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Stephen Covey taught us the habits of highly effective people. We learned them, we applied them, and we benefitted greatly from them. David Allen taught us how to get things done. We learned the techniques and our productivity increased dramatically. But not everyone made gains. Most people—in fact about 90%—still struggle with getting things done. The reason: Their own habits prevent them from doing what it takes to achieve their goals.

Theirs are the 7 habits of highly ineffective people:

1. They doubt they have what it takes.

Highly ineffective people are tormented by self-doubt. They lack confidence. They are never sure that they have what it takes to be successful. They confuse lack of experience with lack of ability. They see challenges as threats, and hear feedback as criticism. They prefer the familiar to the unknown, and the security of not trying to the risk of failing—until one day they stop looking for opportunities altogether.

2. They wait too long to get started.

Highly ineffective people procrastinate a lot. And the longer they wait to get something done, the higher the chances that it will never get done. They perceive time as endless and forgiving, without realizing that time—unlike money—is the only resource that you cannot recover when you lose it. Those who are able to meet deadlines, even at the last minute, develop a false sense of confidence that they can "get things done." They don’t understand, however, that getting things done is very different from getting things done well.

3. They lose their patience faster.

Highly ineffective people don’t like to wait too long. They are fans of quick results: Get rich quick. Get thin quick. Get smart quick. And they get disappointed quick when they don’t get results fast. They constantly look for shortcuts: Which highway lane is the fastest? Which grocery store line is the shortest? Which bank teller is the quickest? They constantly fight the clock, trying to get things done fast rather than well. But by trading quality for speed, they eventually spend more time fixing errors than making progress.

4. They multitask shamelessly.

Highly ineffective people are unable to focus on one thing at a time. They put too much on their plate and they try to eat it all at once. They talk to you while texting someone else. They listen in on a conference call while building their to-do list for the week. Their idea of making plans is to overbook themselves solid. At the end of the day, they feel physically and mentally exhausted, but without much to show for it all.

5. They want change without having to change.

Highly ineffective people welcome change but don’t embrace it. They desperately want a change in their life, but resist doing what it takes. They object to new ideas and oppose new practices. They avoid learning new techniques or applying new technologies. And they are blind to different points of view. They are persistent, but they become stubborn. Eventually, they cross they line between persevering and perseverating. They embody the phrase, "You can’t teach an old dog new tricks."

6. They strive for perfection.

Highly ineffective people work hard, but waste their efforts on details—often, details that no one else cares about—and miss the main point. They are more interested in coming up with a "perfect" idea than a useful one. They are more invested in creating a flawless product than learning what to do to improve it. They care more about avoiding making mistakes than learning from them and growing. As a result, their pursuit of goals becomes a wild goose chase.

7. They complain a lot.

Highly ineffective people have a pessimistic view on life. They spend more time and energy complaining about what is wrong, blaming others for it, and feeling sorry for themselves, than focusing on ways to make things better. They can make mountains out of molehills, and they also like to believe that they have no responsibility whatsoever for the state of their own lives.

This is how highly ineffective people pursue their goals. These are their brainblocks. And this is why they struggle to get the results they want.

Which one are you guilty of?  Make a confession in the comment box below.

To learn more about how dreamers become achievers, check out Brainblocks: Overcoming the 7 Hidden Barriers to Success (Penguin, 2015).

If you don’t have time to read an entire book but still want to know what the brainblocks are and how dreamers become achievers, check out scenes from my speech at St. John’s College in Annapolis.

And if procrastination is getting in the way of doing either, get a free copy of my ebook Getting Things Done SOONERR™!

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