5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When You Get Closer to Success

photograph by Michael Steele / Getty Images

So you’re on your way to success

We all know the usual problems that people face when they start their journey to make it big. Like having too high expectations. Or having no plan. Or letting resistance get the better of you. The kind of stuff a lot is being said about. When people get passed that rookie, fresh on the scene phase, another sort of challenges arise. Those are all based on one thing: an obsession with achieving. Instead of that healthy drive to make it, you want it so bad that you just take it too far.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when people have that kind of passion. But sometimes, you need a bit of direction. It is like training for the Olympics: you should head towards your goals every day. But nobody would advise you to hit the gym 24/7. Good intention, wrong outcome. Here are five common pitfalls that people face, once they get underway in making it great.

1. Working day & night

You want success so badly that you are willing to take extreme measures to get it. But instead of working dedicatedly towards your goals, you burn yourself out. I love the motivation video of ET, The Hip Hop Preacher. Here is what he says:

ET The Hip Hop Preacher
‘And I’m here to tell you today that if you want to be successful you got to be willing to give up sleep. You have to be willing to work off of three hours of sleep, two hours of sleep. If you really want to be successful, some day you’re going to have to stay up three days in a row because if you go to sleep you might miss the opportunity to be successful. That’s how bad you got to want it.’
ET The Hip Hop Preacher

I hear what you are trying to say, Mr. E.T. ‘I want ‘it’ as bad as I want to breath’. So I am willing to give up sleep. But I am here to tell you, I sleep 7 hours per day on average. To be successful, I think sometimes you must be willing to resist the urge to stay up. For better balance. For more creativity. And for winning in the long run.

2. All work and no play

You may find that while you are in social settings (your cousin’s birthday, your best friend’s wedding) your mind is elsewhere. Instead of having fun and enjoying the presence of friends and family, you are still thinking (quietly) about work. Or you feel like wasting time, because ‘you should have been working right now’. While I admire people that love their work that much, it is just not healthy to feel guilty for spending time on non-work related things. As one of our personal development hero’s, the late Zig Ziglar puts it:

Zig Ziglar
‘I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.’
Zig Ziglar

Make sure to set aside some quality time for the people who and the things that are important to you.

3. Wanting everything to be ‘productive’ hours

Brian Tracy famously said that ‘our greatest resource is our time’. No wonder why on the road to success, many people want all hours to be productive hours. Sure thing. However, free time well spent actually has a great influence on your work. And for optimal productivity, it is actually recommended not to work more than 40 hours a week. You should think of your free time as an investment in yourself.

Easier said than done. I literally had days when I sat behind my laptop from early in the morning to late at night. My former roommates sometimes went to work, came back, went out again and still saw me on the exact same spot. I couldn’t care less at that time. But when I look back, I now feel like I wasted precious time. Make sure you don’t!


First, you could continuously remind yourself to live life to the fullest by looking at quotes you stick to the wall or you put on your screensaver.


Daily question

You could also establish a great daily routine like Steve Jobs did, making you aware of the presence everyday:

Steve Jobs
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Steve Jobs

Get disturbed 

What also helps is to get disturbed on a regular base. I used to have a love-hate relationship with this Kanye West song. The part of the lyrics that struck me again and again was:

Kanye West
‘Chased the good life my whole life long. Looked back on my life and my life´s gone.´
Kanye West

This was such an eye-opener and whenever I listened to it, I knew I had to change things in my life.

Mini breaks

Once you get going, you can even plan on taking it to the next level. Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York design studio for a year every seven years, which has such a great effect on his business that TED invited him to speak about it. Tim Ferriss takes mini-retirements and returns writing another best-seller. We now regularly take mini breaks too, which has a wonderful impact on our work. If successful people can take time off for months, then why can’t you, starting with just a few days?

Sheraz Zeeland

On our mini breaks, we usually take our racing bikes. Here, we are in ‘Zeeland’. By the way, Sheraz is not sleeping, he is brainstorming :).

 4. Not making the most of your free time, once you have it

´To get the most out of your free time, you got to plan it like you plan your work.´ – Kazmi & Kazmi

People that are continuously working sometimes forget how to spend their free time. Once they have it, instead of spending time on their hobbies or with family, they sit home feeling bored.  It is important to plan out your free time, the same way you would plan a work day.

5. Chasing too many dreams

There were times in our lives that we were busy shipping multiple giant projects at a time. Like writing our first marketing book AND our first cook book AND founding a new restaurant AND creating this site, while managing all of our existing brands ALL AT ONCE. While it is not impossible, almost always it is better to focus. Most people understand that it is almost impossible to be a professional soccer player AND an Olympic swimmer at the same time. But for entrepreneurs, sometimes it is hard to see when to say no. Once you get the taste of entrepreneurial success, you get hungry for more. Be aware and while you should envision the top, stay realistic at the same time. And once you done your to do’s for the day, sometimes just end your working day instead of already doing the to do’s of tomorrow. What works for us is the wonderful goal-setting program created by Zig, simplified by Seth.

Enjoy the journey

People who get closer to success, often find their passion to become an obsession. Watch out! While it is great that you want success so badly, don’t let this ruin your healthy balance. This won’t be good for you, neither for your goals. Success is a journey, make sure it is a good one.


by Nawaz

Nawaz (1987) from The Netherlands is one of the two brothers who founded INMWTS. As the secret behind 6 unusual, but successful brands, they live their dream since 2009 and encourage others to do the same. Go, nail your way to success!