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Stop it! 17 bad habits to ditch in 2017

Thursday, January 05, 2017

While we are resolutely not fans of New Year's resolutions (see what I've done there 😉) we have to concede that January is the month of reflection and reset for a greater future.  So what better time to take inventory of all the bad habits that have been holding you back from success?  Make a commitment to yourself to eliminate one bad habit at a time, and I guarantee you will come out of 2017 a more productive and happy you!

Being busy doesn't make you productive.  Would it surprise you to know that on average, 41% of to-do list items never get completed?  We trick ourselves into thinking that the longer we work and the more we give ourselves to do, the more productive we are.  That is not the case at all.  By jam packing your to-do list, you are only setting yourself up to fail.  

Want to learn to be more productive?  Have a listen to this Freakonomics podcast on How to be more productive: 

Nobody likes a party-pooper.  Healthy skepticism is one thing but pessimism never lead to a greater future.  Understand and be faithful to your risk profile, make sensible decisions, look at the now, and focus on improving your future.  Besides, if Armageddon is always around the corner, you won't be able to stop it anyway. 

You know that lowest price guarantee that is so popular with hardware stores?  That if you find something cheaper they would beat it by 15%?  Are you guaranteed a saving?  Say you are in Store A and see a hammer for $20, dissatisfied, you get back into your car and drive to Store B to find the same hammer being on the shelf for $17.50.  Elated that you now qualify for the lowest price guarantee, you drive back to Store A to claim the discount paying only $14.88 for the hammer.  You have saved a total of $5.12.  And though a 26% saving is not always to be scoffed at, you probably spent a whole hour of your day just to secure that $5.12 discount (which by the way, only buys you a so-so pie from the petrol station if that).  How much is that hour worth to you?  Could you have spent that hour reading a book or listening to a podcast to improve your knowledge?  Frugality is a virtue when you are an investor, but penny-pinching is nothing but self-sabotage.  

Related article: How to value your time?

Think of it this way, less meeting means more doing.  Know that the more time you spend in meetings, the less productive you become.  Streamline your meetings by sticking to an agenda, drawing up action points for future followups, and leave the social chit-chats to actual social events.  Utilise technology to run your meetings more efficiently.  If everyone is scattered around the city then surely a Google Hangout session would save everyone the traveling time and the aggro of finding car parks.  Remember that it is action, not meetings, that gets you results.  

Read also: Forbes - How to have fewer, better meetings

Ever heard of the perfection paralysis?  Seeking to be perfect can ultimately be paralysing because we are overwhelmed by the fear of failure, that we rather not do than fail.    Perfectionism in itself is not the problem, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a better you (more on that later).  It is the attitude of inflexibility (seeking only the perfect outcome) that sabotages our growth.  If everything you do has to be perfect then you will end up doing very little.  Utopia is exactly so because it doesn't exist.  Life is not perfect.  You are not perfect.  But you could be better and you have to keep trying.  


Your tenant isn't waking up every morning thinking about how to smash holes into your walls.  Your bank manager isn't conspiring to hike up your rates and squeezing every ounce of profit out of you.  They are thinking about themselves and their problems.  Not you.  Renting is a human business and you will never be any good at it if you take an egocentric approach.  Embrace the team concept and stop thinking of everyone else as an adversary.  Negotiation will become a much easier process if you reach across the table and look for common values and mutually beneficial solutions.  

A healthy body leads to a healthy and active mind which, in turn, lead to better quality decisions.  But this is not a fitness blog and the idea of stop sitting start moving most certainly goes beyond the physical.  Stagnation is unacceptable to any success-minded person. If you find yourself stuck in a rut and going nowhere then you must find a way to get out of it before the sense of defeatism takes over.  Want some tips?  Take a look at this Inside Quest video on how to become unstuck:


It is good to be ambitious and competitive, those are the qualities that give us the energy and drive to become successful.  But when you set your success barometer based on someone else's standards you will never become successful.  Not truly anyway.  Competing with others is a guaranteed no-win situation.  There is always someone who is going to be richer, smarter, more charming and capable around the corner waiting to take your self-confidence down a notch.  Rather than banking on others "relatively poor performance" to validate yourself, take all of that energy and focus on you - your health, your wealth, and your relationships.  Aim to become the best you you can ever be and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. 

January is as good a time as any to look at the cost-reward ratio of everything you spend your hours on.  Does your email client always have to stay on?  Is your boss going to be more impressed by instantaneous email replies or positive work outputs that you had clearly spent your time focusing on?  While you may feel super productive replying to emails, liking social media mentions, and attending loads of meetings, these shallow tasks rarely grow your business or your self.  Pay attention to what you are spending your time on, focus on the outcome, and prioritise productivity over time.  

We live in a very connected world that is constantly bombarding us with distractions and excuses to procrastinate.  The problem is distractions is that they are, just about always, more fun than the things on our to-do list.  But have you ever wonder why is it that you never itemise surfing on Youtube or enjoying daily Trump tweets on your to-do list?  Because they are distractions that serve no purpose.  If these social media connections are not good enough to make it onto your daily task list then should you really be spending time on them?  Learn to take control of your time, turn off notifications, give yourself set social media time blocks or even delete those apps from your phone altogether.  


This short but incredibly powerful message by real estate entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran says it all really.  When you say yes, you are saying yes to someone else's agenda.  There is nothing wrong to help someone else but the next time you commit yourself to someone else's cause, ask yourself why you are saying yes.  By helping someone else out are you also serving your goals and growth?  Or are you looking to be flattered?  

You will never become successful if you try to lone-wolf your way through life.  Surround yourself with positive and like-minded people to help you get to where you want to be faster.  The rationale behind this is the understanding that you will never become an expert in everything you need to know and do to reach your goals.  Having a team around you, however, improves your chances of success because you get to leverage off the collective skill-set.  If you find yourself being a lone investor, make sure you come along to networking session, get an accountability partner or even hire a business mentor.  Look after the positive relationships and people in your life and they will, in turn, look after you.  

Related article: How to prosper in 2017: 17 tips to become a better property investor

Do you know that 98% of us are monotaskers i.e. we can't do more than one thing at a time well?  While you may be able to juggle more than one thing at a time, chances are you perform your best when you tune out the distractions and focus on one task at a time.  So turn off the email clients and LinkedIn notifications and focus on what you set out to do.  Stop being a slave to your phone and start using the Do Not Disturb function to manage your call volume.  Whatever is worth doing or whoever is worth speaking to will always be there once you are ready to give them the attention they deserve. 

Many of us assume to multitask is to be efficient.  Not so, says designer Paolo Cardini: 

The math is simple: junk goes in and junk comes out.  You are the sum total of the environment you are in, the people you are with, and the idea you are exposed to.  Want to make 2017 a prosperous year with property?  Then stop reading negative comments by naysayers and stop questioning the ethics behind being an investor.  Since when is it not virtuous to plan for the future and become accountable to your own success?  Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful tool that not only validates your own choices but also challenges you to dream bigger and achieve more.  A good start to fuelling your inner positivity is to get rid of negatively motivated habits such as reality TV, tabloid journalism, and idle gossips.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."  Elevate yourself to becoming a great mind.  Some negatively fuelled hobbies like idle gossips, tabloid journalism, and reality TVs could appear innocently enough on the surface.  But in reality, these habits are training your mind to think narrowly and suppressing your personal growth.  Get rid of these habits today. 


Since the GFC, the western world has been shunning excessiveness and embracing minimalism. We are seeing this everywhere, from the popular rise of the Scandinavian aesthetics to having our lives magically transformed by the KonMari method.  Everywhere you look, people are starting to value quality over quantity, having less, and being more.  What about relationships, knowledge, and every intangible thing that can clog up your life?  It is not enough to declutter your wardrobe and kitchen pantry, you should also take some time to declutter the negative people and information that serve no constructive purpose.  Make it a personal mission to hold on to positive relationships that will support you through life and good quality knowledge/information that guide your decisions.

When you start making excuses you stop being accountable to yourself.  You are the author of your own success so stop sabotaging your future by blaming everyone but yourself for every set back you suffer.  Sure, sometimes you could just be a victim of some seriously rotten luck.  But if you are always feeling like a victim then you train your brain into relinquishing control over your own fate.  So the next time, before you blame the Auckland housing market for pricing you out, ask yourself why is it that other investors are still out there buying in the same market.  What can you do to improve your own performance so that you can get to your goals?


Aspiring to what you could be rather than what you are is all well and good but fixating on your potential rather than your reality can be incredibly counter-productive.  How many times have you caught up with old school friends and find yourself talking about the grand future that is yet to come?  At the end of the day, talk is cheap and actions take guts.  When you verbalise your goals and someone acknowledges it, the validating feeling you get in return tricks your mind into thinking that you have already achieved what you've set out to do.  


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