Many of the young entrepreneurs I meet through my work as a writer, investor and entrepreneur aren’t reaching their full potential. What’s more, they have no idea why. They have great ideas for their startups and financial backing to make it a reality. But no matter how hard they try, they keep coming up short.
Is this you? Do you believe you should be successful but can’t get quite where you want to be?
If so, I’m willing to bet you’re letting a few bad habits run in the background, without your knowledge. Bad habits often go unnoticed, like a slow leak in a car tire. Until one day, when you’re on the side of the road without any advance warning there’s a problem.
Success requires technical skills as well as the grit, focus and energy to carry you for the long haul. Success also demands self-knowledge. You must be able to see yourself and your habits clearly so you can change them before they stunt your potential.
Take a look at the list below and be brutally honest: Do any of them ring a bell?
- You’re a perfectionist.
This is one of the worst ways you can sabotage yourself. If you live in fear of doing a task wrong, you won’t be able to begin. The stress of being perfect freezes up creativity and joy, making your task longer, more difficult and not as fun.
Give yourself permission to create imperfectly. Make drafts knowing you won’t include some or most of what you’re doing. You always can edit what you’ve begun. Greatness comes from many failures and do-overs.
- You’re compulsively distracted.
Surfing the internet, answering a call, getting a snack, texting someone back quickly while you’re in the middle of something — it all pulls you away from intense focus. If you’re constantly interrupting yourself, you can’t get into the swing of things. You could be setting yourself up to waste your whole day.
Turn off your distractions, close your door and focus for a set period of time. If you need to call, text or eat, give yourself a set break to do so. And then have the discipline to return to the task at hand.
- You hit the snooze button.
Several studies have proved 15 minutes of extra snooze time in the morning won’t help you feel less tired. Scientists found a long time ago that you need deep REM sleep to recharge. Snoozing actually makes you more tired and fatigued. Even worse, it wastes time you could spend drinking water, showering or exercising — activities all shown to increase energy levels.
Instead of lying in bed, wishing for just 15 minutes more of sleep, tell yourself it won’t make you less tired. Get up when your alarm sounds, and start incorporating healthy morning habits that will help boost your alertness.
- You leave your most important work until later.
Most people are at their best earlier in the day, before they’ve reached the brain fatigue of afternoon and evening. Don’t save your hardest or most important tasks for “later.” You won’t have the energy to devote to doing it right.
Tackling difficult tasks early in the day improves your work product. It also allows you to relax as your day unfolds. You’ll know you accomplished what you needed to do, and you’ll have nothing hanging over your head before you leave for the day.
- You multitask.
Just because you think you’re good at multitasking doesn’t mean it’s the best way to get things done. In fact, studies have shown that multitasking reduces the amount of short-term memory you retain from your task. Over time, this reduces your amount of long-term memory as well.
Multitasking makes you miss important details and learn less. It also leads to mistakes. Skip the juggling act and focus on doing one thing well.
- You sit too long.
If you frequently use your computer all day, you’re putting your body through some major stress. In a sitting position, the spine becomes less flexible. This puts strain on the lower back, shoulders and neck. It also reduces blood flow to the brain and lungs — the powerhouses you need to accomplish your best work in the moment and later on in your life.
Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. Stretch your back and shoulders while you’re working, and consider adopting a regular yoga or pilates routine. Stretching and strengthening your body can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, back spasms, fatigue and reptitive-motion injuries.
Bad habits don’t have to rule your life or keep you from achieving success. Changing all your habits at once can be overwhelming, so focus on improving one small thing at a time. Before long, you’ll establish habits that help you be your best.
From the desk of Murray Newlands