Habits And Hurdles: Why Do Some Succeed and Some Fail?

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Habits And Hurdles
FutureLearn Limited

Every one of us has huge potentials but we only use a limited form or even none at all of those potentials. The question then is, why don’t many of us live up to our full potential?

In this article, we will be looking at habits as the major factor which holds us back from becoming fully who and what we are created to be. 

Humans are creatures of habits. We grow up to form habits, good or bad which will eventually make or break us. The bad habits are those that hold us back and unfortunately are the strongest of habits we hold on to. And to make any progress in life, you must identify and break such habits. 

In a normal situation, it’s not easy to identify habits that could hold you back. However, they become obvious when you set and commit yourself to a significant goal. That is when you begin to experience the force of your habit holding you down, totally tying you in like the roots of the tree clutching the ground. 

Have you ever found yourself in a circle of undesirable events happening and repeating themselves in your life? Do you find that you never finish any projects? Do you find you never succeed in anything you put your hands to? Are you always getting into trouble with people; in business, your workplace or school? Do you find yourself always indebts, overwhelmed with a lot to do and never knowing where to start from? Do you find that your life always seems to be in constant chaos, as if you always have to start over again? If any of these describes you, then it’s time to look at your habits to find which of the things you do is continuing to sabotage your desire for success. 

This is the point where religious people accuse the devil and bad spirits, and often many will continue to pray, moving from one prayer house to another, looking for one miracle or another to deliver them from the hands of the devil holding them from succeeding. The good news today is, you will learn that the devil holding you is yourself and your habits and it is only you who will decide to break away from such habits to free yourself. Not your pastor or prayer, rather a proactive decision to take responsibility to tackle your habits head-on. 

What are habits?

Habits are learned behaviours and actions that have been repeated so many times that they become automatic and feel effortless. They are stored in the subconscious part of the mind, so you don’t consciously think about them, you just do them because you are so used to them. This is clearly where the challenge lies. You are so attached to this habit that you cannot become who you want to be. You are so emotionally attached to them that they are difficult to challenge and change. Habits are to an individual what culture and tradition are to a people.

This habit is who you have become.  The habits have created you and this, ‘YOU’ must be detached from you for you to have growth.

These habits get triggered because plans involving your goal may require that you detach from them. They rear their heads in instances such as: when you put yourself forward as a speaker in an event, your habits will make you sick, tell you you can’t do it, people will laugh at you, you don’t look good, you don’t speak well, you know, the voice will be so loud until you’re pushed back to your default place of never dreaming anything great for yourself. As an entrepreneur, you also find that when you want to make telephone calls to clients, send emails, make contacts, attend workshops, or any helpful activity to grow your business,  these unhelpful attitudes, habits and thoughts come in between to weasel you out of doing these important actions necessary for your growth.

The habit you formed can either help or hinder you when you set a goal to achieve. The habit comes from attitude. A negative, judgemental or prejudiced attitude can build up to form a habit that will sabotage your pursuit. A negative attitude like, ‘nothing for me in this world,’ can make you reluctant to wake up early in the morning for work or jog to keep yourself fit.

An inspiring, healthy, optimistic attitude enables you to form the habit of waking up for work or jogging for fitness. A positive attitude fuels your passion to enable you to override the old habit that has been running your lives.


A habit is a matter of practice, it can be good or bad. When you are not achieving your goal you have to review your habits, from there to your attitude,  A change is essential.

Most bad habits come from attitude and attitude from thinking. After searching for facts and establishing the truth you must form a plan of action. The following will enable you to establish the truth necessary for a plan of action.

1.  Responsibility 

The first step in tackling unhelpful habits is taking responsibility for the results you’re getting in life. You must first recognise that your life is not going as you would want it to be, then identify the habits stopping you from actualising your dream self. Habits such as procrastination, negative thinking, self-criticism, perfectionism, laziness, lack of priorities, lack of budgeting, partying and too much fun, dirtiness, etc. You must first identify which of your habits is causing you stagnation to be able to deal with it.

2. Goal Setting

Once you’ve identified the areas of your life which are not measuring up to who you would like to be, the next step would be to begin to take proactive actions to change that by setting yourself goals and achieving them. This is where coaches and mentors come in. A coach or a mentor will help you set these goals and become your accountability partner. 

Starting with little daily achievable goals are usually helpful in building your confidence when you achieve them,  and helping you become consistent in performing the actions needed in achieving them, which in turn works towards creating a new habit. 

Habits are essentially built from consistent actions over a period. Setting these important goals will force you to change the things you do and ultimately change your habits. 

3. Focus

Focusing on the discomfort that changes bring instead of your goal, you will take your attention off the result. To achieve the desired result, it’s important to keep in mind the reward and focus solely on that as you take each step towards reclaiming your life from your old habit.

The reward should be your motivation. Think of sprinters, they focus on the finish line, once they take their eyes off the finish line they slack and ultimately fail. You must make your goal the focus of your healthy thoughts daily. When you take your eyes off the ball the dysfunctional habit will creep in and sabotage the set objective.

Again, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will help you stay focused. For those finding it hard to stay focus,


The environment is a powerful factor. In this case, your environment includes home or office or people around you. If your environment is not conducive it affects the result. 

If you live with a partner who sees your goal as worthless then it becomes an uphill task. He might be a wet blanket to scuttle the set goal. This is the time-sharing similar values becomes paramount.  If you can influence your environment to work for you in terms of your goal, great, but if you can’t, you have to find a way to cut off or change your environment. 

When it comes to vision, personal interest becomes secondary. If your environmental changes are outside your control you will need to strengthen your tolerance and keep your eyes on the set objective.

If your goal is weight loss, having a cupboard full of cookies, cakes, and drinks add an unnecessary challenge that increases your chances of giving in to temptation. These cookies, cakes and drinks are like having the wrong friends, team members and the wrong board of directors, they will kill off the vision. Having established the truth then you can form a plan of action. With this enhanced clarity, then, you can stick to the new habit, powered by an action plan.