The bad habits you need to drop if you want to start killing it in your 20s

May 24, 2017
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The idea of what a successful twenty-something looks like is going to be different for everyone. For some it might mean landing that dream career, for others it might be success in a personal aspect of life. Whatever the goal is, there are guaranteed bad habits that will make that goal so much harder to achieve. If you want to start killing it take note, as these are the habits you need to kill ASAP.

Self doubt

You might not think it’s a big deal, you might even call it being humble. But self-doubt can damage your prospects before you even get started. If you assume you’re not good enough, it can stop you taking the chance and going for that interview, or trying a little harder on that essay. One study found that self-doubt can cause “defensive, protective behaviour”, which the study labelled as “self-handicapping”. If you’re in a job interview, you want to be confident you’ll ace it. If you doubt yourself and your abilities, it’ll be obvious and get in the way of your success.


The bad habit of putting it off is never going to do you any favours. It might seem innocent when it’s just an essay you’ve left to the last minute, but it sets a precedent for that behaviour that will happen over and over again. If your dream requires that next crucial step but you keep putting it off, you’re only doing a disservice to yourself. Future you will be mad you didn’t do it sooner – it’s probably not as scary as you think.

Comparing yourself and your achievements to others

This is a dangerous habit that links back to the first point – the more you compare yourself to others, the more likely you are to experience doubt and feel like a failure. Everyone’s at different life stages, so it’s not a sign of failure if you’re not as far along in life as a friend or a colleague. If you want to get ahead, there’s no time like now to get started. But put behind the part where you measure yourself against others – aim for the achievements that you want, not what somebody else wants.

Playing it safe and being too afraid to take risks

Playing it safe won’t make you happy; maybe it’ll be comfortable, but after a while you’ll want something more. Maybe you’ve started at a job you don’t love, but it’s too hard and scary to go after what you really want. It’s a risk to put yourself out on a limb and leave the safety blanket, but that risk will always be worth it over living a comfortable and boring life.

Being worried about what people think

This will hold you back more than you think. If you’re holding back from taking the next leap because you’re worried someone won’t approve, you’ve got to consider if your dream is worth it. Maybe it’s changing to an Arts degree when your parents want you to study law or dropping out altogether because you're unhappy – there’s no point making yourself miserable because of the expectations of others. You might even be building it all up in your head, imagining a worse outcome than what the reality probably is. If you do what is best for you, people will be more understanding than you think.