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Five ways to stop self-sabotaging your success

 Ways to stop self-sabotaging your success (Photo: iStock)

When you constantly listen to that inner voice that seems to hold you back or hold on to habits that keep you away from what you desire most in life, you are simply undermining your way to success. Self-sabotage is in itself some weird sort of defense mechanism for overthinking all of your self-improvement decisions.

It is your subconscious trying to take cover, protect you, prevent pain, and tackle fear. The sad thing about this defense mechanism is that you end up hesitant about taking chances. You become paralysed with inaction.

Seizing opportunities becomes something new to you. You pass tantalising opportunities that involve stepping a little bit out of your comfort zone over to more enthusiastic colleagues. By the time you are retiring, you realise that you had foregone so many opportunities and you did not achieve your goals and dreams.

It all goes back to self-limiting behaviour. Most of the time, these behaviours develop over time without you noticing. They become part of your regular habits and character. You may want something, but somehow you never get to accomplish it.

You are fighting with your own self and succeeding at undermining your success. Here are a few steps that you need to take to stop self-sabotaging your success.

Recognise the self-destructive habits

Try to wear an outsider hat and examine your behaviour and identify the habits that keep holding you back. Here are a few pointers.

Waiting for the "perfect time"

You keep telling yourself that it's not yet the "right time" for you to act. You are just being really unfair to yourself by imposing impossible standards that keep you from moving forward. Of course, you may need a certain skill set for you to go ahead and venture into a new challenge in your career. Waiting for you to perfect your skills before moving forward may not be of much help. You perfect skills when you put them into practice.


Most of us are guilty of procrastination at some point in our careers. Instead of handling tasks in a timely manner, we allow numerous distractions that end up derailing us from the intended goal. The mini deadlines and the last-minute rush don't give you enough time to fix any errors. You end up delivering substandard work. Soon enough, you'll tell yourself that you work best under pressure; and when you fail to achieve your goal, you blame it on unreasonable deadlines. If deadlines are a problem, let the blame be on strict systems, but not the lack of effort.

Negative thinking

Constantly putting yourself down because of past mistakes will do you more harm than good. Take past mistakes as lessons and not a justification to tag yourself as a loser. Eventually, you will become what you profess. Later on, you will develop bitterness and a crab mentality and drag everyone around you down with you. To avoid this, start by being kind to yourself. Learn from past failures and move on. Where you need to put a little bit more effort, do it patiently and build yourself up.

Do not put too much focus on seeking approval

There are times when it is wise to get other people's opinions, especially on important work decisions. However, you do not need constant accolades to thrive in your role. Otherwise, you will become a slave to what other people think. Be your own person, with your own failures and successes. Learn to stand on your own two feet and not be afraid of being accountable for your actions.

Believe in yourself

If your goal is to succeed in your career, you have to let go of self-doubt. When you constantly question if your dreams are attainable, you are letting your pessimistic feelings hold you back. Visualise your success and believe that what you really desire is achievable. Avoid stagnation by turning your plans into action. Do not be afraid of taking the next step. Put your best foot forward and go for it.

Take radical leaps out of your comfort zone

Taking risks is scary -- you are basically opening an opportunity for failure. But you will never know what you are capable of until you try. Borrow a leaf from renowned business leaders and trendsetters. Their success stories were not all rosy of course, all of them failed at one point, but they still made it. Do not let the failure consume you. Assess what went wrong and make better decisions next time. After all, great risks come with great rewards. Keep in mind that there will come a time when you may have to walk away from a deal to which you are financially or emotionally connected. Know when to let go when you have poured resources and a myriad of strategies onto a non-rewarding venture. Walking away is a risk on its own, but it will open up new opportunities and refocus your energy.

Take care of money matters

A budget keeps you on track with how to spend your money with regard to your income. It is the key to your future financial success. Careless spending is self-destructive and can easily throw you off balance financially and create money anxieties.

Ignoring those small costs can lead to the accumulation of huge bills that will prove difficult to handle. In the end, you may end up unable to make the life-changing investments you had envisioned. Avoid random impulsive shopping, pay bills on time no matter how small some may be, live within your means, and invest wisely.

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