5 Characteristics of People Who Fail

Not everyone is destined for success. Most of us know someone who seems to fail at nearly every aspect of life. It often makes us wonder why they act the way they do. What causes them to make poor decisions, possess a weak work ethic or have a negative outlook on life?

The traits below are commonly associated with those who steer toward failure:

A lack of confidence.

Insecurity can play a big role in failure. People who lack confidence are less likely to try new things, to take risks or to become good leaders, because they might not have the conviction that it takes. An insecure person’s doubt in their own abilities can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, being the very thing that leads them to failure and confirms their doubts.

An external locus of control.

The locus of control refers to where the person places responsibility for the things that happen in their life. Individuals who blame external circumstances for their problems and successes are those with an external locus of control. These individuals do not feel that their life depends on them. Therefore, they may not try to improve or change their lifestyle.

Impulsivity and a preference for instant gratification.

Impulsivity means following spur-of-the-moment decisions and having difficulties committing to long-term goals. Projects like businesses require not only a long-term commitment, but also the ability to follow through despite being bored, angry or wanting something now. Instant gratification means that the person prefers to find satisfaction in the moment rather than waiting. For example, a person might spend their money on something expensive impulsively, rather than being able to save money for a big project.

A fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is characterized by the perception of every characteristic and ability as a fixed character trait. A person with a fixed mindset feels like they cannot grow, improve, learn or develop any new talents. They believe that talent and other qualities are innate, so they do not think they can become better at things or learn new and useful skills.


Neuroticism has to do with a person's temperament. It involves a higher propensity for anxiety, nervousness, tension and worry. It's associated with a higher level of instability in the emotional sense. A person with this trait is more likely to be worried and stressed, which can make it easier for them to perform poorly in different situations.