45 Things Successful People Don’t Do

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.


Things Successful People Never Do

#1 – They don’t wait for the perfect moment to take action.

Have you ever heard someone say “I am waiting for the right moment”? We like to think there is the right moment to find a new job or to start a business or to take a vacation.

Successful people succeed because they take action. They don’t wait for the right moment. They make a plan and take the necessary steps to reach their goals.

People who fail to succeed wait for the right moment. Unfortunately, there is no right time. There is action and inaction. The only way to succeed is to take action. Stop waiting. Take action. Succeed. 


#2 – They don’t wait for other people’s approval.

Sometimes we care too much about what other people think. It makes sense to get other peoples’ input. Waiting for the approval of your friends or family could have a debilitating impact on your life.

Successful people listen to input, but they don’t need anyone’s approval to take action. You might have to make an unpopular decision to go forward. If you wait for approval, you might fail to make the necessary steps to succeed.

#3  – They don’t set crazy goals.

The only way to succeed is to set goals. It is important to find a balance between goals and goals that will set you up for failure. If you make $50,000 per year, a goal to make $1,000,000 million dollars in the next month is a crazy goal. It might make you feel good for a moment, but it will be almost impossible.

Successful people set realistic goals. To use the example above, if you make $50,000 per year, aim to increase your salary by 25%. That is a realistic goal. The chance of reaching your goal is very doable. Once you have reached the $25% increase, you can set another goal to increase your salary by another 25% within the next 12-months.

#4 – They don’t set too many goals.

It is great to be ambitious. You might want to lose 30 pounds, find a job that pays twice as much as your current job, buy a house, take your dream vacation, and learn Spanish. The problem with this is that you only have so much time and energy to reach your goals. Setting too many goals will result in failure.

Prioritize your goals. Focus on your more important immediate goals. Create a list of your short-term goals and another for your long-term goals.


#5 – They don’t spend too much time on Facebook.

Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. It is also a great way to waste time. If you waste 10 minutes a day on Facebook, you are wasting over 60 hours or two and a half days. In other words, without wasting time on Facebook, you could spend an extra 60 hours a year to reach your goals.

Facebook is not the only culprit. Research shows that the average American spends more than 3-hours on social networking each day. That comes to more than 45-days wasted. How many more of your goals could you reach if you had an extra 45-days every year?

#6 – They don’t expect success to be quick or easy.

Successful people know that reaching goals takes time and effort. They don’t expect to reach goals easily. People who fail to see other people succeed, but they don’t understand the time and effort it takes to get there.

#7 – They don’t confuse busy with productive.

Business gets in the way of success. Successful people know what to focus on to reach their goals. Multitasking is the opposite of productive. If you are too busy, you are focusing on the wrong things.

Successful people don’t have to tell the world how busy they are. Their results speak for themselves.

Busy people want the world to know that they are busy. Successful people have a mission to accomplish. If you understand the Pareto principle, you know that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts.

Busy people take action before thinking through the pros and cons of their actions. Successful people carefully plan each action.

Successful people have no problem eliminating tasks that would make them less productive. If you want to succeed, you must be selective about your activities.

While busy people tell you they have no time, successful people make time for what matters the most.

#8 – They don’t take action without careful planning.

Taking action is easy. Planning is hard. Successful people know that planning is required before taking action.

Planning will help you to succeed for several reasons:

  • You will research.
  • You will know what it takes to succeed.
  • When you plan, you will know how long it should take to reach a goal.
  • You will understand what skills are required to succeed.
  • You will learn what you don’t know yet.
  • You will know if your goal is realistic.

#9 – They don’t point fingers.

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Weak people often blame others. They blame other people for their own mistakes. They blame their circumstances.

Successful people own up to their mistakes. They say, “I am sorry,” and they move on. Successful people understand when they make mistakes. Instead of blaming others, they apologize and move on.



#10 – They don’t waste time on useless tasks.

You can spend your day any way you want. You can choose to tackle tasks that are important. Or, you can keep busy with useless tasks.

Successful people refuse to waste time on useless tasks.

#11 – They don’t shy away from difficult challenges.

Successful people are ready to do the hard things. People who fail focus on the path of least resistance.

Successful people deal with difficult situations in the following ways:

  • They make a plan.
  • They are not afraid to ask for help.
  • They don’t dwell on what they can’t change.
  • They don’t take action based on emotion.

#12 – They don’t make decisions based on fear.

You might be in a bad relationship for years because you are afraid to make a change. Successful people make decisions based on facts. They consider the pros and cons of their decisions. Fear is not a legitimate pro or con to make a decision.

#13 – They don’t allow lazy people to bring them down.

Sometimes the people closest to you can do the most damage. Negativity is infectious. If you surround yourself with lazy and negative people, they will bring you down.

Successful people surround themselves with positive people. Successful people spend time with people who are successful, stimulating, and positive.


#14 – They don’t mind investing in their education.

You can’t succeed without learning. Successful people know that it is important to invest in their education. Reading books, taking courses, attending seminars are just a few ways to invest in your education.

#15 – They don’t allow others to make major life decisions for them.

Successful people know where they are heading. They neither solicit nor allow others to make major life decisions for them.

It is fine to listen to people you respect. But, you should make your own decisions.

#16 – They consume in moderation.

All-you-can-eat buffets, credit cards, streaming movies make it difficult to live a life in moderation. Everything in moderation is a great way to live a successful life. When you consume in moderation, you are in control of your emotions.

A life in moderation will result in financial stability, a healthier diet, and a better life balance.

#17 – They don’t take no for an answer.

Ask a successful person, and she will tell you many stories about rejection. If you ever applied for a job, you know that most employers will ignore your resume. If you try to sell a service, you know that most people will refuse to buy. Successful people are able to rise above the rejections and go forward. A “no” is just another step toward success.

#18 – They don’t avoid the hard decisions.

Hard decisions separate successful people from failures. Decisions such as having a difficult conversation with your boss about a raise or to start a small business are difficult. Shying away from talking to your boss about a raise will never get you the salary you deserve.

Some people would prefer to “get more information” instead of making a hard decision. They hope that the problem will resolve itself. The problem is that kicking the can down the road will prevent you from success.

#19 – They don’t shy away from responsibilities.

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”

Albert Einstein

Successful people are able to grow because they take responsibility for their actions. Not taking responsibility might be easier today, but there will be a price to pay. When you don’t take responsibility, you will fail to move forward.

#20 – They don’t shy away from failure.

Kurt Vonnegut received this rejection letter in 1951.

Would you have continued to write, if you have received a rejection letter like this?

#21 – They don’t put others before their family.

It is much easier to succeed with a strong family behind you. You can always count on your spouse or your children. Keep them in mind as you are pursuing your goals.


#22 – They don’t resist change.

There is no way to succeed without embracing change. If you want to lose weight, you have to change your diet. If you want a better job, you might need to learn new skills or earn a college degree. To save more for your retirement, you have to change your spending habits. Successful people understand that they will not succeed without change.

#23 – They don’t trust data without verification.

If you want to succeed, you have to make sure that you have your facts right. Make sure that your decisions are based on verified information. Use credible sources. Verify information using multiple sources.

#24 – They don’t allow their bodies to fall out of shape.

The first step to success is a healthy body.

When you stay in shape, you are more likely to succeed for several reasons:

  • You will be healthier.
  • You will sleep better.
  • You will be in a better mood.
  • It will reduce your anxiety.
  • You will have more energy.
  • You will have greater confidence.
  • More likely to reach your potential.

#25 – They don’t allow their to-do list to grow too long.

Successful people focus on the few things that matter. They eliminate unimportant tasks.

#26 – They are not motivated by money.

Money isn’t enough motivation to reach your goals. Successful people are motivated by the process, not the money. If you love what you do, you will more likely to succeed. If you are only motivated by money, you are most likely to fail.

People who succeed are more likely to enjoy the journey. To succeed, you have to feel good about what you do. You have to take pride in what you do.

#27 – They don’t try to be the smartest person in the room.

Successful people know that they can’t succeed alone. They are not afraid to get help to reach their goals. They are constantly learning. They reach out to smarter and more successful people. They ask for help.

Before you reach out for help, you should:

  • Read about the topic and learn to have a basic understanding.
  • Study how others reached the same goals you want.
  • Keep your mind open.

#28 – They don’t make decisions without facts.

The quickest decision is based on emotions. The best decisions are made based on facts. Successful people make their decisions on well-researched facts.

#29 – They don’t end a day without an outline for the following day.

You are more likely to succeed if you start your day with a list of tasks to do. Before you end your day, make a list of the most important tasks for the following day.

#30 – They don’t have any problem with saying No.

When you say “no,” you are staying focused on the most important tasks. Successful people know that they must focus on a few important tasks to reach their goals.

#31 – They don’t overwork.

Successful people don’t need to overwork. They understand the difference between quantity and quality. It is not the hours of work you put into a project, but the quality of time and attention that matters.

Successful people don’t have to overwork because they know that:

  • Overwork is bad for your well being.
  • Most work doesn’t need to be done. It is what we call busywork.
  • Overwork is the enemy of quality work.
  • Eight hours of sleep is required to live a healthy life.
  • When you overwork, you are setting a bad example for your loved ones and your teammates.
  • Getting more work done is not the secret to success; getting the right work done is.
  • When you overwork, you are destroying your relationships.

#32 – They don’t mismanage time.

Successful people treat time as the most valuable asset they own. Each day they are driven by a must do list. No matter what they accomplish, each item on the must do list.

Successful people understand what they need to do each day and what others need to do for them each day to get things done.

Here are a few tips on improving your time management:

  • Only check your email once or twice a day.
  • Schedule a time each day for thinking creatively each day. Don’t allow any interruptions during your thinking time.
  • Avoid meetings.
  • If you must have meetings keep them as short as possible.
  • Only add events to your calendar that move you closer to reaching your most important goals.
  • Work out to stay in shape. You will be more productive when you are healthy.
  • Avoid time wasters like Facebook and other social media.
  • Purge clutter from your desk and work environment.

#33 – They don’t take the good things in life for granted.

Successful people appreciate what matters most in life. They take inventory of everything they are grateful for. They know that the journey is more important than the destination.

If you want to succeed, practice gratitude at least once a day. Think about the best part of your day. What are you most grateful about? Practice gratitude with the people around you.

Gratitude must include even the smallest things in life. Be grateful for a hot cup of tea, a good night of sleep, a sunny day, or a short walk.

#34 – They are not stingy with their time and money when it comes to helping others.

Successful people know that they can make a difference in other people’s lives. When you help others succeed you also succeed.

When you help others to achieve their goals, you make the world a better place.


#35 – They don’t allow bad habits in their lives.

Bad habits reduce your chance for success. Bad habits are either bad for your health, waste time, or destroy your relationships. If you want to succeed, eliminate as many of your bad habits as you can.

Some of the most common success killing bad habits are:

  • Killing time on Facebook or other social networks.
  • Complaining. Let’s face it; complaining will not help you to succeed.
  • Multitasking is the result of bad time management. If you have to multitask, you are doing things just to stay busy.
  • Allowing negative people to get your attention. There will always be negative people. If you want to succeed, you must avoid them.
  • Saying “yes” when you should say “no.” Keep your calendar free of unimportant meetings, events, or phone calls.
  • Regretting your past mistakes won’t help you succeed. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Don’t dwell on your mistakes.
  • Don’t get too emotional about the ups or downs of your life.

#36 – They don’t quit for the wrong reasons.

It is difficult to succeed. Quitting is always the easier option. If you want to learn a new skill, you might be tempted to quit. Before you quit, evaluate your reasons for quitting. If you set realistic expectations, quitting becomes less obvious.

For example, if you want to find a better-paying job, make a list of what you need to do to get there. Research what other people had to do to find such a job. Ask questions like “What skills do I need to get such a job? or How long does it normally take to find such a job?”

When you have realistic goals and expectations, you are more likely to succeed before you would have the desire to quit.

#37 – They don’t dwell on the past.

To succeed, you must focus on the now. What do I need to get done today to move closer to success? Successful people don’t worry about past mistakes. They don’t waste their time on what might have been. They focus on taking the steps they outlined to succeed.

Forget the past. Learn from it. Focus on today to reach your goals tomorrow.

#38 – They are not afraid to go to the unknown.

In order to succeed, you have to learn new skills, meet new people, try things you haven’t done before. You have to grow. That is the only way to succeed.

#39 – They don’t forget the people who helped them succeed.

Successful people know that they can’t succeed alone. They practice gratitude.

Successful people show gratitude in several ways:

  • They tell people how they helped them.
  • They give gifts.
  • They invite people to spend time together.
  • They think of ways to return the favor.

#40 – They don’t care what you think.

“Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner.”

Lao Tzu

Successful people don’t care about what other people think for several reasons:

  • It is very simple. What other people think doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. This is your life, not theirs.
  • Other people don’t know what you want or what you think.
  • What is right for them isn’t necessarily right for you.
  • If you focus on what other people think you can’t focus on what you need to do to succeed.
  • You only live once. There is no time to worry about what other people think.
  • Other people think a lot less about you than you think. Most people tend to spend time thinking about themselves.
  • Even if you try, you won’t be able to please everyone.


#41 – They don’t focus on too many things.

Success equals focus. I am sure you have heard about the 10,000-hour rule of success. It takes about 10,000 hours to master a skill. So if you want to learn the piano, you will have to invest about 10,000 hours. The more focus you have, the sooner will you spend the number of hours required to reach your goal.

If you try to do too many things, you will never reach your goals. Stick to the few activities necessary to reach your goal. Stay focused.

#42 – They don’t underestimate the time it takes to succeed.

Before you commit to a goal, you have to understand how long it should take to achieve.

You will never underestimate how long it should take you to succeed if you:

  • Study how long it took other people to reach the same goal you are trying to reach.
  • Have an understanding of how long it should take to succeed. For example, if it takes the average person 12-24 months to learn a new programming skill, you shouldn’t expect to become an expert coder in two weeks.
  • Should know how much time you can commit to succeed. If you only have only one hour a day to write a novel, it will take you a lot longer to write a book than a full-time writer.

#43 – They don’t allow other people to set goals for them.

Just because you want people to like you, it doesn’t mean you should do what they want you to do. Successful people do what they need to do to succeed. They don’t allow other people to set goals for them. Other people don’t know what is best for you. What they want is not important for you. Focus on your goals.

#44 – They don’t have the urge to make quick decisions.

Successful people understand the importance of their decisions. They don’t rush to decide on what to do next. Some decisions have to made quickly. Other decisions require more time. Successful people don’t have to urge to make quick decisions.

#45 – They are not afraid to change.

To succeed is to change. If you want to succeed, you have to evolve, learn, and change. In order to succeed, you have to seek out new opportunities. Go to places you haven’t seen before. Try things you haven’t done before. Meet people you haven’t met before.

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Last modified on Sunday, 25 October 2020 16:37

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