Kick Self-Sabotaging Habits to the Curb

Posted by [email protected] on Jan. 9, 2020  /  Career Growth, On The Job, Management/Leadership  /   0

As type-A personalities and successful managers of “all-the-things,” one would think we are experts at setting goals and immediately crushing them, right?!  Sadly, for a large portion of professionals in the workforce, we do just the opposite. We set goals and then stand in the way of accomplishing them. Even high-achieving go-getters can write down a list of things they want or need to accomplish and then immediately go do something else, like check Instagram or clean out that junk drawer.

The IQ Matrix blog says self-sabotage is always lurking around because of a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and self-belief. There are many reasons we self-sabotage and for some, it would be helpful to understand what is getting in your way. Causes can run the gamut of fear, feeling overwhelmed, or even the need to control outcomes.  Psychology Today has a helpful article on self-sabotaging triggers for those that want to understand it more.

So, with a new year and a new decade ahead, I thought it would be fun to examine (and then kick-to-the-curb) some of the bad habits that block our success.


Often it is the fear of failure that promotes procrastination. If a person puts something off long enough, they can never fail at it. But, putting things off comes with increased feelings of negativity. It also makes it harder on the person to finally get started and in many cases hinders the overall outcome of the project, deadline, goal or initiative. There is a famous book, Eat That Frog, that shares the concept of doing the most uncomfortable or unpleasant thing first each day and gives 21 tools for fighting procrastination.

Comforting Ourselves

We’ve all heard of emotional eating as a way to deal with difficult situations. The same goes for challenging times at work or when facing big, audacious goals. It is easy to sidestep the hard work with a quick trip to the vending machine or an impromptu getaway lunch with coworkers. To avoid the hard stuff, some actually turn to the hard stuff and dip out for 5 o’clock happy hours instead of working a little late to achieve their goals. Pay attention to the things you are doing to keep yourself in your comfort zone. Set timed schedules where you stay away from these comforts or ask an accountability partner to help you be mindful.

Limiting Beliefs

The worst thing about limiting beliefs is we give them a voice and often that voice becomes louder than the one that cheers us on. Negative self-talk and limiting beliefs can become the strongest cause of self-sabotage. Studies show some of these limiting beliefs go back to negative subconscious memories from our past and is our brain’s way of keeping us safe and from trying new things. It can be a viscous cycle, especially if the limiting beliefs hold you back from things that can be good for your growth and well-being. If you are someone with a pattern of negative self-talk, this short video on improving your self-image might help.

Social Media and Email Interruptions

We all know that the world of technology is the largest productivity disruptor. Everyone has lost entire workdays to an unruly inbox of emails. While it is an unnecessary evil, many professionals use it as an excuse from ever starting the big things that matter more. An important thing to remember is that email, text interruptions and social media breaks not only steal your time but zap your brain capacity too. Statistics show it takes 64 seconds to get back on task and a study done by SaneBox shows that more than 75% of messaging to our brains is unimportant and irrelevant. Creating a habit of more focus on the non-tech things can take concerted efforts. Try setting a time of day, even if only an hour where you log out of email and silence your phone. Remember that most people do their best work in the morning. Try utilizing those hours to take your longest tech breaks. We found this PC Magazine article that lists 8 easy ways to control smart phone and social media dependency.

Need for Perfectionism

There is a saying in the writing world that prompts authors to “just write.” To get the words out on paper – unfiltered and unedited. The advice states that a finished page is better than a single perfect sentence. And the same goes for big projects and life goals. Often the desire to be perfect keeps a person from ever attempting anything at all. Those that struggle with perfectionism should write out processes to get where they want to go - and focus less on the outcome they hope to achieve. Another practical way to get beyond this is to break the goal down into bite-sized tasks. If you feel paralyzed by the need to be perfect, start with the easiest, smallest task and knock it out. If something on your to do list can later be refined, then quickly attack it next. Once a perfectionist has started, they often won’t stop mid-project.

If you have lofty goals for the new year or decade, success is most likely in your reach with a few meaningful productivity tweaks that includes winning the self-sabotage game once and for all. Remember, as humans get closer to the important things that they desire, it is common to feel uncomfortable. This coaching article shares five proven tips for staying focused on goals. In the words of Hunter Post, “The biggest thing almost always holding you back is…you. Start there!”

About the Author: Jo D. Miller serves as the IREM Houston Executive Director. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Advertising from Texas State University and has 25 years of experience managing associations.

Return to list



    Leave a Comment