Source: Web exclusive: November 2010
Self-sabotage is something we often hear when it comes to personal improvement and wellness. The concept of sabotage is essentially the act of hindering our own progress. To put it simply, sabotage often creates the very situations we are trying to avoid. We start off with the best of intentions, yet subtly and often for reasons we don’t fully understand, we make choices and take actions that undermine our efforts.
The good news is that self-sabotage stops working the moment you become aware of what you’re doing. You don’t have to stay stuck and repeat the same patterns. Most of us are familiar with procrastination, the most common form of self-sabotage. The following are some less obvious ways in which we can undermine our efforts and therefore sabotage ourselves. If you recognize that you are doing these things, you can prepare and plan accordingly and avoid the potential to sabotage yourself in the future.
So what are some ways you may be sabotaging yourself?
1. You neglect to set up a support system
Success is rarely achieved alone. Whether it’s an athletic endeavor, personal or professional, we need the support of friends, family, mentors, coaches, teachers and teams. It’s unrealistic to think you are going to do it all on your own. You sabotage your efforts when you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to succeed by putting in place the support you need.
Whether it’s information, accountability, training, mentorship or inspiration, you need to decide ahead of time what you think you will need to accomplish your goal, and then set up that support system before you even need it. By anticipating it in advance, you will be prepared for the moment when you really need that friend, teacher, coach or mentor to be there for you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or failure, it is smart, strategic and essential.
2. You fail to celebrate the small stuff
Human beings prefer pleasure to pain. We want to feel good. Reassurance, recognition and validation give us motivation and confidence. Consider your boss for a moment. If they are always telling you how good a job you are doing, aren’t you more motivated by this type of positive feedback?
The same is true for your own internal feedback. Some goals take weeks, months or even years to achieve. If we don’t break them down into smaller accomplishments that can be celebrated along the way, we will likely lose our motivation before we get to the final goal. Celebrating your successes makes you feel better about yourself and with a positive attitude you are more likely to accomplish what you set out to do.
3. You rely on your willpower
Willpower can be a good source of motivation, but it is often short-lived. Willpower is a push energy: it is driven by force and determination, which requires effort. This can be difficult to sustain, particularly for long-term goals.
Motivation and inspiration on the other hand, come from a different place. They are a pull energy that is driven by your "Big WHY." True motivation is fueled by passion and it keeps you going through setbacks and challenges, when your willpower and energy may be low. So rather than sabotaging your efforts by relying on motivation alone, get clear on your big reasons for setting the goals you have set. Allow this big vision to pull you forward and keep you motivated and committed for the long term.
4. We focus on failures
Do you know what the main difference is between those who succeed in life and those who fail to accomplish their goals? The number of times people fail. Successful people have many more failures in their lives because it’s the risks and the failed attempts that eventually lead to the knowledge, skills and opportunities that create success.
In reality, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. We can only fail if we stop trying. When we see things as failures, we feel defeated and it affects our confidence and self esteem. The next time you experience a setback or failure, don’t allow your concept of failing to sabotage your efforts. Shift your perspective and decide to see the lessons in your experience. Lessons are positive’they provide information and the necessary feedback to improve and course-correct.
5. We fail to plan
It is often said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." The reality of our busy, hectic, multitasking lives is that if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Many times we have the best of intentions to go to the gym or eat a healthy meal, take a course or call a friend; but if we don’t actually take the time to organize and plan our schedule, some other urgent matter gets in the way.
When we fail to acknowledge that organization and planning are critical to achieving your goals, we are, in a way, sabotaging our efforts. On some level, we know there’s a good chance it won’t get done. We can easily overcome this form of self-sabotage by recognizing the need to plan ahead and making sure that our goals get into our schedules and therefore not allowing ourselves the option to fail.
Victoria Joanna Bailey is a life coach and nutritionist, committed to helping people make lasting changes that lead them on the path to health, happiness and a fulfilling life.