Com­mon bad be­hav­iors that in­hibit suc­cess

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Success - By Ilya Pozin

An en­tire in­dus­try has sprung up around the pur­suit of suc­cess, full of self­help books, mo­ti­va­tional con­fer­ences and dec­o­ra­tive Etsy items with up­lift­ing mes­sages.

But self-im­prove­ment doesn’t re­quire shelling out tons of cash for a patented and trade­marked for­mula for suc­cess. Your best self is likely just a few slight ad­just­ments away.

I know I add qual­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity to my day just by eat­ing break­fast. It’s not ex­pen­sive and it’s a sim­ple act. It’s just a bowl of ce­real to kick­start my mind and body each day. Too of­ten I rush out in the morn­ing, liv­ing on re­peat, never cor­rect­ing my bad habits.

Ev­ery repet­i­tive ac­tion that we take in our daily lives, good or bad, is a habit we’ve built up over time. Ac­cord­ing to Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” this is due to a three-step pat­tern he calls the habit loop. The de­ci­sion­mak­ing part of the brain goes into a kind of sleep mode when the habit loop kicks in, which is why we con­tinue even prob­lem­atic be­hav­iors.

While this is great for those healthy, suc­cess-build­ing habits, it isn’t use­ful for chang­ing neg­a­tive be­hav­iors. The good news is that there’s a way to break the habit loop.

What it takes is chang­ing the en­vi­ron­ment that nor­mally cues up the habit loop.

“If you want to quit smok­ing,” says Duhigg, “you should stop smok­ing while you’re on a va­ca­tion — be­cause all your old cues and all your old re­wards aren’t there any­more. So you have this abil­ity to form a new pat­tern and hope­fully be able to carry it over into your life.”

Ev­ery­one’s bad habits are dif­fer­ent, of course, but there are some com­mon ones. Try work­ing on these, and you’ll be on your way to a more suc­cess­ful life:

1. Don’t talk so much

Some of the key pil­lars of suc­cess — learn­ing, build­ing re­la­tion­ships, es­tab­lish­ing con­nec­tions — have one thing in com­mon: You’ll never ac­com­plish them if you’re the only one talk­ing. Train­ing your­self to ac­tu­ally lis­ten dur­ing a meet­ing will make you more ef­fec­tive than men­tally draft­ing your next pro­nounce­ment.

Tom Peters, author and of “The Ex­cel­lence Div­i­dend,” writes the word “LIS­TEN” on his hand as a reg­u­lar re­minder to pass the mic dur­ing meet­ings. Lis­ten­ing is es­pe­cially im­por­tant in a busi­ness set­ting, where sales­peo­ple tend to pre­pare their next pitch in­stead of lis­ten­ing to a cus­tomer.

Re­train your brain to fo­cus on what oth­ers are telling you.

2. Read as much as you can

Be­ing well-read is a huge boost. A study by the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh and King’s Col­lege Lon­don re­searchers found that there is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween early read­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in kids and higher cog­ni­tive func­tion.

Leisure read­ers even re­port less stress and hap­pier lives, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Univer­sity of Liver­pool.

Even more im­pres­sive, a study pub­lished in Neu­rol­ogy found that se­niors who had en­gaged in reg­u­lar men­tal ac­tiv­ity like read­ing through­out their lives were less likely to de­velop the brain plaques that cause de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s, mean­ing that the sim­ple act of read­ing may have helped keep their mem­o­ries sharp in old age.

3. Give it a rest

There’s a rea­son that Calm, an app that fea­tures sleep sto­ries read by nar­ra­tors like Stephen Fry and Anna Ac­ton, was Ap­ple’s 2017 iPhone app of the year. It’s all about sooth­ing the mind and en­cour­ag­ing a rest­ful state.

Even Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos said in an in­ter­view with Thrive Global that he gets eight hours of sleep ev­ery night, so there’s no rea­son you shouldn’t pri­or­i­tize a health­ier shut-eye rou­tine.

Some of us find catch­ing enough Z’s eas­ier said than done, but there are some tricks that can help you reach dream­land with­out med­i­ca­tion.

2920 Sleep, an on­line mat­tress re­tailer, rec­om­mends writ­ing down one bad habit that’s ag­i­tat­ing your sleep, such as too many night­caps, and try­ing to kick it for five days. The sim­ple act of writ­ing it down can spur you to take cor­rec­tive ac­tion.

In ad­di­tion, power down at least an hour be­fore you go to sleep. Put down all de­vices and fo­cus on re­lax­ing.

4. Re­think your re­la­tion­ships

One of the great­est pre­dic­tors of health, hap­pi­ness and longevity has noth­ing to do with quit­ting smok­ing or eat­ing break­fast. In­stead, it’s about cul­ti­vat­ing stronger, more ful­fill­ing re­la­tion­ships with oth­ers.

An eight-decade, on­go­ing Har­vard Univer­sity study shows a strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween healthy re­la­tion­ships and healthy in­di­vid­u­als. Per­haps there are toxic peo­ple in your life. Ex­am­ine your friend­ships and de­cide if you need to back away from some­one who doesn’t make you feel good about your­self.

Im­prov­ing the qual­ity of your friend­ships will go a long way to­ward en­sur­ing you live a long and happy life.

Ilya Pozin is the founder of Pluto TV, Co­plex and Open Me.

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