20 Things Successful People Never Do

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By Alex Daniel, Best Life

When you're looking for inspiration as you try to move up in your career or improve yourself generally, the best source, of course, is those who've achieved what you're setting out to achieve. But that doesn't only mean doing what other successful people have done—it's just as important to pay attention to what they're not doing. Successful people know to avoid time-wasting activities, morale-draining company, and generally negative ways of thinking. And when you know what not to do, too, you can focus your attention on all the forward-moving changes that will propel you in the right direction. With that in mind, we spoke with career and lifestyle experts to share the find out all the things that successful people never do. Because the don'ts are just as important as the dos.

1. Speak negatively of themselves.

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It may sound overly simplistic, but the most important difference between those who succeed in life and those who don't is how they talk about themselves. If you speak negatively about yourself, discounting your achievements and insinuating you can't do something, that only serves to hurt your ability to succeed down the line.

"You can transform your life using the power of the spoken word," says James Sweigert, a lifestyle expert and author of If You Say So. "There is greatness in all of us and the universe wants us all to flourish. Claim and manifest the things you want. Make your mind up to be happy! The universe will present any story you tell it, negative or positive. So be on your own side."

2. Start the day without a plan.

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Your chance at success starts from the first moments of your day. Successful people don't just go where the wind takes them every morning—they decide what to direct their energy toward, and they follow through throughout the day.

"Outlining your day is essential to ongoing consistent success," says Erica Latrice, a career and business development coach. "Without a plan for the day, it's easy to get sucked into time drainers like checking your email nonstop, social media scrolling, and tackling other people's emergencies while putting your priorities on the back burner." 

3. Let their skills atrophy.

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You know that you need to work out your body, but are you working out your mind? Just like your muscles, your professional skills need to be developed and improved on to stay in good shape. Successful people make sure to balance leg day with some serious stretching and refreshing of their knowledge.

"After studying the patterns of hundreds of people in business that I admire, one thing that they all have in common is a hunger for learning," says Latrice. "They are constantly reading books, watching training, and feeding their minds with tools to grow in their field."

4. Dwell on their haters.

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Everyone's a critic. Sometimes it's helpful to know what your haters are saying about you, but you don't want to let them plant seeds of self-doubt in your mind, and you definitely don't want to internalize their critical voices. It's easy to become so focused on proving the haters wrong that you forget what you wanted to do in the first place. So the best solution is to tune them out.

"Successful people know they're doing amazing things with their life, and continue to focus on their dreams and goals," says Lindsey Dinneen, a success, wellness, and lifestyle coach at Life, But Better. "View your opposition as supporters in disguise, because they wouldn't hate or compete with you if you weren't 'worthy' of their notice."

5. Wait until they're ready.

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When major opportunities arrive, they're going to feel overwhelming and daunting—that's what makes them major! But successful people power through the feeling that they don't have enough experience and can't meet the challenge. Don't let your self-doubt keep you from trying.

"You will never be fully ready to start that business, or ask for that promotion, so be as prepared as you can, but then dive in headfirst," says Dinneen. "If you wait until you're ready, you'll be waiting your entire life."

6. Procrastinate.

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Let's be honest, we all procrastinate every now and then, whether it's about that pile of laundry you keep putting off or that résumé you keep saying you'll update, but never do. Successful people have learned how to overcome the habit of putting off what's most important. They get a rush not from the relief they feel by delaying something to another day, but by pushing forward, getting the task done that they said they'd do, and checking it off their list.

"If there's something that needs to get done, it's imperative to meet your deadline," urges Dinneen. "Putting off a difficult or unpleasant task only wastes precious time and can lead you to worrying about it for way longer than you need to."

7. Relentlessly collaborate.

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8. Avoid any conflict.

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Like collaboration, avoiding conflict generally falls into the "things you should do" category. But there are definitely limits. If you're avoiding conflict even in situations where you've been seriously wronged, you'll find that you've opened the door to more lines being crossed. If you don't address something that bothers you, it's only going to get worse.

"Avoiding conflict can be useful in situations where you're too upset to have a productive conversation," says Goldman-Wetzler. "But when you avoid conflict regardless of the particular circumstances, you become incommunicative, which allows situations to fester, making them worse, not better. Conflict is prolonged in 'simmer mode' and often eventually breaks out again, sometimes more intensely than before."

9. Blame others.

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When something goes wrong, it's tempting to put the blame on literally anyone else. But over time, that kind of behavior can hurt you even more than it hurts the people you're blaming.

"When your good intention to 'win' a conflict warps into blaming and attacking others, your behavior can have a demoralizing effect: Other people with strong personalities are liable to react by counterattacking you, while people who are conflict avoidant shut down completely," says Goldman-Wetzler. "This produces a loss rather than the win you intended. Sometimes you lose face, while other times you lose money, relationships, time, energy, and focus."

10. Allow their emotions to be hijacked.

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