The 5 Toxic Habits That Are Hampering Your Career Success

Regardless of what you do for a living, or how far along you are in your career, most people are striving for a greater level of success. The term “success” can be defined in very different terms, depending on whom you talk to. It may be more money, a bigger title, more responsibility, or simply more flexibility to spend time with family and friends. We all want a little more than we have, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

This is one of the driving factors that often make our lives so busy.

Many people describe their lives as a constant struggle, the feeling of swimming upstream. They feel they are putting in the effort, but not achieving the desired results. According to renowned author Harvey Mackay, “the bridge between wishing and accomplishing is discipline”. The art of improvement comes from creating that discipline and ridding yourself of bad habits.

What bad habits do you have that are interfering with your individual success?

Let’s explore some habits that hamper career success:

1. Watching Television Rather Than Reading

I like a good television show — don’t get me wrong. We have all had that series that we DVR so that we don’t miss an episode. Taking it to extremes, however, wastes valuable time that could be spent on gaining knowledge to better ourselves. Want to be motivated? Read a great success book that teaches you a new approach to overcoming your weaknesses. I will never forget a phone interview I had when I was 22 years old. I was lucky enough to get a phone call from an executive at a company I was dying to work for. We chatted for several minutes, and I felt I answered the questions well. He then asked me what book I was reading. “Um, well…. I’m not a big reader.” He then asked “what do you do to improve yourself?” I again stumbled over my words and came up with a flimsy answer. He was not impressed. I could tell I had blown the interview. At the end, I asked if there were any authors he suggested, in terms of business books. He provided several well-known authors such as Zig Ziglar — all of which I am very familiar with today! From that moment on, I knew I had a long way to go if I wanted to be successful in life.

2. Not Getting Proper Rest

Think about the most successful people you know: do they look tired, worn out, and overworked (even though they might be)? Not at all! These individuals have discovered the magic trick that gives them better brain power: sleep! Many of us spend long hours working, then come home and fire up our computers yet again, working late into the night. Morning rolls around, and you are still exhausted, but have to put on your game face for another day at the office. You might get away with it once in a while, but over time, it wears on you. Lack of proper rest will make you tired, sick, and overweight. You have plenty of other personal and professional issues. Approach them with a rested mind.

3. Not Exercising or Eating Right

We are all strapped for time — I get it. I even wrote an article on how busy we are in this day and age. Exercise is critically important — for your body and your mind. When you start getting proper rest, the energy to exercise will come. Exercise doesn’t have to be a regimented 60-minute session, five days a week. Start small. Get up from your desk every hour and spend a few minutes walking the halls. Walk outside if you are able. Your employer may even support a standing desk or a treadmill desk. If you can work exercise into your work day, even better, right? Now let’s get to the eating part. You don’t have to go cold turkey and eliminate all sugars from your diet, but be conscious of what you put into your body. Start with trying to eat vegetables every day. Choose a salad for lunch. Planning your meals in advance makes this easier, but baby steps. Being aware of what you are eating is the first step.

4. Letting Toxic People into Your Life (or Keeping Them There)

In order to be successful, you need to surround yourself with those of similar mindsets. Positive, forward-thinking individuals. People that are looking for the same level of satisfaction that you are. There are some toxic people you can’t avoid: the co-worker that is constantly complaining, perhaps even a loved one. You can, however, limit the types of interactions you have with those individuals. If you feel the conversation or environment is becoming increasingly negative, remove yourself from the situation, or tell them you are not going to take part in the negativity. This will NOT go over well at first, but it is for the best, and eventually they will understand. As for your friends, if you have a toxic friendship, it might be time for the proverbial “house cleaning”. You can’t achieve your goals when someone is bringing you down instead of building you up!

5. Not Organizing Your Life

Organizing your life starts at the very basic level, and spans from there. Do you keep a strict calendar, or are you constantly overbooking yourself? If you don’t use a calendar, get one. Prioritize and schedule tasks — everything from work, to exercise, to leisure time for yourself — and prioritize it. If you have two events scheduled, don’t stress yourself out! Go to one of them. If an event conflicts with time you have set aside for yourself, prioritize yourself. This will be incredibly difficult at first: the hardest thing is saying “no” to those in your life. Eventually, you will develop an understanding of the things that rank in importance to you. Once you do, your satisfaction level will skyrocket. Once that happens, success (both personal and professional) flows easily.


If you read closely, you will notice that none of the habits hampering your career are directly related to your day-to-day job. The toxic habits don’t have to do with your effort on the last project, or if you bought your manager a gift for Boss’s Day. Success must come from within, and your daily habits have everything to do with your success!

Take some time to work on yourself, and the rest will come without you realizing it.

by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, The Resilient Recruiter, and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.

Originally published at on October 16, 2017.