5 habits working against you

When a new year starts, many of us often take it as a chance to think about our goals, particularly the ones we’re still working on. We gaze at our vision boards, open our journals, and to further put in the work, we examine the steps we’ve taken (or didn’t take). We ask ourselves why we’re still stuck, why are we not any closer to some of the goals we’ve set out to do. 

No path to achieving one’s dream is easy. We encounter unexpected roadblocks and detours. We also all have our share of doubts and fears. But when you see a pattern of your own habits pull you in the opposite direction of your goals, you have to ask yourself if you are sabotaging your own dreams. 

With the help of some of the makers we’ve interviewed for our YouTube channel, we’ve identified some habits that may prevent us from reaching our goals. 

1. Aiming for perfection.

There’s nothing wrong with setting high standards for ourselves. But perfectionism rears its immaculately coiffed head when rigidity and the fear of failure stop you from going after your dreams. 

When a brand strategist offered Hannah Armada advice on how she could improve her brand Studio Haebi, the artist went about doing her homework. She answered the hard questions about her brand (she even made a spreadsheet!) and thought of a collection. Then, in her words, she stalled. “I let the fear overtake me. I already knew who I was, I already had plans but I just didn’t have the push to do it.”

Hannah realized that the bigger problem was that she was “too afraid of [the collection] not being perfect.” She wanted to stop or at least tone down that perfectionist mindset. What she did was to open herself to other hobbies (making resin art) and learn new skills (driving). Both activities pushed her to be more patient with herself. She had always expected that she could “instantly learn or instantly do” certain things, so she bravely put herself in situations that showed her otherwise. It helped temper that sense of perfectionism she was bringing into her brand to be able to create better. 

2. Quitting when it gets hard.

Anything worth doing is often difficult. We’re definitely not the first to say it and we won’t be the last. But as modern living provides us almost everything with so much ease, anything that requires a lot of time and effort is often shunned. Mastering a skill, learning a new language, starting a business—you don’t immediately reap the benefits or rewards for them. Oftentimes, you even have to make sacrifices.

The year when accessories maker and entrepreneur Nike Nadal-Reyes of Nyuki & Co. joined Common Room, she also just had a baby and didn’t have any help at home or for her business. “I did everything. That was the challenge for me, managing my time and balancing everything,” she recalls in her previous interview

As the demands of motherhood and Nyuki & Co. overwhelmed her, Nike decided to quit her business. It made her miserable. She learned what it was like to have something she was passionate about disappear. Eventually, she found her way back to it with more resolve to make it work. We sometimes forget that even if we’re doing something we love, we can still get burnt out. Instead of quitting, giving yourself time to pause is an option, which leads us to...

3. Not taking the time to pause and reflect.

For many of the makers we’ve interviewed, a significant growth for them happened after they took the time to pause and examine themselves, the work they do, and the why behind it. It can be because of circumstances, like the pandemic, which forced many businesses, like Gouache and Cut the Scrap, to rethink their business models and find ways to pivot. 

As an entrepreneur, you also have to pause and look closely at your business when you find yourself not hitting your goals. Kim Tiam-Lee of Pulseras by Kim looked at her poor sales from bazaars and reassessed why in this interview. She realized she had to “find her tribe,” which she saw in Common Room.

Even when you hit milestones for your small business, when you take a pause, you don’t always have to ask, “What’s next?” As Jodinand Aguillon of vintage clothing brand, Glorious Dias, observed: “We’ve been conditioned and trained to be like, ‘You’ve reached that milestone, the next one’s here.” There's a sense that the world just wants you to keep producing, churning, posting. His advice once you’ve reached a milestone, “Sit with it, appreciate it until you’re ready for the next one.”


4. Pressuring yourself to always be productive.

As you work towards your goals, it’s possible to get overly confident and fall into the hustle culture. You already know what you’re doing so go hard or go home? For makers and entrepreneurs, it’s a recipe for burnout. Even worse, you may end up questioning your goals and whether or not it’s something you still want to do. 

Marv Conti, who started Studio Habil as a side hustle in 2013 has learned through the years that he doesn’t feel the need to regularly create a new collection or products. Years have taught him to trust his gut and not succumb to the pressure of what’s expected. “Take your time and don’t pressure yourself to make a lot of items. But we also can’t be complacent," he shares in a previous interview. "I still need to push myself to become better and raise the level of Studio Habil.” 

When you break free from the pressures of always being productive, you can look at your creative process as a way to keep learning and be better. And not just to release or make an item just for the sake of it.


5. Focusing on what you don’t have.

Do you tell yourself that you can’t do certain tasks toward a dream of yours because of certain things you lack? Not enough money, not having the latest software or gadget, the absence of an MFA or MBA from a prestigious school—whatever it is, it’s an excuse. 

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, take a look at what you do have to make your goal happen. Those familiar with the story of Common Room founders Roma and Maan, know that when the sisters started their first business, Popjunklove, they didn’t have a business degree, design background, or even enough capital. They only had a lot of old toys, scrap fabrics, and P5,000 initial capital for other raw materials to make plushies, pins, brooches, and other accessories.

“Sometimes people are not doing it because they feel like, ‘I don’t have this, and I don’t have that.’ They’re focusing on the things that they don’t have, which could be true… But what we did, we focused on the things that we did have and what we did with the things we had at the time,” says Roma. Sure, it took them almost nine years and countless bazaars to be able to make enough money to pave the way for Common Room, but there wouldn’t be a Common Room if they didn’t get started with their dream because of what they didn’t have. 

You can do the same thing. Take a look at what you do have. Take a look at what you’ve been doing in the past. What less-than-ideal habits have you developed that have stopped you from reaching your goals? Leave them behind, one day at a time. Be fully aware that you already have everything you need for what you have to do today.


Words by Mabel David-Pilar 
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.