A lot of people achieve some degree of success in their lives. No matter how they measure it – a happy family, a better position at a company, acquiring some money, traveling – most people can identify a thing or two that makes them proud.
However, there’s a reason that there are so many people who are mild-to-moderately successful, and so few who are super successful. Rather, there are a lot of reasons, and it begins with assuming that “super success” is strictly material, and ends with the usual culprits: jealousy, laziness, complacency.
There are a few definable habits that hold people back from reaching their full potential, here are 12 of them.
1. They reach their “upper limit,” and then self-sabotage.
Gay Hendricks coined the phrase “upper limit,” and it refers to the amount of happiness human beings will allow themselves. If we’re only used to experiencing a certain amount of happiness, we’ll sabotage ourselves to go back to our comfort zone. This is an extremely common problem among people who just begin to see success in their lives: they begin to create or manifest issues so that they can return to their problem-solving comfort zone.
2. They confuse comfort for happiness.
The reason why the “upper limit” exists is because your brain can’t tell the difference between happiness and sadness; it can only tell the difference between comfort and discomfort. If we aren’t aware of this, we end up self-sabotaging, accepting less than we deserve, or staying in painful relationships only because they are familiar.
3. They assume that “super success” is one specific thing – and it’s material.
A lot of people are extremely unhappy because they assume “success” is monetary, or at least, materialistic. They don’t want for more money, or more responsibility, so they fall into a sort of plateau period. The reality is that your super success could be finally overcoming a life-long fear, no longer being defined by anxiety, choosing to be happy, being kinder to people, working on your romantic relationship. Maybe living a life beyond your wildest dreams is less about having endless disposable income each month, and more about being happier and kinder and more at peace than ever before.
4. They envy, or emulate, people who seem more successful.
It’s wise to take notes on the strategies and mindsets of people who are accomplished in their lives, but envying – or trying to become – someone that you are not is a recipe for dissatisfaction. If your idea of “success” is simply to be as much like someone else, you’ll build a life that doesn’t fit, and doesn’t feel right.
5. They do too much in a day.
It is not your time that is really limited each day, it is your energy. Anybody can find or make time for the things they really care about. The people who are super productive are not necessarily the most disciplined, they are the most interested in what they’re doing. It’s really a matter of what gives you energy vs. what depletes you of it. Doing too much in a day keeps you stressed, spread-thin, and constantly feeling like there’s more to be done. This sense of hectic incompleteness will rob you of whatever success you do find.
6. They work so hard “in” their business that they forget to work “on” it.
They try to micro-manage all of the small details in their lives to the point that they fail to develop the bigger picture, and end up spending their lives stressed out and paper-pushing, rather than innovating and adapting to market needs.
7. They don’t learn to live below their means.
Most people assume that more success (more money) will bring them unlimited options, freedoms and ease. This is only true if you know how to manage it. If you have made it a habit of spending outside of your means, you will continue to do so, only on a larger and larger scale. You need to learn to be happy with what you have in any given moment. If you aren’t able to do that while you have little, you absolutely will not be able to do it when you have a lot. You will keep trying to get more, never realizing the problem is not your situation, it is your habits and behaviors.
8. They confuse contentment for complacency.
You can be completely happy with your life and also still work toward building it, and creating more. Contentment is having your feet in the present, and your eyes gazing toward the future; complacency is having your eyes staring down at your feet, assuming where you are now is where you will always be.
9. They stop dreaming.
Do you know what has to happen after all your dreams come true? You have to dream some more. That’s the strange magic and beauty of life – it keeps going. You will always be moving, it’s a matter of choosing what you’re moving toward. Achieving your goals doesn’t give you an excuse to stop trying. You have to keep thinking “what’s next?”
10. They’re all talk, and little followthrough.
The problem with constantly speaking about big goals before they are completed is that it rewards you for the wrong thing. You will rapidly lose traction if you’re getting attention, praise and response from just talking about what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion, but offer people a polished, completed product, not a promise that it’s someday going to happen.
11. They stop working on themselves.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work that you forget your work is an extension of you, and the quality of it can only be as solid as you are. Self-development is a lifelong practice. When you become static, everything in your life is affected by it. Every challenge presents an opportunity for growth, and people who live their best lives are the ones who seize that.
12. They assume “success” will solve their problems and make them indefinitely happy.
Whatever your problem is, success is not the answer. Success is almost never the answer. Success will not make you a permanently happy person. It will not diminish your need for love or connection or belonging or joy, it will only highlight what you don’t have. Being “successful” changes how you think people view you, it doesn’t change how you connect with them, or how fulfilled you feel. Wherever you go, there you are. “I hope everybody can get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey