This article is written by Sarah Godfrey, Psychologist and Director of Moving Mindsets, part of Career Money Life’s Supplier Community. You can read the original article on Moving Mindset’s website.
Goals are what keep us going and help us take that next step into the future. We see, we judge, we measure and finally devote our time and resources to certain places we want to reach in our lifetime. In the middle of all this, has it ever felt like you aren’t able to reach your full potential? Do you feel like there is some sort of an invisible force that’s pulling you back from the things you could achieve?
The interesting thing is that this “unseen power” isn’t something out of this world or fate, as some would call it, but rather limitations constructed within your own mind that you need to break free of!
Read more on the pitfalls and problems that turn high motivation and goal setting into apathy and failure, click here.
Let us go through some of the most evident self-sabotaging disasters:
Don’t beat yourself up over something – Mistakes are a human eventuality. Nobody is perfect and there will always be something that will not go the way we planned. Be mindful of your self-talk when things don’t go as planned or as easily as you would’ve liked. Are you someone who will encourage yourself to press on, or the one who will indulge in negative self-diminishing chatter? The latter does nothing except make us subconsciously believe that we are not up to the task and our best efforts never amount to anything. Instead, tell yourself that it’s a learning process and that good things come to those who wait, learn and persevere.
Beware of a monotonous existence – When you set a goal that will extend over a long period of time, you can become complacent and unmotivated. If your goal is to become a millionaire and you own a bakery, you need to expand your business. This is a long-term goal, requiring risk, adaptability and action. It may take many years to achieve your goal plan (set up a chain under your brand name). Ambition can take time and monotony can be a dampener on ambition. Use your journals, support team, vision boards to snap you out of a monotonous mind. If you restrict yourself within a one-dimensional action plan, your chances of real success can be hindered. If your life drifts from one same day to the next, get your goal on and do something about it.
Drawing useless attention to yourself – If you can’t reach that milestone that you had on your list of resolutions, don’t create a fuss over it. Gossip doesn’t serve any purpose towards the betterment of your circumstance except creating a lot of noise. Remember, people who talk about their shortcomings achieve nothing but informing others of their weaknesses. Negative gossip is simply unnecessary drama and a distraction from dealing with the achievement of your goal.
Suppressing your emotions won’t help – If you have strong feelings about something, acknowledge the emotions. This doesn’t mean that you should go to the middle of a road and shout your heart out. Take some time off for yourself, think deeply about the things that have affected you over the past few days or weeks. Download and debrief. Acknowledge your achievements and accept things for as they are. This is a great way to feel free and clear-headed about what you need to do.
Remember that everyone has unique gifts – Comparison is pointless when reaching your own goals. Others will achieve in their own way and in their own time. They are not you, so stop looking over your shoulder at what everyone is doing. Don’t be swayed with what you see others are doing but concentrate on what you can do. You are a unique individual and there is no other on this planet like you, so focus on your own plan, strategy, steps and success.
Make it a habit to follow through – Keep your promises and don’t back out when someone has already invested time and money or both in you. If you don’t want to be confined by people’s judgments or by your own lack of initiative, then do not make commitments you can’t keep. Get things done no matter what or have a genuine reason for any delay. Demonstrate integrity and honesty to yourself and those who are helping you towards success.
Perfection is a myth – There is no ‘perfect’ way of doing things and perfect leads to a boring and uninteresting life. Life is a rollercoaster so strap on and enjoy the ride, the ups and downs are what gives life adrenaline. Effort is what pushes you ahead and towards your goals. Not the need to do everything perfect.
Now that we have a pretty clear idea of what self-sabotaging is all about, it is time to look at the solutions.
Procrastinating? Try setting a timer and dedicate 15/20 minutes of your time on doing something that you have been putting off for a while. Start small, and when those 15 minutes are over, you will keep going. As they say, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.
Find your barriers. Locate and give time to finding out potential barriers. These can be work, relationships, social media, money, access or emotional and psychological barriers. List what might prevent you from reaching your goal? Money? Resources. Self-belief? Then seek support to overcome these barriers.
Define habits. List 2 or 3 habits that prevent you from reaching your goal (things you know you do or have done in the past to lose focus on reaching your goal). Examples are people, places, jobs, thinking patterns.
Rate how well you think your habits are in areas of
- staying motivated,
- being mindful of and avoiding procrastination
- Keeping your focus and managing life’s distractions
- Doing the hard work (do you tend to give in or do you have endurance?)
- Believing in what you want and knowing you can be decisive.
- Persistence and endurance in spite of life’s obstacles.
- Adaptation and flexibility with change. Because after all, goals are about change.
SMART your sabotage. Use the SMART goal strategy to stop one of these bad habits. Be compassionate and positive about yourself when you do this. Just as you can use this strategy to start a goal so can it be applied to getting rid of bad habits, because that in itself is a goal!
Identification –Identify certain “trigger actions” that precipitate self-sabotaging actions. Once you know these, you can take care not to repeat them next time around.
Recognise and monitor the pattern – Don’t pretend you don’t have maladaptive behaviors that sabotage your success. Monitor yourself, be aware and tell your goal team what to look out for. Keep away from falling into such ‘traps’ in the future and be mindful of how you go about your plans.
Decide upon and practice a different pattern – Once you have found out the pattern that had prevented you succeeding in the past work on forming new habits. Make plans and determine what the best success practices are and keep implementing them until they become habits.
Learn from your experience – Experience is the key to finding your way through the maze of bad habits. When you fail at something, the positive bit is that now you know what not to do. Don’t sabotage yourself twice!
Ask for advice – There is no shame in being assisted by others, especially those who have a better grasp of something than you. When you get some genuinely effective pointers at what you are supposed to do from reputable individuals, it increases your chances of success. Your goals are more within your grasp when you reach out and get help.
Preplan for contingencies – The best way to tackle uncertainty is to plan ahead. Anticipate the hurdles and always keep contingencies in place to effectively deal with an unwanted development.
Don’t be afraid of risks – Risks are what differentiates between the successful and the mundane. To reach your goals, you need to stand out with your actions and that requires risk-taking. Don’t be afraid and push through with educated risks. You are doing something that hasn’t been tried before, making your efforts a novelty.
The road to your goals is full of hurdles and difficulties. It would probably help not to add to the burden with self-sabotage. Before you set off, find out every angle to the scenario, the things you should and shouldn’t do, so that come what may, you don’t stand in your own way. Pave your own way and do it with smart decisions and goal-oriented actions with the above techniques in mind!