5 ways you’re disrupting your own chances of being successful, according to psychology

Ever feel like you’re working hard but getting nowhere? It’s like you’re on one of those little hamster wheels, trying as hard as you can but making very little progress. 

It’s frustrating, right?

I’ve always been laser-focused on achieving success quickly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a corporate job or starting my own business, I’m hardwired for efficiency and success. When I don’t make progress as quickly as I’d like, it’s annoying and disheartening. 

But here’s the thing: sometimes I get in my own way. I have habits and do things that prevent me from being successful. What I’ve realized is I’m not unique in this. 

Experts have been researching this stuff for years and it turns out there are a few key things that lots of people are doing to hinder their success, without realizing it.

Today I’m sharing 5 of the biggest ways you’re disrupting your own chances of being successful, according to the experts. 

You know what they say ‘Awareness is the first step to change.’ 

Let’s get started.

1) You’re a perfectionist

Are you the kind of person who has to make sure every detail is just right in almost everything you do? 

There’s nothing wrong with striving to meet high standards, it can be very motivating and lead to a lot of success. But what if it’s actually disrupting your chances of being successful? 

Being a perfectionist means having unrealistically high expectations and constantly striving to be flawless. The problem is it’s unattainable. Perfect doesn’t exist so in reality you’re setting yourself up for failure by aiming for it. 

Striving for perfection slowed me down for sure. I wanted to start my own business but I was waiting until I had all the skills to be perfect. One day it hit me, 3 years had passed and I’d made no progress toward my goals. I finally realized that ‘done is better than perfect’. 

As outlined by Deep Patel, entrepreneur and best-selling author “It’s not about getting it perfect. It’s about getting it out the door, and then adjusting from there.” Being successful isn’t about being perfect. It’s about trying, failing, learning from your mistakes, and giving it another go.

Believe it or not: being a perfectionist is one of the things that’s keeping you from being successful. Forget perfection, focus on progress and execution instead.  

2) You’ve got a fixed mindset 

One of the biggest barriers to success is having a fixed mindset. People like this believe their talents and abilities can’t be improved. They see criticism and failure as a threat to their self-worth. They feel uncertain about taking on challenges for fear of failure. 

Does this resonate with you? It’s easy to see how a fixed mindset could hold you back from being successful. 

On the other hand: people with a growth mindset believe their talents can be developed through practice. They view challenges as opportunities to learn and they embrace failure because they know that each time they fail, they’re one step closer to success. 

Carol Dweck, the renowned researcher who coined the term ‘growth mindset’ says that even if you weren’t born with a growth mindset, you can develop one. Dweck has done extensive research that finds having a growth mindset improves your chance of success. 

If a fixed mindset has been holding you back, now’s the time to start working on developing a growth mindset to help you achieve your goals.

lonely in life but never open up about it 5 ways you’re disrupting your own chances of being successful, according to psychology

3) You engage in negative self-talk

Are you guilty of letting the voice in your head put you down, criticize you, and say mean things like “Of course, I messed this up, I never get anything right”?

That’s what negative self-talk is all about and although some negativity is normal (we can’t be perfectly positive all the time, right?), too much is unhealthy and can have a big impact on you. 

One of the biggest issues with negative self-talk that experts agree on, is it actually reduces your chance of success. 

“One of the most obvious drawbacks of negative self-talk is that it’s not positive. This sounds simplistic, but research has shown that positive self-talk is a great predictor of success,” explains Elizabeth Scott, wellness coach and author. 

A recent study comparing the impact of different types of self-talk on athletes found that positive self-talk was the greatest predictor of success. 

There’s no doubt about it, engaging in negative self-talk is disrupting your chances of being successful. 

4) You constantly put off important tasks 

Are you a serial procrastinator? 

We’re all guilty of putting things off, now and again, right? But some people are more prone to it than others. Research finds that 20% of people are chronic procrastinators.

“Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadlines.” as outlined by psychology educator and author Kendra Cherry MS.

It might seem like a pretty innocent and trivial thing but research finds procrastination has some surprisingly negative side effects such as: 

  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Loneliness
  • Depression and anxiety

It also reduces your chances of being successful. 

Here’s the thing: when it comes to success, studies show that momentum is key. Building small wins increases confidence and your likelihood of success. 

Procrastination kills the flow and brings everything to a halt, you know?

If you want to be successful, you’ve got to stop procrastinating and start building momentum. 

5) You ignore self-care

Are you the kind of person who works 12-16 hour days?

And it’s not just your full-time job, you spend your evenings and weekends working on side hustles you’re trying to get off the ground.

Look, I get it: you want to be successful and you’ll stop at nothing to get there. You know that it’ll take hard work and you’re willing to put it in, right? That’s great but pushing too hard might actually disrupt your chances of being successful. 

Working non-stop means you don’t have time in your life for self-care practices like mindfulness, getting enough sleep, time in nature, and exercise. All of these are vital for success. Mindfulness alone encourages peak performance by:

  • Reducing multi-tasking and lack of focus
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Improving listening and engagement
  • Helping prevent burnout

I know it might seem counterintuitive to sacrifice valuable work time to look after yourself but if you keep skipping out on taking care of yourself, you’re bound to hit a wall of burnout eventually. And then you’re chances of being successful are drastically reduced and delayed.  

The bottom line

When you’re driven to be successful, it’s hard to avoid falling into some of these traps. I know I’ve been guilty of a few of these things, how about you? 

The good news is: all of the things we’ve talked about today can be reduced with a little hard work and dedication.

And the best part of all is tackling these obstacles massively improves your chances of success. Which one of these are you eliminating first?

Cat Harper

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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