9 Mental Habits That Keep You From Having a Success Mindset
A lack of the right mindset will push brakes on having results even with the best business strategies.
Many great mentors, such as Tony Robbins, emphasize how success is 80% psychology or mindset and only 20% strategy.
But what does that mean? And why mindset has such a significant role?
Implementing different strategies in business, sales, etc., requires working mainly with our conscious minds until we make something a habit and master a skill.
According to neuropsychologist Mark Solms, working memory can only hold roughly seven bits of information in the conscious mind at any one point in time. That means that around 95% of our goal-directed activities are executed subconsciously.
Our subconscious mind’s seat is in the limbic system, which is the part of our brain that is responsible for our behavior and emotion.
While strategies can be changed as gloves to find the right one, negative mental programming will apply to every new strategy you try to implement in your business and life unless you change it.
Here are nine fundamental mental habits that hold entrepreneurs and high-achievers back from having a proper success mindset.
#1 — Blaming circumstances and people, a.k.a. making up excuses
There are two ways you can view life: either as a victim or a creator.
Victim mentality is all about” why is this happening to me?” and creator mentality is all about “what can I do to make it work?”
Victims see that life is happening to them, so they assume life is against them through different circumstances. They may assume someone’s against them just by not receiving an answer to an e-mail or a message, while in all honesty, the person was just so caught up in their works. Victims give in to fear and worry when things don’t go their way instead of seeing challenges as opportunities for growth.
Victims compare themselves with others. Seeing their success, they think, “They must have had some lucky circumstances — I wish I also would have such luck!”
You can't think and act like a victim, and expect victory! — Bill Bartmann
The reason why victim mentality does not work is that it sees everything as obstacles instead of opportunities. Because of that, victims are not taking action. They make up excuses that validate the external obstacles, such as “I don’t have enough time,” “I am not smart enough,” “I was not born in the right family,” etc.
From my own experience, it is easy to slip into the victim mode even after you think you’ve dealt with it. I thought I was done with it, but the Covid-19 crisis and the change of plans showed me that there still was this limiting mindset in me. I had to deal with it on a new level.
That’s why you always need to be on guard against the victim mentality. There is always something you can do. And if you can’t do anything physically about the situation, you can do something mentally.
Choose the right mindset (winning mindset), have faith for the best possible outcome, and take actions aligned with that.
#2 — Sense of entitlement
A sense of entitlement is the opposite of gratitude. Sense of entitlement is an attitude of, “Things should be easier,” “Someone should help me,” “Someone else should do the hard things,” etc.
According to the best-selling author Rory Vaden, a sense of entitlement shows up when we get used to the convenience of having things easy. Soon we have a perception that things shouldn’t be so hard.
When you have a sense of entitlement, you take things for granted and forget to appreciate what is working well.
There is a difference, though, between the necessity to feel worthy of amazing things, events, people, results in your life, and the sense of entitlement.
I have had to rewire my brain to assure myself that I am truly worthy of success, love, meaningful relationships, financial abundance, etc. However, I also have had to be attentive not to fall into the “I should have this all without trying too hard” hole.
When I feel that things should come easy — “I don’t need to work that hard to earn amazing things in my life” — I eventually fall into the victim mentality again. And I unconsciously sabotage myself by not taking action necessary to reach my goals.
The antidote of entitlement is gratitude. — Rory Vaden
Gratitude fits successful people. Avoid a sense of entitlement by being thankful for opportunities you have, for other people motivating you and helping you, and anything going well that you usually would take for granted.
#3 — Seeking validation before taking action
Seeking validation before taking action is the feeling that you need permission from somebody to be who you are.
This has held me back a lot at the beginning of my coaching business. Instead of creating a new Instagram account for business, I converted my personal Instagram account to a business account when I started the business. It means that a part of my followers were people who had known me for years.
Because I have had all different relationships with these people in the past, I did care what they think about me. Most of them were not my audience for my coaching business.
But still, instead of keeping my audience’s needs in mind, I let myself get too preoccupied with what they might think of my posts. Every time I prepared a post, I censored myself a little bit, fearing what someone might think or say.
I felt as if I mentally needed their validation to make a post the way I had initially thought.
How about you — have you ever silenced yourself from something you wanted to say or do because of fear of what people around you might think?
Or have you said or done something you did not want because of what you think others expected?
Remember that it is always your interpretation of what they might think and say. The reality can be very different because even if you know people, you can’t fully predict their thoughts and actions.
#4 — Waiting for the perfect moment to act
My experience with perfectionism has been that perfectionism was my constant companion for many years of my life, and I somehow thought it helps me.
As I started my business, I realized how perfectionism, in reality, is the root of my procrastination. I had the illusion of “arriving at the destination” where I and the circumstances around me are going to be perfect for taking action.
Needless to say that this moment never came. I only lost time.
If we want to be successful, we have to give up the need to do things perfectly and appreciate any progress we make.
Messy action is better than no action.
The truth bomb is that if you wait for things (and you) to be perfect, it is hard for you to improve. If you are only learning and studying without taking action, you can only remember certain things from theory without practice.
But, if you are taking action, even if you make mistakes and fail (which you will), you have the chance to learn and improve the specific things for your situation.
That is how you can make progress faster.
According to neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change) happens faster when making mistakes instead of doing things perfectly.
He also adds that we need to attach the positive thought process (which releases dopamine) to the process instead of the outcome.
Whatever you believe in, whether it’s positive or negative, your mind rewards you with dopamine. You need to attach the dopamine release to the process of effort or goal-setting itself. And if you can attach dopamine release to the belief that you’re at least heading in the right direction, you’ll have more energy to keep going in the right direction. People make the mistake of thinking that the positive thought process should be attached to the finish line. — Andrew Huberman
#5 — Spending time on non-essential things that don’t move the needle
The things that require our attention get more and more each day. There is plenty of information (good and helpful information). It has become even more essential to prioritize tasks.
What are the things you can eliminate from your daily schedule?
What tasks can you delegate to someone else?
Or if you are a solopreneur — what things you have to say “no” to right now to accomplish your main goal for this month?
From my experience, this also relates to perfectionism tendency. It is a feeling that everything is essential. In a way, it is a “fear of missing out.” You are afraid that you will miss out on the successful results of this activity by not completing a particular detail.
For some others, it can also be the fear of letting go of control. If you feel like you can’t delegate and trust tasks to others, it can sign trust issues.
The classic example from Tim Ferris’s book 4-Hour Work Week is about calculating how much an hour of your time is worth. If you focus on the main income bringing activities, you can earn 50 USD per hour, but the little detail you also want to do can be delegated to someone you would pay 30 USD to do it, then it is a no-brainer you need to delegate this task.
It is harder for solopreneurs who are just starting and need to do everything for their business: be a CEO, content creator, social media manager, videographer, etc.
A good idea is to write down all the tasks you need to do and then prioritize them, according to Steven Covey’s time management matrix.
You may only accomplish the most important tasks at this time and need to leave non-essential things for a time when you can hire employees.
#6 — FOMO (Fear of missing out)
Entrepreneurs and freelancers need to be especially careful about which activities they say “yes” to and which they say “no” to.
You’ve probably heard of the “shiny object syndrome” — feeling like every new opportunity that crosses your path is essential.
In truth, this might be a sign that you don’t trust yourself and your abilities so much. You might be fearing failure. You feel as if you need to use every opportunity and gain every possible knowledge to prevent your chances of failing.
When I started learning about different online business opportunities, I began to pursue 3–4 different business ideas at the same time in fear of what if some of them don’t work or I can’t get successful in them.
Trying to catch all these “rabbits” simultaneously resulted in no tangible results in any of them.
The fear of missing out on things makes you miss out on everything. — Etty Hillesum
When I started my coaching business, I wanted to learn from every possible Masterclass and every possible coach because I feared missing out on valuable information.
After a while, I got so confused about the different strategies they all used and didn’t implement them well. I lost time I could have used to master well one technique.
If you are also struggling with FOMO, you need to stop being reactive to all the information thrown your way. You need to filter the information by asking yourself, “Which activity is the most essential for this season of life/business I am in?”
You might encounter a great idea or strategy, but this might not be the right season to implement that yet. Put it on your “idea shelves” and get back to it when it is the right time.
#7 — Changing your decisions too often, a.k.a. giving up when things get tougher
This often happens to people when their vision is not strong enough.
I was working in an entrepreneurial program for students, and at the beginning of each new season, students boldly declared their goals.
After few weeks or in the mid-season, around 30% of them had lost their goals and were focusing on something else already.
What I noticed was that their vision — their “why” was not strong enough. They had either “signed up” for their goals because of a herd mentality, or they just hadn’t thought through why the goal is important.
As soon as things got more challenging than expected or a different opportunity crossed their path, they changed their commitment.
Successful people make decisions quickly (as soon as all the facts are available) and change them very slowly (if ever). Unsuccessful people make decisions very slowly and change them often and quickly. — Napoleon Hill
How about you — are you making a firm decision once and then figuring out how to make it work, or are you changing decisions often and constantly doubting yourself?
Of course, there will be goals that will feel like it does not make sense to continue pursuing. However, you need to ask yourself, “Is this goal important to me or my future vision?” If the answer is yes, keep on going until you reach it.
There is a specific process you need to go through to reach it. If you give up too quickly, you might waste your effort without getting a result.
#8 — Saying everything that comes into your mind
Some people often express verbally everything that comes into their mind — positive things and also negative things that they don’t want to be true.
Do you believe that your words are creating your reality?
I used to felt like it is silly to think your words can impact so much. However, neuroscience now proves how our thoughts determine the way we feel and what we say, which determines our behavior.
Saying everything that comes into your mind starts with believing everything that comes into your mind.
What you are speaking about also is what you are focusing on.
When I was selling educational books door-to-door, I had a lot of such lessons. I was facing a lot of rejection, and generally, out of 30–40 contacts during one day, only 3–5 people bought. This was still a good income; however, hearing so many no's can damage the perception and cause limiting beliefs to grow.
There were also zero days when I did not sell anything. After hearing ten no’s in a row, it was easy to complain to the managers at the end of the day, “People are just close-minded here, people don’t care about education here, people are very suspicious here.”
But the more I would say something like that, the more my negative attitude made people act that way when I talked to them. It created this “hard-to-break-out-from” cycle because my thoughts changed my physiology and behavior.
Whenever we notice negative thoughts creeping in that want to limit our opportunities in the external environment, it is our job to stop them and not engage with them. Our job is to create the type of reality we want by consciously choosing the words we speak.
You don’t have to believe every thought that comes into your mind. — Dr. Joe Dispenza.
#9 — Thinking you know it all
Relying upon your past knowledge and thinking you don’t need to learn too many new things to be successful can be a slippery slope.
Often this characteristic creeps up to those who want to feel confident and significant. It is a sign of insecurity when people want to hide behind their past achievements and everything they’ve learned so far.
The world is changing faster than ever; therefore, even with the same old knowledge, there are constantly new perspectives we can learn from others. And there are old perspectives that might not work anymore. So we need to keep an open mind to not miss out on the available potential.
The most successful people in the world keep the humble attitude of learning all through their life. Converse CEO Davide Grasso has said,
I don’t think about making it. I look at life as a journey — not a straight line — so for me, it’s constant learning. — Davide Grasso
Even Sir Richard Branson, after more than 300 businesses built, has said that there’s never been a point in his career in which he has felt that he has made it.
So, keep an open mind and learn from others, learn from your mistakes, upgrade your knowledge constantly and allow others to show you your blind spots.
When we try to make changes in our lives or start something new, we want to learn strategies for what we should do or find one magical thing we need to do differently.
However, according to many successful coaches, such as Christine Hassler, it is not enough to change things on a behavioral level only. For a true transformation, we need to also change things on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.
The habits I have discussed in this article are fundamental game-changers on a mental level, but they also profoundly impact the emotional and behavioral levels.
Once you change the mindset, you have unlocked a potential that will positively impact all the different strategies you will try implementing. However, if your mindset leaks, that will push a brake on all the astonishing strategies you want to implement.