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5 “Downhill” Habits and How to Defeat Them

By Maxwell Leadership | November 15, 2022
5 “Downhill” Habits and How to Defeat Them

Great relationships. Physical health and wholeness. Financial security. Personal significance. 

Ask 100 people whether or not they want these things, or even just one of these things, and it would be a safe bet that all 100 people will say yes. It’s an IQ test – a very simple question.

Then, ask the same 100 people how many of them make decisions that reflect their desires. Do they set aside time to invest in their loved ones? Has their gym membership gone unused since three weeks into January? Are they conscientious of their budget? Have they dedicated time each day to personal growth? Unfortunately, these questions won’t get as many yeses.


Because everything worthwhile is uphill. Anything worth having requires intention and effort to gain. Meanwhile, average asks so little of us. Amid busy schedules and day-to-day drudgery, it can be easy for many of us to trade our uphill hopes for downhill behaviors.

So, what’s the key to consistent climbing?

Uphill or Downhill Habits – Your Thoughts Decide

Many of Dr. John Maxwell’s principles for personal development can be summed up in one word: habit. He says, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do every day. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”

But what guides our habits? They take their cues from our thoughts. We can only act according to our beliefs – so if we want to change how we act, we must change how we think.

Has your personal growth journey been frustrated by “downhill” habits? One of these “downhill” thoughts could be behind them.


Procrastination is a dream-killing habit – and an alarmingly common one, at that. One study found that nearly 25% of adults consider procrastination one of their core personality traits.

This trajectory-killing tendency stems from the expectation that whatever we’re doing won’t go well. We’ll fail; we’ll disappoint; we’ll fall short. Naturally, when we believe this, we stay in one spot. In the face of such negativity, we’re paralyzed. (Think about it… if you believed your parachute wouldn’t open, would you go skydiving?)

Counter the pessimism with possibility. When you’re anticipating a positive outcome, you’re ready to engage – suddenly, you become an active participant.


We live in the age of the eight-second attention span. As media gets shorter and everything becomes more personalized, our patience wanes, and an appreciation of delayed gratification becomes a lost art form.

Growth becomes almost impossible when we do only what fulfills us today. Growth is best experienced after compounding interest, which takes time, while immediate gratification promises us “satisfaction” right now. Many of us remain inconsistent because we can only do what rewards us in the short term.

Immediate gratification lives for the moment. Delayed gratification lives for a movement. Shifting our focus from satisfaction to significance helps us recognize the value of a daily commitment to growth.


“Should not” are two words that have held back many from their full potential.

Growth is not as simple as water and sunlight. Under the soil, the plant struggles to break through the seed, only to continue to push past darkness and resistance. In order to grow, we must breach our own comfort zone and navigate uncertainty.

When we start thinking about what’s fair and what’s unfair, we stop pushing past the resistance. We sit ourselves down on the sidelines and wait for things to happen – we become observers of our own lives.

But everything worthwhile is uphill.

Growth cannot happen without challenge. Recognizing this fortifies us against obstacles and prepares us to rise to meet them.


Why do you want to grow?

Some start their personal growth journey because they want to be better, do more, or have something beyond their current capacity. In fact, many people begin to grow because they want something. They often find their growth more satisfying than accomplishing their goal.

But some do not develop that desire. Their growth journey becomes a mirror that they can’t see past. They see all decisions in terms of what’s good for them.

But the end goal of growth is to maximize our potential so that we can add more value to others. Growth is not a self-centered game – it is a service-centered game. Making the transition from selfishness to significance expands your scope and multiplies your motivation.

What are you doing to choose growth?

At Maxwell Leadership, our heart is personal growth and development. It is so much part of our DNA that at our twice-annual event, the International Maxwell Conference, we have an entire day dedicated to personal growth – and we’d like to invite you to join.

On March 13, 2023, join Dr. John C. Maxwell and his panel of personal growth experts at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida (or remotely!) for an entire day of growth and development training. Not only will you connect with other professionals passionate about achieving their full potential, but you’ll also go home equipped with an intentional action plan to begin putting in place same-day.

You can register for Personal Growth Day here – we would love to grow with you!

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