Eugene Plotkin’s 5 Negative Patterns To Avoid in Life

When Bing Crosby sang the Great American Songbook classic by Johnny Mercer, “You’ve got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive / e-lim-in-ate the negative / latch on to the affirmative / don’t mess with Mr. In-Between,” he was really on to something. 

All these years later, successful financier and investment banker Eugene Plotkin declares that getting ahead in life isn’t just about putting your nose to the grindstone — you’ve got to get rid of negative patterns that hold you back.

“It’s a sad fact of life that hard work is almost always a key part of success, but success is often not the result of hard work,” Plotkin, the CEO of TechWallet, admits. “I have seen many people work extremely hard but never get beyond living paycheck to paycheck. It’s heartbreaking, but the good news is that this situation can often be fixed by eliminating certain negative patterns.”

Eugene Plotkin’s Negative Pattern No. 1

Recent studies indicate that more than 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This means that more than 150 million adults in the United States have little to no savings and would be devastated by a loss of income.

“We live in a consumer society,” Plotkin says. “As hard as we work to earn money, we often spend it far too easily. Marketing and advertising are more effective than ever. Companies have perfected the art of capturing your attention and your wallet. At the same time, banks and credit card companies make it way too easy to buy now and pay later. If you spend most of what you make, you will never be able to retire or even have a financial buffer. So, the first negative pattern to address is overconsumption.”

Eugene Plotkin’s Negative Pattern No. 2

Author Robert Greene stated: “It is, in fact, the height of selfishness to merely consume what others create and to retreat into a shell of limited goals and immediate pleasures.” Plotkin concurs. The CEO’s point is that overconsumption is often directly linked to underperformance.

“We are creatures of habit. We prefer the comfort of the known rut to the discomfort of the unknown highway,” Plotkin explains. “I have seen so many examples of people doing things inefficiently simply because they never took the opportunity to step back and reevaluate the bigger picture.

“During my days as an investment banker, I remember that there was a certain financial analysis that required a week of work, but when I looked at it I realized that most of the steps in the analysis that were being done manually could actually be automated. So I took a few weekends to build a program that would run the calculations automatically. Suddenly, an analysis that used to take a week of my time now took less than a day. That’s what I call working smarter rather than harder. That’s the second negative pattern to address: doing things the same old way.”

Eugene Plotkin’s Negative Pattern No. 3

According to a 2014 study by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology that appeared in Science Daily, more than 40% of what people do every day is the result of ingrained habits. Part of the reason is that it takes more than two months, on average, to change or break a habit.

“Just as we love habits, we hate pain,” Plotkin notes. “That is why we are always looking for that next fix, whether it’s our favorite television show, or our favorite sugar craving, or our favorite social media app. It used to be that getting rewards required a lot of personal discipline, but now it’s a click away. Even people who work hard at their jobs are forgetting how to work hard in their personal lives. So, their health goes, their ambition goes, their perseverance goes. That’s the third negative pattern: the lack of commitment to self-improvement.”

Eugene Plotkin’s Negative Habit No. 4

Plotkin points to the obesity epidemic in the United States, with more than 40% of adults suffering from some level of being overweight. Studies have shown that while obese individuals can be hard workers in their day jobs, they can struggle to apply that same work ethic to their health.

“I had my own struggles with weight when I was a young professional, and it was hard,” Plotkin admits. “Especially since food companies and restaurants make it so easy to overindulge. But at some point, I just realized that I could either blame ‘Big Food,’ or I could start taking responsibility for my own choices. I had to take ownership of what I did with my body, good or bad. And that’s the fourth negative pattern: blaming others. The blame game is easy, but it won’t ever get you to where you want to go.” 

Psychologists often talk about the “blame cycle,” which is a pattern where blaming is used as a self-protection mechanism. This pattern is recognized as being highly destructive to both the individual engaging in blaming and to those around them.

Eugene Plotkin’s Negative Habit No. 5

Plotkin shares that he’s had to conquer these forces of negativity — and if he did, you could, too.

“When I stopped blaming others and started owning my actions, that was a turning point in my life,” he says. “But it wasn’t enough. There were still days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone go to the gym. There were days when I didn’t want to do anything but watch television after a 12-hour work day, let alone spend another two hours working on my startup idea. There were days where I had to choose between a tedious book on derivatives and an exciting trip to Atlantic City. In each case, making the right choice required willpower. That’s the fifth and final negative pattern I want to talk about: the lack of willpower, the lack of discipline.

“It’s all about the mind,” Plotkin concludes. “You have to work your mind like a muscle. You have to exercise it every day by doing the thing that matters long term rather than the thing that gives you a mini-fix short term. There is a reason the word ‘success’ starts with ‘suck’ — you have to embrace the suck in order to reach ultimate success.”