Career Advice

3 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

posted on February 27, 2018 | by Sam Brown

3 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

No matter how many motivational blog posts you read or planners you fill out, you’ll never achieve your goals if you’re unwittingly sabotaging your own success.

Self-sabotage is any action (or inaction) that contradicts your goals. Like eating a donut while you’re dieting. But it’s not always that easy to identify, so in this blog post, I’m sharing three signs you’re sabotaging your own success and how to pull yourself out of it – stat. I hope you find it helpful!

1. You wait until the ‘perfect’ time to start

One sign you might be sabotaging your success is that you tell yourself that you need to wait until the ‘perfect’ time to start. And this is a funny one, because waiting until the perfect time feels like the opposite of self-sabotage. It feels like the best way to set yourself up for success.

So why is this self-sabotage? Because there is no perfect time. Waiting until the perfect time to start is just a feel-good excuse to procrastinate forever.

Action: If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to start a blog, travel or look for a new job – don’t keep procrastinating. Do it now.

2. You shrink your world

Another sign you might be sabotaging your own success is that you shrink your world so that you only do things you’re good at, things you can get good at quickly and things that it’s socially acceptable to be ‘bad’ at (like dieting).

By shrinking your world, you can feel successful without having to leave your comfort zone and risk rejection. The problem is that while it feels safe and you might have some degree of success, it’s not satisfying because deep down you know you’re playing small. By shrinking your world, you forgo opportunities to be challenged, to learn, to grow and to have a bigger impact on the world. You forgo the opportunity to truly be successful.

Action: If you’re guilty of shrinking your world, force yourself to try something beyond your comfort zone. Something you might fail at.

3. You keep yourself overwhelmed

The third sign you might be sabotaging your own success is that you keep yourself in a constant state of overwhelm. And this is a tricky one because it probably seems like overwhelm is happening to you and is beyond your control.

But overwhelm doesn’t come from what’s happening around you, it comes from what you’re thinking. This is why two people with the same workload can have completely different approaches – one calm and organized, the other stressed and overwhelmed.

I’ve personally found that whenever I try to take things to the next level in my business, overwhelm starts to creep in. And it’s not because things have changed, but because being disorganized in my thinking gives me an excuse to stay where I’m comfortable. If I’m overwhelmed, I can’t do the big scary things I’m planning. And not only do I get to avoid all of those things, but I get to feel productive. Because overwhelm feels important.

Action: If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, work from your to-do list instead of your calendar. It’s much harder to be overwhelmed if you’re working from your calendar than a never ending to-do list. You might also find it helpful to listen to the podcast episode I recorded on how to stop overwhelm and achieve multiple goals.

Bonus: You stay up late

As a bonus, I just want to share one more sign you might be sabotaging your own success – you stay up late. And this is the sneakiest of all. Let me explain how by sharing what I used to do!

I used to have a real all-or-nothing mindset, which meant that even though I really wanted to feel motivated, productive and organized, I was also scared of failing, scared of disapproval and scared of letting myself down. So instead of giving myself the best shot at waking up early by going to bed on time, I used to fluff around and stay up late. This meant I was always too tired to wake up early, which was the perfect cover story!

The truth was, I was actually just (1) scared I wouldn’t be able to wake up early (and didn’t want to feel like a failure) and (2) scared I would be able to wake up early but my life still wouldn’t get any better. Essentially, by staying up late, I could ‘protect’ myself from failing (even though it meant failing by default). It’s super sneaky but it’s extremely common among perfectionists, so I just wanted to mention that in case the fear of wasted effort has been stopping you from even trying.

Have you been sabotaging your own success? Let me know in the comments below.

And just so you know, I share more blog posts like this on my blog Smart Twenties.