Professional Improvement Plan - Eliminate these Seven Deadly Habits

This may sound like a mix of the 7 deadly sins and Steven Covey’s 7 habits, and maybe it is.

People are beginning to realize that what happens in their lives comes from inside rather than outside ourselves. If we’re struggling, it’s because there’s at least one area of our lives in which we’re out of integrity.

blokes with good & bad habits

So here’s a list of 7 habits to eliminate if you want to move forward and achieve more success and happiness.


The Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll do it tomorrow syndrome.” Why do we put off doing what we believe we should do? Maybe the fact it’s a “should” could be one reason. Ask yourself why you should be doing this. Is it because someone else or society thinks you should? Not a good enough reason. If it’s something you feel you need and want to do, even if it’s a chore, then putting it off only causes stress. Do it, delegate it, or dump it. Lord Chesterfield said it before Nike condensed it, “No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Overcoming procrastination is tough, but not impossible. Do just one thing today you’ve been putting off and you’ll feel better.

Wasting time

This may be either a cause for procrastination or a result of it. It’s not always a bad thing. When we’ve worked hard, we deserve down time and if vegging out is what feels best, then do it. What I’m talking about is a habit of wasting time rather than living up to our responsibilities. Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember that time is money,” and aren’t we good at wasting both at times? The difference is if we waste money, we can earn more. Wasted time is gone for good.

Blaming others

Who’s standing in your way of getting what you want? Your parents, siblings, boss, co-worker, the government? If only he wouldn’t or she hadn’t or they didn’t is a game we can’t win. People treat us badly sometimes. They don’t do what we want them to do. And we do the same to them. Is it your fault someone else didn’t succeed? No, and it’s not their fault you didn’t. Jean Paul Sartre said, “…we are responsible for what we are.”

Judging others

I believe this is a root cause of most of our troubles in the world. It is an irrefutable law of nature that what we give out, we will get back. So the Golden Rule isn’t a demand of what we “should” do. It’s a beautiful way of expressing how to live if we want to reap rewards and justice for ourselves. “Judge not” may be the best advice we’ve ever been given.

Making excuses

Okay, I’ve got two puppies. Maybe the dog did eat your homework, but you can only get away with that one once. People see through excuses and don’t respect those who make this a habit. Remember, everything we do is a choice, so best to own up to our failings and then not repeat them. Shakespeare had a good take on it in King John, “And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.”

“Yeah, buts”

One time someone was coaching me and I was being stubborn in accepting her observations. She finally said to me, “Do you realize you’re saying ‘yeah, but’ a lot?” I hadn’t, but it helped me for her to point it out. A friend of mine once had this expression on his vanity license plate. It’s so annoying to try to communicate with someone who “yeah, buts” everything we say. It indicates a negative, pessimistic outlook and who wants to be around people like that?


Which brings us to the last and perhaps deadliest habit, the one that may be responsible for all the others. A habitual negative attitude is the sure way to fail. I’m talking of seeing the bad in people or situations rather than the good, expecting failure, fearing success. Negative self-talk is perhaps the worst thing we can do to ourselves. We do become what we tell ourselves we are. As Henry Ford advised, if you say you can’t or you can, you’ll be right. Work on managing and minimizing negativity if you want to be happy and successful.

Make it a habit to be kind to yourself. Work on self improvement and realize we’re all doing the best we can, even when we know we’re not.

If you have a professional development plan but you’re not as successful or happy as you’d like to be, perhaps you’re sabotaging your efforts by practicing one or more of these seven deadly habits of ineffective people.

Author Bio: Want tips on improving your relationships? Order the author’s ebook, Why Can’t You See it My Way? Resolving Values Conflicts at Work and Home at Annette Estes is a Certified Professional Behavioral and Values Analyst. Contact her at

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