Building success requires hard work, determination and a strategic mindset that allows you to think fast and act even faster.
Despite this, even the most talented and driven individuals can fall victim to self-sabotage, something that often occurs subconsciously and manifests itself in various behavioral patterns.
These patterns limit our productivity, may damage our reputation and stop us from achieving the lofty goals we set for ourselves. The good news is that we can explore and address our behavior and develop methods to overcome self-sabotage.
If you see yourself as someone with ambition and leadership qualities, then it can be a decisive juncture in life to overcome self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage is a trait that is exhibited differently by everyone. It can be displayed as procrastination, fear of failure, imposter syndrome and other self-destructive behaviors, all caused by our own self-limiting beliefs. In business performance, this can lead to missed opportunities and poor decision-making, holding us back from our true potential.
Recognize your self-sabotaging behaviors
The first step in overcoming self-sabotage is to become conscious of when you’re engaging in behavioral patterns that are not serving you and are detrimental to your wellbeing. Take the time to reflect on your actions and thought patterns and consider the situations that trigger these behaviors.
For instance, if you find yourself procrastinating on important tasks, ask yourself why. Are you overwhelmed by the task? Are you afraid of failure? Are you lacking motivation or energy? Once you identify the underlying causes, only then can you take steps to address them.
Challenge your self-limiting beliefs
Negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs are often the root causes of self-sabotage behavioral patterns. This is when we stop challenging ourselves due to our thoughts telling us that we’re undeserving of success, not good enough and that failure is inevitable.
These beliefs can be deeply ingrained in our subconscious from past experiences and can hold us back from ever achieving our true potential, or if we do come close to or achieve one of our goals, we somehow manage to self-sabotage our wins.
It takes practice and a process to acknowledge that your self-limiting thoughts are a mere construction, a fiction in your own mind.
One client of mine spent a full five days stuck in a loop, telling herself that she was hopeless, not good enough for her job and that she was going to be found out. She was crying herself to sleep and waking up miserable, yet these thoughts were based on no real evidence. I worked with her on emotional management in order to help her escape this negative story she was perpetuating.
It takes practice and a process to acknowledge that your self-limiting thoughts are a mere construction, a fiction in your own mind. To overcome this self-limiting behavior, you need to start questioning and challenging these beliefs.
Begin to reflect and ask yourself if these beliefs are based on reality or if they are just stories that you’re telling yourself. What evidence do you have to support them, and what assumptions have you made based on these beliefs?
Consider the evidence that contradicts these beliefs. Remind yourself of the projects you have managed, the wins you have had and the positive feedback you’ve received from colleagues and superiors. You have made it to where you are through determination and hard work.
Set the right goals and expectations
Setting challenging goals that align with your values and priorities and drive your processes on a day-to-day basis is empowering.
So, too, is understanding that to achieve these goals, it will require us to learn new things, which make the inevitable obstacles and setbacks easier to deal with and prevent us from regressing to self-destructive thoughts.
Additionally, emotional management and managing our own expectations is critical in this process. Expect setbacks and failures, and recognize that they are necessary. Rather than striving for perfection, focus on progress and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Be pragmatic about what you can accomplish in a given timeframe and enjoy the bumpy road that is the pathway to success.
Self-sabotage is exacerbated by stress, burnout and a lack of self-care.
As leaders, we need to prioritize our own mental and physical health. There are plenty of self-created barriers to implementing daily exercise, healthy eating and regular sleep schedules into our routine. Realizing that these are the basic requirements for our mind and body to function is the first step toward making it happen consistently.
Mindfulness and meditation are often echoed as the best practices to reduce stress and, in this case, it is about continual practice. With frequent reflection, the clarity of your thoughts improves and the gratitude you have for your opportunities and the people around you increases.
Take breaks throughout the day to recharge and reset. The quality of everything you do will improve from it.
Take breaks throughout the day to recharge and reset. The quality of everything you do will improve from it. Do not underestimate the power of resting and doing nothing. It helps your mind slow down, let go and allow space for ‘flow’.
If you are struggling, seek support – whether it’s through therapy, coaching or mentorship. A support system can help you navigate challenges and overcome negative behavior.
Cultivate a growth mindset
The belief that every experience is an opportunity for growth is called a growth mindset.
It plays a decisive role in creating continual improvement in not only business performance, but all aspects of life. Adapting a growth mindset allows you to reframe your perception of tough times and visualize them as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Promote a culture of experimentation and innovation within yourself and within others and you will encourage a growth mindset. Taking risks and experiencing failure is just as much part of the journey as succeeding. Adopting this mindset takes time, but it starts with learning to accept that stumbling blocks are a part of the process.
Surround yourself with positivity
Environmental factors play a huge role in our behavior and mindset, and this extends to the people you spend time with.
If you are able to surround yourself with positive, supportive people who uplift and encourage you, you are setting yourself up for success.
Don’t underestimate the power of mentorship, regardless of whether you are the mentor or mentee.
Don’t underestimate the power of mentorship, regardless of whether you are the mentor or mentee. Learning from a mentor provides you with a refreshed perspective and a refined focus on what is truly important, as well as imparting knowledge to others.
Avoiding negative influences that bring you down or trigger self-sabotage behaviors is critical. Toxic relationships, environments and thought patterns are instances of this. Let positive relationships and environments survive and flourish, and don’t be afraid to cut ties with elements of your life that bring you down and harm your mindset.
Hold yourself accountable
Maintaining success long-term and avoiding self-destructive behavior is helped by holding yourself accountable.
High-pressure environments often require a commitment to multiple projects and ownership of the ups and downs along the way. Create a system of accountability by choosing an accountability partner. This may be a mentor, coach or friend that will hold you to the goals you set yourself.
Have clearly defined goals that create images on the screen of your mind, allowing you to get emotionally involved and focus on what you can do every day, week or month to move the needle a bit further along. Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your course as needed.
Holding yourself accountable extends to working out your goal for a task, breaking it down to its lowest common denominator and getting it done.
Self-sabotage holds us back from achieving the things we are capable of in both our personal and professional lives. Procrastination is one of the most common ways I see self-sabotage show up in my clients – delaying important tasks as long as possible and then feeling overwhelmed when the deadline finally approaches.
Holding yourself accountable extends to working out your goal for a task, breaking it down to its lowest common denominator and getting it done. Limit the non-productive activities and start making it easier for yourself.
By recognizing your sabotaging tendencies, challenging your limiting beliefs, setting goals and expectations, practicing self-care, embracing a growth mindset, surrounding yourself with positivity and holding yourself accountable, you can conquer self-sabotage and ultimately become the best version of yourself.
Reem Borrows has worked in senior leadership roles, leading and developing effective teams and individuals across the areas of sales, marketing and training. Today, Borrows uses her knowledge and expertise through Dreem Coaching & Consulting to help people realize their full potential in both their business and personal goals, with balance, focus and flow.