I bet you’re already familiar with the colloquial saying: “It’s harder to break a habit than it is to form one.” I was reminded of this last week when an enormously successful businesswoman, whom I greatly admire, told me she was putting a particular habit on her “to-don’t” list. It got me thinking… What bad habits have people like her eliminated from their lives that helped them get to where they are today?
Luckily, I’ve interviewed over 250 self-made millionaires. So I dug into my archives of interviews searching for answers. And I’m happy to report, I found what I was looking for. In this article we’ll explore the secrets and advice of twelve of these millionaires, who are all enormously successful in their professional and personal lives. Here’s what they have told me they refuse to do…
1. They refuse to let unsupportive people drag them down.
Abel James, Founder of award-winning podcast, Fat Burning Man, shared this tip with me: “Some of your friends, your family, certainly your co-workers, your ex-coworkers, and almost everybody on social media, will call you crazy and try to drag you down if you strive to stand out and do something different like I did. And even now, after I’ve been successful, a lot of people from my past are still like, ‘I don’t get it.’ Get used to the naysaying, and let the negative comments help you filter out the unsupportive people from the supportive ones. In the end, all you need is that tiny peer group that does understand.”
Don’t be afraid of the conflict that might arise in your own circle. When you start feeling like those who are supposed to support you are only trying to make it harder for you to succeed, don’t be discouraged: it’s only a signal that you’re not conforming to the limits that others have set for you.
Question: Who in your life drags you down and makes you lose focus on your dreams and goals?
Action Item: Make a list of the three people who support and encourage you.
2. They refuse to let others determine their path.
Edith Yeung, Founding Partner at RightVentures, told me, “My mom still asks me ‘Hey, when are you going to get a real job?’ I’m like ‘I’m working!’ Even after you achieve incredible feats, some people just won’t see it. This is why you can’t let others decide for you. You decide how you live your life, and as much as your loved ones love you, realize they don’t know it all – they don’t know exactly what path is right for YOU.”
You mustn’t be afraid to follow the pathways that perhaps only you can see at this point. They’ll catch up.
Question: Are you letting other people make all your decisions for you?
Action Item: Remove one roadblock currently distracting you from your goals. And if the roadblock is a person you love, just agree to disagree.
3. They refuse to be limited by faulty goal setting.
Brenton Hayden, Founder of Renters Warehouse, says, “Every goal you create needs to be a SMART goal. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – SMART.”
You have to allow yourself to believe in your own ability: your capacity to create is only determined by your endurance and refusal to fall into the trap of poor planning. Set SMART goals that you can achieve and that keep you moving forward on a meaningful path.
Question: Do your goals fit the SMART formula?
Action Item: Pick one of your goals that do not meet the SMART goal formula and modify it so that it does.
4. They refuse to turn their past troubles into present excuses.
Aaron Pitman, Founder of API Domain Investments, states, “Historically, statistically, people who come from a great family with money and lots of things that are great, they don’t really push to succeed because they don’t feel like they have to. Sometimes when you come from troubled or rough times, you have a better chance at success. You just have to use your experiences to fuel your progress. You have to believe in something better.”
Any failure you might have experienced in the past isn’t relevant anymore. Whatever hardships or breakdowns that you were born from or bred into, only exist to bolster the perspectives that you aim for. Let your past be a symbol of what once was, not what is.
Question: What parts of your past have created limiting beliefs in your mind?
Action Item: Do something right now to help remove a limiting belief from your life. If it’s putting a positive affirmation on the mirror, taking a toxic friend out of your contacts, or deleting the Facebook app – just do something right now.
5. They refuse to stop dreaming and achieving, even in the face of failure.
Dan Martell, Founder of Clarity, has said, “After six years of trying and failing, and it not working, and people asking, ‘Well, what are you going to do now?’ it hurts. It’s hard when you’ve failed and everyone around you knows it and has something to say about it. And of course, then they start to doubt your present ideas too because they’ve seen you start other things that didn’t pan out. So, you know, that’s probably the hardest part – believing in yourself and your dreams even when it’s not working out at the moment.”
There’s a reason many people who set out to achieve end up unsuccessful, and it’s not because their goals were impossible to achieve. It’s due to the fact that these people can’t handle discouragement, and so they abandon their aspirations when they find themselves struggling. But remember, failures are simply the stepping-stones of growth and success.
Question: Have you let failures and setbacks distract you from staying on course toward your goals?
Action Item: Write down these failures and setbacks on a sheet of paper. Now tear it up and don’t look back.
6. They refuse to let scarcity driven fears hold them back.
Tim Hamilton, Founder of Astonish Designs, believes “…focusing on a world that is built on scarcity really does amplify fear. So I think it’s a battle that we all have to fight against – messages of scarcity – and forgetting to talk about what our capabilities are and all the endless possibility that exists.”
Have faith in your own ability to put out good work, as well as have an understanding of the nature of life’s abundance: success in everything can never be guaranteed, but there’s always an upside. A learning opportunity will find itself in every outcome, and that’s what successful people are looking for.
Question: What scarcity driven fears are holding you back?
Action Item: Grab coffee with a close friend and openly discuss your limiting beliefs and fears – bring the topic up and be honest. Compare and contrast the fears you both have about success, happiness, relationships, etc. And discuss how you can potentially overcome some of the thoughts that get in your way.
7. They refuse to think small.
Jim Bellacera, Founder of Successful Thinker, poses this question, “What happens when you set goals? You’re setting goals because you’re trying to make yourself do something that you wouldn’t normally get done by default – that’s the whole point. And even if you don’t hit a goal perfectly, you’ve made progress and you’ve done more than you would have otherwise.”
Bottom line: Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Question: When was the last time you allowed yourself to dream big, REALLY big?
Action Item: Dedicate 30 minutes a week to thinking big and reviewing your most grandiose dreams and goals.
8. They refuse to chase people/customers (they attract them instead.)
Gabriel Weinberg, creator of the search engine DuckDuckGo and co-author of “Traction” says, “If you don’t have any product engagement, your product either isn’t good or you’re not attracting the right customers. Assuming you have some engagement, and thus some validation, then your only question is: How do you get your product in front of thousands of the right people?”
Those who achieve their goals focus their efforts on making a product or service that fits a known need – in other words, they build something to help a certain group of people. In doing that to their highest standards, the product or service is going to naturally attract the right customers, without having to hunt them down.
Question: What have you done to attract the right customers (even if your customers are employers that simply pay you dollars for your hours)?
Action Item: Write down the core focus of your business or mission and put it somewhere you can see daily. Make sure all your related efforts are authentic and true to your mission.
9. They refuse to run a project (or a business) without a proven system.
Jason Swenk runs the The Smart Agency Masterclass podcast and says, “When I started putting systems in place that’s when we really started to hit scale and get profitable.”
Running successful projects and growing profitable businesses are based on repeatable systems (i.e. processes/tools/habits that can be managed and measured). Successful people work hard to figure out how to be efficient with their time, delegate what they can, and create a systematic workflow that allows their projects or businesses to run as smoothly as possible.
Question: What systems can you put in place in order to operate more efficiently?
Action Item: Identify one inefficiency in your typical workflow and decide how you’re going to eliminate it.
10. They refuse to sweat the small stuff.
John Spense, a trusted business advisor, speaker and author, says, “I think it’s absolutely fine to strive to be the best, as long as you’re not burning yourself out every second. At the end of the day you’re making some money, you’re doing the best you can, you’re learning, you’re helping others, and you need to appreciate these truths. You’re doing something really cool that very few people can do, right? So you might as well not sweat the small stuff.”
While we’ve already established the benefits of having big goals for yourself, it’s important for us to touch on the importance of not being overwhelmed with the small stuff. Be reasonable when it comes to life’s inevitable daily obstacles that sometimes feel like they’re enormous. Keep things in perspective.
Question: What habits or reminders can you incorporate into your day-to-day to help you not stress over the little things?
Action Item: Open your calendar and put three 20-minute blocks of time every week where you’re going to do something to help you de-stress.
11. They refuse to make uneducated guesses.
Dan Miller, president of 48 Days LLC, has shared this tip with me, “We all need to have a little bit of knowledge first – even if we have the audacity to take the steps and take action, we still need guidance. That’s why the wealth of information we have access to today, through books, the internet, podcasts and blogs is just amazing! People can quickly become reasonably knowledgeable in any particular area if they put a little bit of focus study into it.”
Bottom line: You don’t have to spend all your hours in a university library anymore in order to gain intimate knowledge of a subject. There’s no reason to make an uneducated guess about anything. Practically all the information in the world is available at your fingertips with a simple online search and a little time and effort.
Question: What kinds of uneducated guesswork have you been participating in?
Action Item: Educate yourself – and read the point #12 below.
12. They refuse to stop learning.
Tim Ferriss, best-selling author, entrepreneur, angel investor, and public speaker, has told me, “The way you get the most out of every moment you have on the planet, whether that’s personal or for business, is by acquiring new skills and by gradually becoming better at what you do.”
Nobody enters their field knowing everything about their craft or market, and nobody leaves knowing everything either. As our economy and technology constantly evolve, one has to stay on top of their game in order to be able to utilize their skills to their best ability. The goal here is to keep an open mind and always tune in to what’s going on in the world as it relates to your work and passions. Ignorance and refusal to keep learning only benefits your competitors.
Question: What subjects are you actively educating yourself in?
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? In your experience, what do successful people REFUSE to do?