Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Self-sabotage is how we hurt ourselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, and keep ourselves from achieving our plans, goals, and dreams. Many, if not all of us, have sabotaged ourselves in one way or another. But the good news is, we can overcome sabotaging behaviors, it just takes self-awareness and effort.

There are five common self-sabotaging behaviors that we need to be on the lookout for.

Negative self talk
When you make a mistake or fail at something, what does your self-talk sound like in your head? Do you build yourself up or do you tear yourself down. A lot of us struggle with negative self-talk, the voice in your head that says “you’re dumb, how could you do that” or “you will never be able to figure this out”. It is easy to default to this kind of talk, but if you don’t work to overcome this it can hold you back and keep you from success. No one is going to be your #1 cheerleader in life but you.

If you struggle with this it is important to be aware of it and every time you realize you are thinking something negative, change it and be positive. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people. What are the people around you saying about you? Do they encourage you and support you and build you up? Or are they always negative and pessimistic? Another thing to be aware of is how you spend your free time. If you are spending hours on social media comparing yourself to others, you may want to redirect your focus to something like reading a book or meditating or going for a walk.

You have to be as loving to yourself as you are to the people in your life that you love and care about. How do you talk to your kids, or your spouse, or your best friend?

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be positive, happy, and full of joy 100% of the time. There are times when we all feel down or upset about something, but it is crucial that we pay attention to how we are talking to ourselves.

Another big self-sabotaging behavior is procrastination. You cannot produce great work if you always wait until the last minute to get things done. Waiting until the last minute also causes you to have unnecessary stress and anxiety. A lot of times we tend to start our days getting the easiest things done first and we put off the more difficult projects. But actually it should be the other way around.

Use the beginning of your day to attack the hard things so that in the afternoon, when most of us tend to crash, you only have easy things left to accomplish.

It’s always difficult to get started on something, and a lot of times we let anxiety paralyze us. But if you feel stuck the best thing to do is just take action. Take the first step in completing the task.

Lashing Out
There are times at work or in your personal life when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious, tired, etc...and as a result, we lash out at the people around us. I’m sure many of us have experienced this at one point or another over this past year as we have had to work and live at home with our immediate family 24/7 throughout the pandemic.

But reacting to people out of anger, whether it’s a co-worker, a boss, or a family member, usually does not end well. And both sides end up hurt and feeling bad. So it is important that we all figure out how to overcome this self-sabotaging behavior. In order to conquer this behavior, it is crucial for us to be in a good place emotionally, mentally, and physically. That means that we need to be getting enough sleep, taking care of our bodies, eating properly and that we have methods to turn to when we get overwhelmed.

What works best for you when you are stressed out? Maybe you like to take a walk, or meditate, or talk to a friend, or have some alone time. Whatever it is you need to do to feel more in control, make sure you do that when you feel yourself getting to your breaking point.

Some people may view perfectionism as a good thing, but for most people trying to have everything perfect all the time can be debilitating. It can stop you from taking action and it can really hold you back from moving up in your career.

It is not possible to have things perfect 100% of the time, we are all human and we have faults. If you don’t allow your work to be submitted until it’s perfect it may never see the light of day. It could cause you to miss deadlines, it can frustrate the rest of your team, and it can take up time that you could be spending on other things.

We all want to strive for excellence, but we can’t become obsessed with being perfect. Not only is it impossible, but it makes you less likeable to the people around you. People want to know you are human, that you’re real and down to earth. Mistakes are a part of life, so don’t be terrified of them.

Not Standing Up For Yourself
There are going to be times in your career when you will need to stand up for yourself. This doesn’t mean you need to get up in people’s faces and cause a big scene. But if someone is criticizing you and making it personal, or if a client is trying to get your rate down to something unreasonable, or you help a coworker out once and then they try to take advantage of your kindness--in these moments you need to stand up for yourself.

Business is about relationships, it's about human beings. Most people at your organization are not purposefully trying to hurt you or take advantage of you, but it’s okay to speak up and let them know how what they are doing is making you feel.

You also shouldn’t feel bad setting boundaries at work. Whether you can’t attend meetings before 9am or you need to pick up your kids at 4pm--whatever it is speak up and let people know.

The key to standing up for yourself is doing it in an artful way and not making it a big argument. Make sure you are being empathetic and you understand where the other person is coming from. And always approach people in a kind, yet firm way.

Strategies you can use to overcome self sabotaging behaviors
Dr. Alice Boyes, the author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit, wrote an article for The Greater Good Magazine on seven strategies and tips for how you can overcome self-sabotaging behaviors. They are:

  • Know your typical thinking patterns and factor that into your judgment-- For example, if you default to a negative mindset when things happen, take a step back and realize that your default may not be reality
  • Prioritize one-time behaviors that reduce your stress over time--Be consistent in the tactics you use to reduce stress. Don’t just eat healthy for 24 hours or workout once a month.
  • Use heuristics--Have shortcuts in place to help you make decisions quickly
  • Learn to Love Incremental Improvements--You don’t have to completely change overnight, appreciate small gains and improvements.
  • Strategize to Overcome Procrastination--Create processes for yourself so that you don’t avoid things or hide from them.
  • Understanding Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions--Pay attention to the decisions you make, even if they seem small and unimportant. Every decision has an impact on you and the people around you.
  • Practice Acceptance and Self Care--It is important to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Find things that help you in each area, and don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself