5 things you need to let go of to succeed at work

There’s no such thing as free lunch – you always pay for the price of ambition. Are you giving up the right things that will truly lead to success? While most of us will face different challenges in life, here are 5 of the most common hurdles that are likely getting you stuck in the same cubicle or daydream. Which one of these are you ready to let go of this year? 

1. Wanting to be in control of everything

You work keeps on piling up, but you’ll never be able to multiply your hands or brains – so who should adjust? It can’t be your job, right? The key to slaying all your tasks is to delegate them to people who can do them for you and trust that they will do a good job. Sadly, it is trust that’s been keeping most of us from succeeding. 

When we want full control of the output, we become territorial, like dogs guarding their treats. We regress into this grade-conscious high school student who monopolizes the work on a book report out of fear that his groupmates will ruin it. Does this sound familiar to you?

Successful people know that to achieve more things, they have to let go of their messianic complex, thinking that only they can get the job done. Instead, they empower people to work on their behalf. 

While micromanagement can be beneficial at the start of the race, you’ll need to let your people do things on their own at some point too. And here’s a bonus tip: based on research, people perform better when they’re empowered to make decisions under minimal supervision.  

2. Saying ‘yes’ to all tempting opportunities

When we think of successful people like Jack Ma or Elon Musk, we imagine a very busy person who sleeps 4 hours a day to accomplish a hundred things per week. What these successful people reveal, however, is that their success is based on their ability to focus on only a few things.

It’s a feat to contact thousands of customers in a week – but money is made when you choose to focus your time on only a dozen profiled customers who will likely make a purchase. It matters to filter and say 'no.'

Similarly, you can’t dream to become a Taylor Swift, a Mahatma Gandhi, or a Steve Jobs all at the same time. You have to choose one. Science proves it: humans can only multitask up to 3 projects. As we add more work, these tasks transform into distractions which only make our execution poorer. 

You don’t need to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity of success. Success also requires knowing when and how to say no. 

3. Keeping people who bring negativity to your life 

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Think deeply of the 5 people you spend your most time with: do they bring the good or the bad out of you? Are they making you a better person? Are you learning something from them? Or are they the ones who cause your everyday stress? Do they simply leech from what you have?

We may not choose our family, but we can choose our friends and the company we work for. Never feel bad for getting rid of those that only drag you down. After all, it is your duty to exhaust all means to achieve your dreams. Surround yourself with people who can help you get close to those dreams – people who will cheer for you, mentor you, and lend you a hand when you need help.

4. Needing people’s affirmation for every action that you do 

Being that Mr. Nice Guy who never argues with a colleague could be a great office badge. But remember that it’s normal to not please everybody, too. At some point in your career, you will make decisions that may be unpopular and painful to some colleagues but eventually end up as the best solution for the majority.  

When you have to stand up for what you believe is right, don’t feel bad when people judge you. When your teammates label you as the "teacher’s pet" because you’ve proven that a challenging report can be submitted on time (and they haven’t) – that’s their problem, not yours, right? We’re talking about your success here, so why should you ask for people’s approval? 

Do what’s good for you or the company, not just for what will make people happy. Let them laugh at you today, you’ll have the last laugh tomorrow.

5. Waiting for the perfect moment before acting on a decision

When I wrote my first book for almost a year, I was very picky of my schedules to write the chapters because I felt I had to be "in the perfect mood." When I realized that mood was so elusive, I forced myself to write even when then mood was unromantic. I'd write during hurried lunch breaks. I’d type on my phone while queueing at the bank. I’d write during those lazy 14-hour flights. I discovered that waiting for the perfect time was my enemy that kept me from succeeding. Instead, I took the unperfect moment and made the most out of it. I never got the perfect words that I wanted in my first drafts, but hey, I had something to edit and work on. And page by page, I succeeded in finishing my first book despite my full-time job.

I don’t think I’ll ever be the best writer in the world, but I know I’ve accomplished far better than those talented writers who waited too much and never got to publish anything. 

At times when it matters the most, it's better to present something than go empty-handed. Get it done – even if it may not look good – as long as you have something to build on (trust me, it does get better eventually). Get it done, because in times when it's most needed, done can be better than perfect. 

When you’ve finally decided to let go 

Remember that kicking out a bad habit or trait isn’t easy. Consistency of actions is the key. So keep score of your goals, surround yourself with people who will monitor your improvements (or warn you of your shortcomings), and be flexible when it comes to changes along the way. I wish you the best in your journey towards success! – Rappler.com

Jonathan Yabut is the Season 1 winner of the hit business reality TV show, The Apprentice Asia. He is based today in Kuala Lumpur as the Managing Director of his marketing consultancy firm, The JY Consultancy and Ventures. Jonathan is one of Asia's most-sought speakers on topics involving leadership, the Gen Y workforce, and career management for Fortune 500 companies. He has authored 2 best-selling motivational books in Asia, "From Grit To Great" in 2014 and “Fast Forward” in 2016. For speakership inquiries and media engagements, visit his website or follow his Facebook Fanpage.