A Dozen Habits of People Going Nowhere

Matt Rouse
Oct 30 · 7 min read

There are more than enough articles about what successful entrepreneurs and business leaders do. But what about the habits of the people who are stuck and never seem to be able to get out of the rut they’re in?

I’m not discounting things like status or privilege. I want to give you an idea of things that, from my decades of personal and professional experience, keep people from attaining even the smallest of goals.

These are regardless of other factors.

If you have any of these habits, you may want to consider trying to make a more productive habit to replace the bad one you have now. They are just that, habits. And habits are something you can change.

A Dozen Habits of People Going Nowhere
A Dozen Habits of People Going Nowhere

I’ve seen a couple of people do really well for themselves over the years, and I’ve seen many more people who aren’t doing shit.

1. Laziness — I heard Jesse Itzler speak at Content and Commerce Summit a couple of years ago.

He told a story about doing something as simple as wrapping up the garden hose his kids had been playing with before he went back into the house. He said, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s true. If you drop something on the floor and you’re too lazy to pick it up, you better re-think your life. Simple everyday tasks add up to long-term life satisfaction. Do things that are hard, because easy things don’t get you where you want to be.

2. Another sign of laziness is procrastination — Procrastination is a problem with “opportunity cost.”

If you are doing less valuable work or just sitting on your ass instead of the tasks that need to be done to get you where you want to be, you’re slowly going to miss more and more opportunities. Crushing every task into the last minute means you don’t have time to handle unforeseen difficulties or life events that come up at the same time. Just do it now. There’s no reason to wait.

3. Attaching to more capable people — leeching of their energy and their passion and their stubbornness to get things done.

Look at any school or college group project. Someone always ends up doing all the work while everyone else just makes excuses and doesn’t help.

The one doing all the work should be you. If it’s not and you’re not pulling your weight, you’re just a leach. Don’t be a leach.

4. Binge-watching binges —People who spend literal days watching TV shows and then move on to binge-watch the next show, over and over.

These folks ask themselves, “What’s on TV next,” instead of, “Now that my show is over, what should I do instead?” Turn it off and go get shit done.

5. They can’t focus — they are serial multitaskers and have notifications beeping constantly from their devices, which they can’t ignore.

They can’t get 10 minutes of uninterrupted time and then “task switching” kills their productivity. These are the people who go to work all day and are on their phones and tablets and laptops all night and go to bed tired, saying to themselves, “I’m just do busy.” Busy accomplishing nothing is what they’re doing.

Turn off the notification, start time-block, prioritize what you need to get done.

Be busy doing important work, not answering text messages from other people who aren’t going anywhere with their lives either.

6. Minor happenings in their personal lives are more important than their work — this kind of follows along the lines of number 5 above.

What Sally said about Karen is more important than getting that proposal done that could land you the contract that gets the referral that blows up your career. Who won on Dancing with the Karaoke Talk Show Starts isn’t important to your business. It isn’t important at all.

Delete those conversations from your life or strictly allow them outside of your designated work hours.

If you like to gossip or watch “reality” TV or the latest sportsball match, go ahead. Just don’t do it when you’re supposed to be concentrating on your goals.

7. Hanging around with the wrong people — everyone at this point knows you are the sum of the people you spend the most time around.

A little known fact is that “spending time” with people on video or podcasts counts too, especially if you don’t have anyone around you who is successful or driving themselves to get ahead in life. Listen to my podcast Digital Marketing Masters and you can hear who we hang out with.

8. Constantly making excuses — you know what would be easier than just making up excuses constantly?

Doing the work. Excuses are just your brain trying to come up with a way for you to avoid the embarrassment of other people knowing you didn’t do what you know you should have done.

Stop the excuses, and just get down to business. It’s no one else’s fault you aren’t getting ahead, it’s yours. The sooner you realize that the easier it’s going to become to stop making excuses.

9. Nothing is ever their fault — and it’s always because of some external force that things aren’t getting done or going their way.

It’s never because they are lazy, unfocussed, procrastinators who make excuses all the time. It was their upbringing, or their station in life, or the weather, or the teacher, or their spouse or their kids or their sore arse.

I understand that it’s not an even playing field, but let me tell you, as a bullied nerdy-kid who grew up in a tiny mining town in south-eastern British Columbia, you can still do what you want to do and you can still accomplish your goals.

Play a game called, “The only person who’s responsible for my actions, attitude, and success is myself.” Win at that game.

10. They are often “sick” but not really sick — and this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I don’t want to tread too lightly because sometimes people just need some tough love.

If you read this far, I feel like you are someone who wants me to tell it like it is.

There are literally millions of people who aren’t sick but claim they are sick. They are drinking or smoking too much and then complaining they don’t feel good the next day. Some of them report a migraine or gut issues or back problems that coincidentally, only show up when there is a scray or tough task that needs to be completed. They need mental health days every time the going gets even slightly tough.

Think about your favorite movie, book, or show. If the main character ran into obstacles in overcoming a problem and called in sick, how would the movie turn out? Toughen up but do take care of yourself if you have a real illness, get sleep, eat well, try not to overdo things you shouldn’t overdo. We both know what I mean and what that means for you.

11. Do not have an abundance or prosperity mindset — and mindset is the biggest hurdle.

I was driving a vehicle in a local parade and there was about 80,000 people in attendance. It was block after block packed with people, each holding a $200-$1200 smartphone in their hand. That’s roughly $40 Million in just phones at one tiny 4th of July Parade in one small town in America.

The scale of the world is hard to fathom.

Imagine a football stadium with more than 50,000 attendees except that every single one of them is a millionaire. That’s how much money just Elon Musk is worth. There is so much money, resources, health, happiness, and everything else in the world that you don’t have to compete with others to get yours. No one ever went broke trying to help others achieve their dreams. It takes exceptional work and focus to build the life you want, but it’s not impossible.

It’s all just waiting there for you to grab it.

Want my advice on how to make more money? Find a way to help other people make more money.

12. Being afraid of failure makes them a non-starter — no one wins a race they never start running.

Let me make this as clear as I can.

You will fail at some of the things you try to do. Again for the people in the back, you will fail sometimes. And that’s okay. It’s not just okay, it’s the path forward. Everyone successful looks back at their original work when they first started and shudders at how amateur it was. You get better by doing. Practice. Prepare. Study. Iterate. Be patient. Every overnight success was built on a decade of hard work.

Change your mindset, change your life.

Now go forth and be profitable!

  1. Get more tips just like this with amusing stories and research that you can read in minutes. Deliver My Marketing Tips!

2. Subscribe to the Digital Marketing Masters Podcast on your favorite podcast app or player. You can also listen to this business marketing podcast here.

About the Author

Matt Rouse is one of the hosts of the Digital Marketing Masters Podcast and is a managing partner of Hook SEO Digital Marketing. He is the author of Start Saying Yes: Improving Customer Experience and Sales Through Positive Messaging and Flattening the Hamster Wheel: Stop Grinding and Start Making an Impact.

Digital Marketing Masters

Do you want to do better marketing online that is more effective and take less time? This is where you learn those skills.

Matt Rouse

Written by

Host of the Digital Marketing Masters Podcast. Author of Start Saying Yes. Marketing strategy nerd. I write a lot and sometimes I help run my Marketing Agency.

Digital Marketing Masters

Do you want to do better marketing online that is more effective and take less time? This is where you learn those skills.

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