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3 Bad Habits That Keep Success Out of Reach Success requires confidence to begin, discipline to persist and insight to recognize how to improve.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


We all have different definitions of success, and we each have at least one person we admire who personifies our definition of success.

Maybe it's the fellow who sold $5 million in real estate in the past six months, or perhaps it's the woman who was just appointed president of a major company. Maybe it's someone who works less and enjoys life more. You might wonder, "What did they do to get there, and why can't I achieve the same kind of success?"

There's no reason why you can't be just like them. It might be just a few bad habits holding you back. Here are three of the most common career-killing habits and how you overcome them.

1. Self-defeating beliefs.

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve, " is a popular quote from Napoleon Hill and it's true. Instead of saying, "I can't do it," or "It's too risky to try," change your mindset to an "I can" attitude. Successful people stay focused on their goals and set systems in place to achieve them.

How to fix it: Picture yourself being successful. Create a vision board of what success looks like for you, believe you can achieve it and take the necessary steps to ensure that success.

Related: 6 Toxic Beliefs That Can Ruin Your Career

2. Lack of self discipline.

According to best-selling author and personal success authority Brian Tracy, the most successful men and women are those who work almost all the time on high-value tasks, not on low-value activities. Unfortunately, if you're like many entrepreneurs, you let the little things get in the way of the big ones, like dropping everything to solve a problem when the phone rings, or spending three hours putting stamps on envelopes.

How to fix it: The first discipline is goals. Make a written list of what you want to accomplish over the next week, month, quarter, year and out, set priorities and define the steps to achieve those goals. Then discipline yourself to spend 80 percent of your time on these tasks alone. Allow yourself to hire out the low-value activities in order to free yourself to focus on the high-value tasks that will help you achieve your goals. Keep a daily "victory" log or journal and write down what you have achieved.

Related: Here's How People Without Self Discipline Can Achieve Big Goals

3. Being haphazard.

As Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams Realty, says, "Results don't produce results, actions produce results." You need a model for success, and you need to repeat that formula again and again.

Know your numbers: how many contacts does it take to get an appointment, and how many appointments does it take to get a sale? If you know it takes 10 contacts to produce one appointment, and it takes five appointments to close one sale, then you must make 50 contacts to produce one sale. Divided by five work days, that results in making 10 contacts per day each week. Make these ten contacts your first high-value action each day.

How to fix it: The good news is that you don't have to come up with the magic formula yourself. Look at the actions others took to achieve success and copy those actions. There are success models already in place for almost every achievement. If the model is successful for someone, it might also be successful for you. All you have to do is discipline yourself to follow them.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said, "There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened." If you learn to implement these three habits, you will be the person who makes things happen.

Related: A 3-Step Formula to Success -- Really

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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