3 Things Successful People Don't Do

Megan Holstein

#1: Engage in purposeless activity

You know the kind I’m talking about. Collapsing in front of the television when you get home from work, regardless of whatever’s on. Watching YouTube video after YouTube video without any real purpose in mind. Driving to Wendys and getting some food because you just don’t really have anything better to do. Procrastinating on doing important work by “cleaning up” or “straightening up the house.”

What successful people do instead:

There are two purposes to any activity you can do. There is…

  1. The thing you are trying to get out of that activity in that moment.
  2. The long-term effects of that activity.

Whenever a successful person does anything, they know both how what they’re doing helps them in that moment and over the long term.

  • Unsubscribing from newsletters both empties your email inbox now and makes it so you have fewer emails to answer in the future
  • Exercise puts you in a better mood now and helps you have a healthier, higher-performing body over the long term
  • Watching your favorite TV show helps you relax now, and feeds the creative soil of your mind over the long term.

As you can see, it’s not about “always being productive.” It’s about knowing at any given moment what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, instead of just allowing life to pass you by.

#2: Get wasted

Have you ever seen Elon Musk wasted? Or Bill Gates? Or Warren Buffet? No, you have not. In fact, the only time any of these people has ever publicly done anything close was that one time Musk tried some cannabis on the Joe Rogan show. It was an occasion so rare, and so memorable, it became a meme.

That’s not to say these people never relax in their private lives. But relaxing, even with the aid of drugs, is different than getting wasted.

Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.
— Elon Musk (Quote Source)

Getting wasted, on any drug, harms you over both the short and the long term. Over the short-term, you usually suffer effects like next-morning hangovers, sleepless nights, and a nearly total lack of ability to function. Over the long-term, you suffer neural damage, decreased short-term


memory, muscle loss, and all kinds of other negative health consequences.

What successful people do instead:

It’s not that successful people don’t party or have a night out sometimes, or even that they don’t drink or do drugs. But they don’t get wasted, man. Successful people treat drugs the same way they treat anything else — as a particular kind of activity with a particular kind of purpose. If a successful person is doing drugs, they’re hoping to get more out of the experience than just ‘forgetting about stuff for a while.’

#3: Ruminate, worry, or catastrophize

Most people indulge in anxiety-inducing thoughts. They think about the what-if’s. “What if I fail the exam,” “What if my small business fails,” “What if the market fails,” so on and so forth. They get a tight feeling in their chest, and then they start pacing or playing on their phone or doing something else to make the tight feeling go away. This both impedes their ability to be successful and makes them profoundly unhappy.

What successful people do instead:

Successful people do think about what can go wrong in order to anticipate challenges. But there are two significant differences between anticipating challenges and ruminating:

  1. When you ruminate, there's emotional involvement. You feel stressed, tense, and upset. By contrast, there is no emotional involvement when you’re anticipating challenges. When you anticipate challenges, you’re like a general at war, trying to predict the enemy’s movements.
  2. When you ruminate, you aren’t making back up plans. You’re just thinking about how terrible it would be if your fears came to pass. By contrast, when you anticipate challenges, you make backup plans B, C, and D. That way, even if what you fear does come to pass, you still have a plan for success.

This list hardly encompasses every single thing successful people don’t do. But if you give up the behaviors of the unsuccessful and replace them with the behaviors of the successful, your chances of living a life like theirs goes way, way up.

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Self-help writer with 3M+ views on Medium and Quora. Covering personal growth, relationship skills, and career growth.

Columbus, OH

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