5 Things You Don’t Do That Kill Your Success

Would you prefer to be alone with your thoughts for say 6-15 minutes, or receive self-imposed electrical shocks throughout the same period of time? Seems like a silly question until you learn that some people actually prefer the electrical shocks.

Of the participants studied one third of the women and two thirds of the men absolutely could not just be alone with their own thoughts. One outlier actually gave himself an electrical shock 190 times in 15 minutes.

If we can’t be alone with our own thoughts, we can’t engage in the deep thinking from which our most creative ideas and best work is sourced. We cannot ever enter into the zone or a mental state of flow, being completely immersed in a feeling of energized focus.

Who or what is to blame? The who rests solely on the person staring back at you from the mirror.

The what is two fold. It’s a lack of self-discipline to first, train ourselves to think deeply and second, to eliminate all that would distract us from the task.

The results are missed opportunities and unrealized potential that kills the success that was meant to be yours.

The bottom line is that you’re leaving a lot on the table and it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’re not doing these 5 things, chances are you’re killing your full success potential.

5 Things You Don’t Do That Kill Your Success

1. Designate non-phone times.

The iphone has been with us for 10 years now. Prior to that we had no data or any best practices for managing a constant companion nor could we have imagined the effect it would have on us, our relationships, our ability to think deeply or the self-discipline it would require to remain addiction-free. But now we do and if we’re savvy, disciplined and smart enough, we will be in control of our devices versus allowing our devices to control us.

Designate non-phone times.

When you’re with others.  Studies show that when your phone is just visible in a room, your mental capacities for work, conversation, relationships and just thinking is compromised. You may not be looking at your phone, but it does require mental energy to resist picking it up. So hide it when you’re with others so you can be fully present to build relationships.

When you’re by yourself. Designate times when you will fully concentrate on a task, or think deeply to generate creative solutions for a current situation. It takes anywhere from 7-20 minutes for full mental engagement in an activity. Studies have shown that the average person can lose up to 6 hours A DAY through interruptions. You can’t control all interruptions when you work in an office, or live with others, but you can control the interruptions you create yourself by having your phone constantly available.

An hour before you go to sleep. Back in the olden days our wake/sleep time was determined by our body’s biological circadiam rhythms. Our bodies respond to light to cue it when it’s time to wake up and time to sleep. The blue light of the early dawn or our phones, tells us to wake up. Whereas the yellow/red hues of the evening tell us to prepare for sleep. So if you’re nestled snug in your bed with the blue glow of a screen, chances are, your sleep will suffer as a results. Allow yourself enough time to relax without the screen so that your sleep will be restorative and restful.

TIP: – How much time are you really on your phone? Find out with this free app which also includes tips for taking back your life.

2. Think the opposite.

When we were little kids we would play a game called, Opposite Day. Everything we said meant the opposite. I don’t remember if I thought that was fun or not and now it sounds like a veiled attempt to be mean, but I do remember playing it frequently.

When you’ve made up your mind about something, how do you know you’re right? Have you really considered all of your options? Are you positive you’ve landed on the BEST option?

In their insightful book Decisive, authors Chip and Dan Heath suggest widening decision options by considering the opposite. Look for disagreement from people you work with. Ask disconfirming questions to ensure that you’re not simply gathering more data to support a decision you’ve already made.

One way to force yourself to consider the opposite is to consider this: If we were to implement this plan as it stands today and in one year it fails, take 5-10 minutes to write out what went wrong. This will force you and your team to consider the opposite and everything that you’re not thinking about when you’re simply looking for confirming information.

3. Read non-fiction.

This doesn’t mean you can’t read fiction as well, but make sure you’ve got a good list of non-fiction books to work through. I’ve always been an advocate of reading good books. Good books are the source of great education at any age. It’s the best way to know the thoughts of some of the greatest minds in history.

Daily snippets gathered through tailored news feeds gives us only part of the pictures of a much larger story. When you read good books, your mind expands beyond it’s current limits and you will never think the same again.

4. Think Deeply through artistic aids.

Coloring books were all the rage recently. We have a short stack of them. They were promoted as stress relieving. But I think there’s more to artist forms of expression than simply relieving stress.

To use your brain to it’s capacity, you must engage both hemispheres, the logical side and the creative side. You will find that thinking differently will produce creative and unique ideas that you haven’t tapped into before.

Try this:

The next time you’re outside for some exercise or just a regular day making your normal rounds, take note of the sights and sounds around you. Then when you get home use one of these artistic forms of expression to document your experience.

Drawing – what did you see or hear? Grab some paper or a blank journal when you get home and quickly sketch everything you heard or saw.

Music – Choose a song that best described your experience. This one can be used for documenting your days as well. Some days are Walking on Sunshine, while others may be the Highway to Hell.

Photography – Take several pictures of the same object from different angles. When you look at the pictures, what do you notice from each angle that’s new or different?

WritingTry you hand at some prose or poetry or even humor. Jot down words as they come to mind forgetting about trying to make it a finished product.

Any of these mediums will give way to new thinking that will open your mind to new options and possibilities not thought of before. And it will be a fun thing to look back on after a period of time as a creative journal of your days.

5. Lose track of  time in nature.

We are so tied to our clocks and schedules that we rarely give our brains, emotions and bodies a chance to really disconnect and recharge. The benefits of being in nature are plentiful including but not limited to:

  • Improved short term memory.
  • Restored mental energy.
  • Stress relief.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Immune system boost.

Everyone could use every one of these benefits and it’s so easy. Schedule time when you will go outside and get lost in the wonder of creation. You may not think you have the time, but in reality, you don’t have the time not to. It’s that important.

For more benefits check out this article: 11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside

If you’re not doing these 5 things, you’re leaving potential on the table; potential deep relationships, a potential million dollar idea, potential happiness, potential health, potential income… the list is long.

Take the 30 day challenge and implement at least one of these ideas every day for 30 days and see what how your life changes.

What tips would you add to this list that you’ve found have helped you to be more successful? Leave a comment and get the conversation started!

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Copyright © 2017 Kaylene Mathews. All rights reserved.



About Kaylene

Kaylene Mathews, MBA, equips and empowers individuals and groups to gain the clarity they need to achieve their personal and professional best through keynotes, coaching and training services. She authors a weekly blog, and a monthly newsletter. She is currently working on her second book. Her first book is available on Amazon.


  • Terri Klass says:

    Fantastic post, Kaylene! I love all of your strategies on ways to think deeply. I find that not responding to email or social media alerts can help me tons to stay with the project I am working on. There are so many distractions but we all do have it within ourselves to commit to learn ways to stay deeply focused.

    Thanks Kaylene!

    • Kaylene Kaylene says:

      Thanks for your comment Terri! Agree, we have it within ourselves to choose a different strategy to stay focused and not give into distractions! Thanks Terri!

  • Chantaul says:

    Great article, worthy of sharing. Thanks Kaylene.

    • Kaylene Kaylene says:

      Thanks so much Chantaul – honored by your kind words and for sharing my work. ~ Kaylene