10 Toxic Behaviors to Leave Behind in 2015

Stop and think about all the time and money you waste on stuff that does you absolutely no good whatsoever.

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By Steve Tobak


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Before you turn the page on another year, I want you to try something. No, it's not some dumb New Year's resolution or anything like that.

I just want you to stop and think about all the time and money you waste on stuff that does you absolutely no good whatsoever.

If you're honest with yourself, you'll be amazed at how much you do in the name of instant gratification that serves no real purpose except to distract you from doing what really matters: advancing your career, growing your business, and enjoying life with family and friends.

Why is that toxic behavior? Because, if you spend your life screwing around, you'll wake up one day and realize you've gone nowhere because you made a lot of bad choices. And that's a bitter pill to swallow, I can tell you that.

All you've really got to do is quit doing self-destructive things. What could be easier? In case you're not clear on what I mean by toxic behavior, here are a few suggestions:

The gig mindset.

Everyone has a gazillion little jobs these days. Everyone's an entrepreneur, an investor, an enthusiast, and into a cause or two. Everyone's a CEO of one with all sorts of gigs. That will get you nowhere. Figure out what you love – what you're good at – and focus on just being better at that than anyone else. Don't stop until you find that one thing.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Pass on an MBA

The constant need to be inspired.

Inspiration doesn't come from quotes, posts, or books; it comes from within. If your work doesn't inspire and motivate you, you're in the wrong line of work.

Desperately seeking attention and calling it personal branding.

There's a very good reason why Dan Schawbel's personal branding book was called Me 2.0. Because that's what it's all about. Me, me, me. Truth is, most of what you do online serves just one purpose: to get attention and make you feel important. Unfortunately, it's remarkably destructive.

Being entitled.

When you believe you deserve things you didn't work for or are jealous of what others have, that's entitlement behavior. It means your ego is out of sync with reality. The same is true of magical or wishful thinking. It's childish and toxic. Grow up and face the real world.

Slacking off and calling it work.

It's one thing to have hobbies or enjoy some downtime. It's another thing entirely to waste your time on a bunch of nonsense and call it work. Personal blogging, YouTube, Facebook, online networking … quit wasting time on stuff that doesn't matter and focus on what does. Don't be a slacker.

Buying everything in sight.

Everyone is obsessed with tech gadgets, apps, health and fitness, and productivity. Guess what? The more time and money you spend accumulating stuff, the more it controls you and the less time and money you have for things that really matter. If you don't know what that is, you definitely have a problem.

Following dumb fads.

Whether it's emotional intelligence, 7 habits, a four-hour workweek, a miracle diet or supplements, somebody's dumb morning routine, or the secret to success, if somebody is making money off you by making you their follower, you deserve exactly what you get out of it. Nothing.

Related: 10 Mindsets of a True Winner

Being a cause junky.

If you really want to make a difference, find what you're passionate about and work hard to become great at that. If you're successful, then you'll make tons of money you can use to help your causes. Until you do that, you're not doing anyone any good, least of all yourself.

Faking it "til you make it.

Success in business is about building your relationships and your reputation. It's about gaining credibility by meeting your commitments and achieving your goals. Your actions are your brand. If you run a business, your product is your brand. Faking it is nothing but bad acting.

Trying to be anyone but the genuine you.

We live in a world of virtual facades – personas that reflect how we want to be perceived, not who we really are. That's no way to live. And it's no way to be successful or happy. Instead of trying to be what you're not, try becoming the best version of you. The world doesn't need more avatars; the world needs more you.

Now, if I can just get you folks to leave all this toxic behavior in the past, that'll be one less thing for me to worry about in 2016. Besides, then I'll get to move on to some more stimulating topics. Wouldn't that be nice?

Wishing you all a prosperous, safe, and happy New Year. And if you really want to kill it in 2016, buy my new book, Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur. Learn more at stevetobak.com.

Related: Are You Living Your Life or Someone Else's?

Steve Tobak

Author of Real Leaders Don't Follow

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, October 2015). Tobak runs Silicon Valley-based Invisor Consulting and blogs at stevetobak.com, where you can contact him and learn more.

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