3 Bad Habits You Should Break to Change Your Life

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 in mindset by Pat Mesiti | 7 Comments

Are there some personal habits that you find particularly annoying? For example people who speak loudly on their mobile phones in cafes, so loudly that you are drawn into the conversation whether you like it or not? There is a raft of other personal habits that are irritating. What about people who put their feet on public transport seats? The list of annoying personal habits is endless, but could it be that the personal habits that cause us the most damage are ones we practice ourselves? I believe the most damaging of all personal habits is three particular forms of negative thinking.

In my book Dreamers never sleep, I argued that before you set out on any new challenge you need to have a long hard look at your preconceived ideas. Perceptions are so powerful that they can limit the outcome of any undertaking. So if you start a business thinking that it might do moderately well and you should be able to make ends meet, then I predict that your business will do just moderately well, and, sure, you’ll make ends meet. But if you’d gone into that business enterprise believing that it could be tremendously successful and grow rapidly, well you’d have seen a very different outcome. You’d now have a business that is booming.

So if I was going to write a list of the top three worst habits to break, number one on that list would be to focus on changing the perception you have of yourself and your abilities. Do not tell yourself that you are a mediocre performer who is destined to shuffle through life. Tell yourself the truth, you have unique and wonderful talents and are capable of achieving great things.

Failing to recognise our own strength

Unfortunately we limit ourselves by failing to recognise our own strength, tenacity and talents, and chances are, we fail to recognise these skills in other people too. An older woman, in a nondescript dress and worn cardigan, started up a conversation with me recently while I was in a hardware store. My first perception was that this woman was someone’s grandmother and had spent much of her life being a homemaker in the suburbs – we’d have little in common, but she mentioned her time working on the Australian stock market as a broker and soon we were talking about our travels overseas. She had spent much of her life abroad and even worked as a secretary for the editor of The New York Times in the 1970s. She’d clearly led a very full and adventurous life and was still brimming with joy and enthusiasm for this world. My initial perceptions of her were totally wrong. This chance encounter was a gift to me. It reminded me that people are invariably more talented, interesting and brave than we give them credit.

Pre-judging people

Number two on my list of bad habits to break, is to not pre-judge people. Your friends, colleagues, staff and family members undoubtedly have a sway of talents, passions and skills that you have not yet noticed. Invest some time in getting to know people, personally or professionally and you will be amazed at how much talent, skill, knowledge and experience they hide.

I love watching old mystery movies. When the police move on a suspect, the much maligned person usually mutters, “I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just minding my own business” or “I wasn’t causing any harm, I was just keeping to myself”.  Are you someone who believes you never cause any trouble because you just move through life minding your own business – keeping to yourself? Let me ask you another question, do you think the world’s greatest leaders –Napoleon, George Washington, Martin Luther King – ever told anyone they were just minding their own business? Our attitude to life invariably impacts on other people. Enthusiasm is contagious, at home and work. Joy and happiness are highly infective! So if you think you are doing no harm, because you keep yourself to yourself then you are wrong. You are most likely spreading apathy. Instead, share your enthusiasm for life. Just a smile can inspire another human. A compliment to an employee or co-worker on the quality of their work can boost their zeal for the job. Consider spontaneously inviting a family member to do something fun with you. Remind them how much you love them.

Underestimating our impact on people

Number three on my list of bad habits to break is to stop under-estimating the impact you have on other people – at home and work.

Have you ever read the amazing life story of Colonel Harland Sanders, the man behind Kentucky Fried Chicken? His father died at five and his mother worked in a factory to support her family. After a life of struggles, Sanders, aged in his forties, opened a little roadside diner in North Carolina in the 1930s, but then the war broke out, petrol was rationed and his customers dried up. In the 1950s, Sanders, by now aged in his sixties, was desperate to find a restaurant prepared to serve his chicken. He travelled by car to different restaurants and cooked his chicken on the spot for restaurant owners. For four years, sleeping in his car, he travelled across America and 1009 restaurants rejected his recipe – 1009!  Then in 1952 a Utah restauranteur said yes and opened a franchise with the colonel. By 1964, he had a franchise of six-hundred restaurants selling his trademark chicken.

Sanders must have been a man who had broken my top three worst habits of (1) underestimating himself, (2) underestimating other people and (3) underestimating the impact he could have on others. And Colonel Sanders was also an individual with one very good personal habit – perseverance. This individual was rejected more than a thousand times and yet he still believed in himself. That’s one good habit we should all adopt – an unshakeable belief in our own potential.


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


  1. Libby says:

    I wish I could help everyone with poor self-esteem to recognize their innate skills, knowledge and abilities – self belief is so very important for both mental and physical health.
    Thank you Pat..

  2. Stefan Galamaga says:

    Can we ask ourselves; What is the difference? “I can do this; what ever it takes” – “this is too hard l give up.”
    Perhaps a gem from Star Wars – Yoda to the young Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker ” Try? – Do or Do not.” is relevant. And we know if we use a mentor that has already succeeded all we have to do is follow the advice and ACTION!
    It’s our choice – Continue the actions and habits and mindset that is not working for us (which is the definition of madness!) or Change our Mindsets adopt and ACTION paths that are proven to work.
    A special mentor of mine promotes the idea of Shift your Mindset, Touch and get in line with Your Heart ACTION and the $ will follow.
    Thanks Pat.

  3. Barb Bowden says:

    Hi Pat
    I totally agree with your 3 key points. I started my business up in 1987 and built up a very well respected, independent conveyancing agency which i then sold in 2008 living and working by those 3 key points.
    I also really enjoyed the Perth semminar last weekend and look forward to attending more in the future.

    Best wishes.

  4. Gabriel Boikanyo says:

    Hi Mr Mesiti. I thank you for everything you have done for me since 2015 to date. Please advise, how do you deal with a relapse from self esteem and confidence?

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hi Gabriel,

      Do you mean “how to deal with a relapse in low self esteem and low self-confidence”? If so, I strongly recommend adopting a daily discipline, such as listening to a motivational CD or reading a motivational book or attending seminars. I also recommend spending time with positive, confident, happy people.

      Hope this helps!

  5. Katy Ramminger says:

    Hi Pat
    The above is so relevant and I feel are already known to most. However we all need reminders, thankyou. I call them inner voice messages. They just need to come out….
    Remember those achievements from the past? How did they happen, how did they feel😃🎺🎵

    What is it that I can do next?

    Thanks again

    • Pat Mesiti says:

      Hey Katy,

      The best thing to do is keep on learning and investing time in your growth by listening to motivational CDs, attending seminars and reading books. You’ll always pick up something that’s key to helping you.

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