rewarded for it.”

For the next week, I want you to tell people how grateful you are for them whenever possible. Not insincerely, you’ve got to really mean it. People do amazing things for us each day. Take the time to thank them. This is the easiest bad habit to break and holds almost unlimited potential. You’re welcome.

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5. Waiting for the heart attack

“It won’t happen to me” is something few people ever say out loud, yet this is exactly how they live their lives. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. The top four causes of death according to data from the Centers for Disease Control are caused, linked to, or exacerbated by excess weight: 1) heart disease, 2) cancer, 3) chronic lower respiratory diseases, and 4) cerebrovascular diseases. Most highly successful people realize the importance of taking care of themselves. So why doesn’t everyone live healthier?

The reasons for being unhealthy are numerous and complex. I don’t have the answers; however, I do have solutions. The most important decision you make today is whether or not to pursue health. Every single person—regardless of genetics, socioeconomics, or even current state of health—decides to do things each day that encourage or discourage better health. The multitude of tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions you’ll make in the next 24 hours add up to promoting health or destroying it. The choice is yours.  And it is a choice.

Try going for a brisk walk or run each day. Join a yoga class or a gym. Stop eating a bag of chips or soda with lunch each day. Put down the candy bar or doughnut. Drink more water. Small changes can create tremendous positive health impact.

Don’t think a heart attack won’t happen to you. You can’t wish yourself to good health. Don’t wait for the heart attack; avoid it. Start a journey of change that makes life more enjoyable, fulfilling, and lasting. That’s what I’m trying to do—remain “Fit to Practice” for as long as possible.

Longer, even.

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