post written by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things You Must Give Up to Be Successful

10 Things You Must Give Up to Be Successful

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”
-Coco Chanel

When we think about how to achieve success, we often focus on the skills and habits we should add to our lives.  But sometimes the key to success actually lies in our ability to give up certain habits and behaviors.  So starting today…

  1. Give up the habit of waiting. – The way you spend your time defines who you are.  You don’t get to choose how you are going to die, or when; you can only decide how you are going to live right now.  Trust me, a year from now you will wish you had started today.  Read The Now Habit.
  2. Give up the excuses. – Sooner or later you will come to realize that it’s not what you lose along the way that counts; it’s what you do with what you still have.  When you let go, forgive, and move on, you in no way change the past, you change the future.
  3. Give up trying to be perfect. – Sometimes we try to show the world that we are flawless in hopes that we will be liked and accepted by everyone.  But we can’t please everyone, and we shouldn’t try.  The beauty of us lies in our vulnerability, our love, our complex emotions – our authentic imperfections.  When we embrace who we are and decide to be authentic, instead of perfect, we open ourselves up to real relationships, real happiness, and real success.  There is no need to put on a mask.  There is no need to pretend to be someone you’re not.  You are perfectly imperfect just the way you are.
  4. Give up doing things you know are wrong. – Nothing is more damaging to you than doing something that you believe is wrong.  Your beliefs alone don’t help you grow and thrive, your behavior and actions do.  So always do what you know in your heart is right, for you.
  5. Give up feelings of entitlement. – Nobody owes you anything.  When you approach life with the false sense that you are owed things, you will naturally become less productive and constantly find yourself disappointed by reality.  When you are grateful for what you have, and see positive things as bonuses, versus owed entitlements, you will earn great successes gradually as you grow.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  6. Give up relationships that want you to be someone else. – The best kind of relationship is the one that makes you a better person without changing you into someone other than yourself.
  7. Give up letting others decide what you can and can’t do. – In order to live your own authentic life, you have to follow YOUR inner GPS, not someone else’s.  When others say, “You can’t do it!” or “That’s impossible,” don’t lose hope.  Just because they couldn’t doesn’t mean you can’t.
  8. Give up being a helpless victim. – Yes, it is unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people.  Life can be unfair, unkind and unjust.  However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move onward and upward.  You’ve got to stand back up and take positive steps to heal and grow.
  9. Give up worrying about past failures. – Accept your past without regret, handle your presence with confidence, and face your future without fear.  You are today where your thoughts and actions have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts and actions take you.  Read How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
  10. Give up blaming everyone else. – Either you own your situation or it will own you.  Either you take responsibility for your life, or someone else will.  Blame is a scapegoat – it’s an easy way out of taking accountability for your own outcome.  It’s a lot easier to point the finger at someone or something else instead of looking within.  Blame is not constructive; it does not help you or anyone else – nobody wins in the blame game.  The amount of energy and stress it takes to place blame elsewhere takes away from your ability to move forward and find a real solution.

And remember, the road you are traveling may be the more challenging one, but don’t lose faith.  Don’t listen to the doubters, don’t let setbacks keep you down, and most of all, don’t give up on yourself.

It’s okay if you don’t know how much more you can handle.  It’s fine if you don’t know exactly what to do next.  Eventually you’ll let go of how things ‘should be’ and start to see all the great possibilities in front of you.  This is your life – grab the wheel with both hands and keep steering yourself in the right direction.

Photo by: Toni Blay

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  • Thank you! Such positive, practical advice for the month ahead. Timely and on point as usual.

  • I’ve been having a rough time getting on point lately, and I randomly saw this article pop up in my feed reader. You just motivated me to give up the excuses and move forward with my goal. I’m getting on it now!

    Best regards.

  • I am grateful every day for the positive principles you instill in my life. :)

  • Thank you for the great reminders. 8, 9, and 10 are the ones I have to work hard on…

  • Interesting article. It is also worth keeping in mind that just as success requires giving up things, it is also important to have a goal in mind and a way forward. To this end, I am reminded of the well-known “SMART” criteria for goals: To increase the odds of success, a goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and have a Time limit.

  • Your posts seem to know exactly the right time to appear in my inbox! Another great one from you guys, love your work :-)

  • I really love almost everything you write and put together for us. Thanks.

  • What a motivating article… here’s to success! Very good one.

  • This is an amazing post, dude. And it’s all so true, it’s ridiculous that we get into these negative loops or “doing nothing” feedback circles because of fear, laziness, blame, etc. A big one of these for my family is “Give up blaming everyone else.” We’re pretty good at the blame game; but if everyone (including myself) just took responsibilty for their own actions, their own outcomes, and their own reactions, unnecessary drama would clear up instantly!

  • I need messages all the time to stay positive and focus on today and tomorrow, not the past. Thanks for always providing food for thought.

  • I especially like number six, “Give up relationships that want you to be someone else.”

    If you are someone truly remarkable, which is something we should all strive for, being yourself is truly amazing. We all have room for improvement but it is our responsibility to be ourselves. After all, no one else can be “you”.

  • Grace and gratitude for another inspiring post of practical wisdom.

  • In the chaos of my life right now, it’s sometimes hard to find direction. And that’s why I read your blog. It helps.

  • What fabulous reminders. I think one of the hardest sticking points in using these tools is having the distance to see that you’re using excuses, stuck in perfectionism, waiting, being a victim or any of the others.

    Any ideas on how to make sure you, or really I’m asking for me ;), create the distance to assess where you are?

  • I needed this today. And so does my 25 year old son. (I forwarded it to him via your share link. Thanks for that.) We are both trying to transition ourselves to a better life. Even though we are shuffling through different demons and issues, the advice you wrote will help us both. For me, 1,7, and 8 are especially inspirational. I know my son will take 2,3, and 4 to heart. Good writing, good work, and I really appreciate it. jacy.

  • “You ARE today where your thoughts and actions have brought you; you WILL BE tomorrow where your thoughts and actions take you.”

    What a great quote!

  • Interesting article.

    I’ve noticed that the most successful people are often the ones who are the most focused - they tend to put all their energy towards one “thing.”

    For me, being successful means having a balanced lifestyle – being able to priorities work, family, friends, entertainment, volunteering, travelling, learning, etc.

  • Thank you! Sometimes the truth is hard to deal with… but this post helps.

  • Thanks Marc. Another great post and a reminder that giving up all those things leave you room to engage with life in a way that will create success.

  • Thank you for posting this. Will practice! Will try!

  • Thank you! I especially like #5, giving up entitlement. We can be very spoiled sometimes–especially while receiving services. It’s not all about us sometimes!

  • Thank you for your positive insight on life and success. It sure helps to keep my thinking from being stinking thinking! Bless You Both.

  • Thank you!!! As always…

  • “Give up the habit of waiting.” This is absolutely what I need to work on the most. Thank you for this post! It brought that to the front of my mind!

  • Very true. Some people spend their lives being a victim and it gets them nowhere. And sadly some of the same people endlessly wait for success to come knocking on their door, and of course that doesn’t happen either…

  • Thanks for another compass. The message is just my need for the month of June as I have so many things to face, but my yesterday’s unfinished role keep on reflecting. Thanks for the proper way to handle the past while facing the future.

  • I recently subscribed to your posts and they are exactly what I need right now. I am making it a priority to be the best I can be and embrace the unique person I am. #3 and #9 are ones I really need to work on. Thank you for all your great posts; I look forward to reading them everyday. I also bookmark the blogs that I need to refer back to when I find myself getting “trapped” in past thoughts and behaviors. I love this site! Keep up helping all of us who need your words of truth and encouragement.

  • @J Story: Excellent points on SMART goals. We’ve discussed that before in detail in the post 12 Things Successful People Do Differently.

    @Claudia: It’s a gradual process. But think of this: In life, you are either making decisions or you are making excuses. It’s one or the other - decisions or excuses. Make decisions, always.

    @Claude: No doubt, being successful means different things to different people. But one principle remains universal: Focusing on what’s truly important to YOU and those you love.

    @All: As always, thanks for making Angel and I smile with your kind remarks. And thanks for all the added insight. Keep sharing your ideas and tips with us. We appreciate it.

  • thank you for giving me inspiration everyday. you guys rock! x

  • Inspirational.. Thank you very much!

  • This is a great list that can serve as a daily reminder for us all on how to cut the &*%^ and become more successful. Implementing is of course the challenge!

  • Great ideas here and in 12 Things Successful People Do Differently. Added this site to my favorites!

  • v.v.very cool! Where from you come up with the incredible inspirations for all these articles? Amazing! :)

  • Thanks Marc! Truly inspiring!

  • Truly wonderful tips. I enjoyed these very much.

  • I have been subscribed to you since January this year, your words are so wise and always seem to come at precisely the right time. Please write a book, we need it in our lives!

    June 5th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    :-) Thank you Marc, it is beautifully inspiring.

  • Thanks a lot. Great advice!

  • Wow. Wow. Wow. I have never ever found such beautiful post filled with positive thoughts and practical examples. Such a master-piece. Thank you so so very much.

  • I like that you mention here give up the habit of waiting. How True is that, yes indeed action is needed to get to our goals.

  • I’ve been making an effort to destroy the inner perfectionist. My mother constantly criticized me for all the tiny mistakes, so I built up this pattern of always judging myself, always trying to be perfect.
    Now I’m giving myself permission to be reckless, my only criteria for success is that I take action, regardless of whether or not it is “perfect” or not

  • Adeleye Emmanuel
    June 7th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    My day does not seem complete without a visit to this site. Articles are always superbly written, timely and precisely on point. Marc and Angel, thank you so much…

  • Best site I ever visited. Such positive thoughts. I have learned so much in here. Keep it up.

  • Thanks for reminding these important principles I usually forget. Bless you guys

  • I love you guys and all your inspiration, You are making this world a better place!


    Michael Hidalgo

  • I would like to share this article “10 Things You Must Give Up to Be Successful” on my organization’s FB Page; however, I don’t see a FB link. Can you assist me?

    Thanks with kind regards,
    Alison Soroka

  • Great article, love the words of encouragement. How you view life comes from within and the choice is pretty much ours. I for one will be positive about my present and future. This has given me the right sort of mental frame for today. THANKS!

  • Thanks this was great and i gained a lot of confidence and wisdom from this - time to take full control of my life.

  • This advice helped me and my peers very much, thank you for your time of creating this useful list, you should president!! ;D thank you.

  • Where is “give up guilt”?

    I read what you’ve written and it seems you’re leaving the door open for guilt.

    No. 10 says “give up blaming everyone else.” It doesn’t say “give up blaming.” For many of us, taking responsiblility involves the self-blame that is better called guilt. And you don’t seem to see anything unhealthy about that.

    Please help me understand here.

  • I love this list. I love all your lists. One of the best parts is the language used — so simple, to the point, and direct. The cherry on top for me was the timing of this article. Thank you. :)

  • Paul: I understand what you’re saying. I’m no expert but I think there may be some confusion about responsibility and guilt.

    To me, to be ‘responsible’ suggests accountability, ownership, and acceptance of my influences as well as limitations. It is also an acceptance of consequences. And so, it’s a recognition that I am accountable, and that what I do — or don’t do — will carry consequences that I will have to live with. Being responsible is taking all of those into consideration, including the ‘live with’ part as it is part of being responsible for myself and my own well-being.

    Guilt, on the other hand, is more….negative (?). It is an effect of doing something knowing it’s wrong, or inappropriate, or even a knee-jerk reaction, without a forethought. Guilt is more a result of failing to be responsible for others or self, or both.

    In a nut shell, responsibility is action, where guilt is a reaction.

  • I love number 7. Don’t wait to be picked. Pick yourself!

  • I love the “give up being perfect” tip. For a perfectionist, that’s a big hurdle. A friend of mine, also a reformed perfectionist, told me something once that completely changed my entire approach. He said something like “there’s nothing wrong with having high standards and striving for them. But trying to be perfect when it’s an imperfect world and we’re imperfect beings, is insanity. Don’t feel like you have to ditch your desire for high quality and getting the best out of yourself and life, just realise that perfection is impossible”. Gold! Bernadette :-)

  • Excellent post! I will definitely read the books suggested. Totally need it to get myself motivated again for grad school! Thank you.

  • This post is wonderful and gives me confidence. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

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