Leadership

11 things you need to give up if you want to be happy and successful

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Ascent/PKS Media Inc. | Getty Images

Stop waiting for happiness and success — you can start achieving them in the present by giving up these toxic things.

When we aim to become happy and have a successful outlook, we often focus on getting to the next station in life. Happiness is seemingly always "someday" in the near-distant future — like once we finally land that promotion or find the right partner.

I'm a huge proponent of setting new aspirational goals, but I also know the severe importance of having a positive outlook on life. Your inner-happiness needs to be harnessed in the present, so you can use the power of positive thinking to reach those new heights eventually.

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When you solely focus on the future to be happy, you end up ignoring the toxic habits and attitudes that could be dragging it down in the present. It won't be a cakewalk, but it is possible to harness a successful and upbeat outlook now with some shifts to your mindsets and habits.

Without further ado, here are those things you need to give up to be happy and successful:

1. Give up FOMO

"Business opportunities are like buses," said Richard Branson. "There's always another one coming."

If you're constantly inundated by the fear of missing out (FOMO) you won't only be less happy, but you'll end up adopting a short-term outlook and spread yourself too thin.

Sir Richard Branson speaking at the Innovation Summit in Brooklyn, New York on July 14, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Sir Richard Branson speaking at the Innovation Summit in Brooklyn, New York on July 14, 2017.

Mega-moguls like Branson know that they have limited resources and time, so they carefully evaluate each opportunity that presents itself. Rather than feeling guilty or sad because they turned down an opportunity, they stay happy and sane knowing another one is right around the corner.

2. Give up unrealistic standards of perfection

While you should never deliver sloppy work or make careless mistakes, expecting yourself to be perfect 24/7 is another unrealistic attitude you need to give up.

As Sheryl Sandberg once wisely asked, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

You'll never be able to leave your comfort zone and expand your success to new horizons if you don't give yourself permission to make a few slip-ups along the way. The ultra-successful are able to redefine failure as part of the learning experience to achieve positive outlooks, and you should too.

3. Give up on expecting praise from others

I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but nobody will take the time to shower you with praise. That's why you have to do it yourself.

Most people in business will only set aside their precious minutes if they see you doing something wrong, or if they want something from you. Sprinkling your ego with dew drops of praise is the furthest thing from their minds.

Sheryl Sandberg speaks about overcoming grief and resilience at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco.
Sheryl Sandberg speaks about overcoming grief and resilience at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco.

You're doing great things, so take the time to recognize it. By 5 PM every day, write down three things that you accomplished. They don't have to be life-changing, just good things that deserve recognition.

Re-read yesterday's entry every morning. If you're feeling low on confidence you can read through a couple of weeks' worth of your many successes and gain confidence and perspective.

Psychologists call this journaling, and it's a proven way to boost your happiness. Start using it today.

4. Give up on negative self-talk

Studies estimate that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute.

If you engage in negative self-talk, that's a lot of nasty words being thrown your way. That's why none other than the U.S. Navy SEALs swear by positive self-talk as a way to take on a strenuous day, and to avoid negativity.

When their oxygen flow is suddenly cut off underwater, SEALs are able to tough it out by telling themselves that everything is fine and thinking positively. So you can probably also use this tip to get through a day at the office.

To start, tell yourself how great your day is going to be as you're riding the subway or driving down the freeway. If you start encountering a rough morning, go outside for a few minutes and repeat some more positive affirmations to yourself.

5. Give up on being defensive

Raise your hand if you just love getting feedback and critiques.

No one?

Okay, so maybe hearing criticism is a little difficult for all of us. But, in order to become more successful, it's necessary. And, to become radically successful, you may even need to start asking for feedback.

Forbes found a strong correlation between leaders who asked for feedback and leaders ranked highest for effectiveness. Leaders who were in the lower 10 percent of people who asked for feedback were only ranked as 17 percent effective by their peers and employees. Meanwhile, leaders who were in the top 10 percent of people who asked for feedback received an average effectiveness rating of 83 percent.

Rather than fearing feedback and defending any critiques, try to be curious of how others view your performance. This curiosity and the process of asking for feedback can be difficult, but ultimately it will provide insight that could be the difference between reaching your goals and falling short.

6. Give up the scarcity mindset

A scarcity mindset is the belief that there's only so much success to go around. In this age of hyper-competitiveness, thinking that someone else's victory "steals" from your own success creeps on almost everyone.

Stephen Covey, the author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," said, "Instead, I have an abundance mentality: When people are genuinely happy at the successes of others, the pie gets larger."

People like Covey see an opportunity in everything, and they don't believe that someone else's success eats away at their own. Whether it's collaborating with others in the field, elevating your teammates, or just saying "why not?" you too can start adopting that same abundance mindset, this very second.

7. Give up on being set in stone

Being determined and motivated is great. But don't fall into the trap of mistaking determination for an unwillingness to change.

Take Jeffery Hazlet, former CMO of Kodak, for instance. When he realized no amount of his sheer will would turn Kodak into the business he wanted, he shifted that determination elsewhere. Now he's a New York Times best-selling author, keynote speaker, and media mogul.

First business models or career plans rarely pan out, but successful people don't keep running towards defeat when that happens. Even if your plan fails, it can still have an impact. By modifying it, you can make it successful, even if it isn't what you originally intended.

8. Give up the short-term mindset

"Don't make a permanent decision from your temporary emotion."  —  Unknown

In my many years in finance, I've seen people throw decades of financial planning out the window because of their emotions. And it's beyond easy to do this in a stressful workplace too.

When successful people find themselves in situations where they're extremely angry, sad, or frustrated, they let themselves ride out those emotions without acting on them. The simple act of waiting to make a decision until you've returned to a levelheaded state can play a huge role in the success you achieve.

9. Give up on the negativity of others

Just like a bad cold, negativity can be incredibly contagious. Although it might temporarily feel good to listen to others venting, don't regret wallowing in a pity party.

"If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction."  —  Melinda Gates

While it's nearly impossible to rid negative thoughts, people and situations altogether (we'll always have good and bad days), we can choose to strip away the parts our life that bring us down and instead refocus that energy towards being the best versions of ourselves.

You can and should choose to surround yourself with passionate, motivated, and aspirational people. I do, and I know it challenges me (instead of dragging me down) daily.

10. Give up comparison

"Comparison is the thief of joy"  —  Theodore Roosevelt

If you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and a big majority of us are, it's time to stop. There will always be someone ahead of you, but the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Theodore Roosevelt shown riding a moose in 1900
George Rinhart | Getty Images
Theodore Roosevelt shown riding a moose in 1900

Whether you are feeling bad because you think your peers are doing better than you, or you are building yourself up based on their failures, both are unproductive and have the potential to be self-destructive.

11. Give up self-doubt

Even when all the signs are pointing towards success, insecurity can easily kill your dreams. In fact, it's so prevalent (especially with successful people), that it's a full-blown condition known as Impostor Syndrome.

To start breaking this nasty habit: Create a list of your skills, talents, and achievements. Read the list regularly and when you're plagued by self-doubt, remind yourself of all the reasons you're "good enough."

Don't underestimate the power of positive thinking and ditching negativity in your life. Make giving up on these habits a part of your Spring Cleaning, and you'll be amazed at how far you eventually get.

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This article was originally published on Medium.