Everyone loves a good success story, right? But what about those people who aren’t successful in life? We ever talk about them… until now.  Someone recently asked me, “What types of people don’t succeed in life.”  I found it an interesting question both because I used to be one of these people, and I used to hang out with a bunch of these types of people.  Admittedly, this got me thinking about the different behavioral traits among people who tend to not succeed in life.  Based upon my own observations and experiences, here are the types of people who typically do not succeed in life:


1. People who do not take personal responsibility for themselves: These are the people who blame other people for their mistakes. Some of these folks blame their friends and loved ones for their failures. Other people cite vast societal and governmental conspiracies that target the person’s race, skin color, religion, gender, or other identity factors.


2. People who normalize the symptoms of generational poverty: Drug and alcohol abuse, violence, etc. are not recipes for success.  Too bad, there are plenty of people who consider these things normal.  To make matters worse, these types tend to hang around a group of like-minded people, thus reinforcing their nihilistic and fatalistic world views. Someone wrote a song about these people:


3. People who self-sabotage: Since we’re on the topic of dysfunctional families, self-sabotage is a common trait shared by these folks. It’s not that they’re afraid of success, it’s that they’re absolutely certain that failure is sure to follow. If failure is all they’ve ever known, this is not a irrational outlook. People who engage in self-sabotage are people who would rather be in control of their own failure rather than the randomness of outside forces. Believe it or not, there is a certain peace of mind that comes from knowing you orchestrated your own destruction. It’s also a tragic waste of potential.


4. People who live parasitic lifestyles:  Okay, these folks will have some amount of success early in their game-playing days. But despite the good run, these types eventually hit a dead end once their looks and charm fade, and most people get wise to their game. I’ve seen this happen firsthand on at least two occasions.


5. People who believe that they are owed success without putting in the commensurate amount of work:  Read: narcissistic personality traits.  These people are able to achieve small, modest successes but always fall short of grabbing that proverbial brass ring because they think they’re owed it.


6. The adult child, aka the failure-to-launch type:  Do you have that friend who’s got the dream but not the drive? They talk a good game about all the things they want to do in life but never end up doing it? These are usually those proverbial basement dwellers in their parents’ homes. I’ve known a few of these types and it’s always the same story: they’re spirit was crushed by psychologically abusive parents long ago. Despite their very adult-looking skins, these people are wounded children inside. They have a million and one ideas on what they’d like to do with their lives but they’re too afraid to take a chance. The familiar, even if it’s a miserable familiar, is more safe and comfortable than the unknown for this type. Sad.


7. People who give up too easily:  These folks start out with a great idea and the streak through the sky like a meteor to make it a reality.  These are the same folks who give up on their dreams the moment they run into trouble.  These people don’t realize that everyone makes mistakes, even some of the most successful people in the world. You have to expect to fail or fall short sometimes.  It happens. Unfortunately, the give-up-quick crowd doesn’t understand this.


8. People who are too stubborn/proud to learn from their mistakes:  These folks are worse than those who give up too easily.  These bull-headed types would rather grip the controls of a burning plane knowing that it will crash into the mountain before they would turn the wheel over to someone who could save them.  If you have someone like in your life, get off the plane.  (Pull a D.B. Cooper if you have to!)


9. People who are cannot learn from others: America loves a success story, and there are hundreds of thousands of these tales in every bookstore.  There are also success stories in our lives.  Everyone knows at least one person who’s been successful in at least one of life’s aspects.  Anyone who fails to take advantage of the many experts who are willing to share their knowledge is someone who’s doomed to fail.


10. People who make poor life decisions:  Our decisions, good or bad, have long-lasting consequences.  A lot of us make these mistakes – marrying the wrong person, having kids too soon, making poor buying decisions, etc. – when we’re young. It’s a little easier to bounce back from these failures if you commit them in your youth.  People who continue to make the same mistake over and over again are destined for an unsuccessful life.  They’re not learning from their mistakes.


11. People who believe that there is nobility in poverty/failure:  Example: “I might not have much, but at least I’m a good person.”  Life is not so binary as these types would have you believe.  There’s no crossroads in life where people either choose to be wealthy or moral.  There are plenty of good rich people and plenty of bad poor ones to prove this true.  This kind of self talk is adult self-soothing behavior designed to impart some type of moral high ground onto someone’s poor life choices.  For the sake of your own success, avoid these people like the plague.


“I Failed in Life!”

Success is a mindset.  If you believe you will succeed, you will. If you think you won’t, you usually don’t.  I’ve outlined a few types of people who won’t succeed in life.  It would be too easy for us to discuss the people we know who fall into one or more of these categories.  It would be harder for us to admit that we’ve been one or more of these types of people throughout our lifetime.  This would be much more interesting, though.  So, did you ever engage in any of this behavior?  If so, I’d like to read about it.  Bonus: If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine!


About J.P. Ribner, Indie Author

J.P. Ribner is the author of the Viking fantasy adventure series, The Berserker’s Saga. Currently, the saga features three novels – Legacy of the Bear, Prophecy of the Bear, and The Berserker’s Return.  He’s also in the process of editing his next book, Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir.  Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, J.P. now lives in the Metro Detroit area with his wife and three sons.