Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to your career? Perhaps unhealthy thought patterns or destructive work habits are interfering with your professional development. Self-sabotage occurs when that critical inner voice holds you back from achieving greatness. By following these do's and don'ts, you will finally be able to stop sabotaging and start succeeding.
Don’t let fear get in the way
- Fear of failure: You fall into your comfort zone, and it's gotten to the point where you can do your job in your sleep. Then you have the opportunity to take on a completely new and exciting project, but fear of failure creeps in.
- Fear of success: It sounds strange, but many people are afraid of succeeding. It's because once you finally get what you think you want, you realize it's more than you bargained for. With success comes expectation and responsibility. It can be unsettling if you don’t know how to handle it.
- Fear of loss of control: Our need to be in control at all times can be limiting. It might turn you into a micromanager who is burned out because you just can’t seem to delegate work. Ultimately, you are holding yourself back from reaching that next level in your career.
Don’t avoid going outside your comfort zone
You've outgrown your position, yet moving from familiar territory to a different company seems daunting. You wonder, "What if I don't like it as much?" or "What if I end up with a manager who is a tyrant?" You're in a seemingly "safe" place, but the growth happens outside your comfort zone. The first step is to acknowledge that you want to make a move but are afraid of change. Here's a secret many people don't know, fear and action can’t coexist. So, staearsrt taking small steps in the direction of your goal. Talk to as many people as you can before jumping into that new role. Learn about the good, the bad and the ugly. Make sure it’s the right fit and then take the plunge. If you feel you still need help combating those self-sabotaging behaviors, you may even consider working with a career coach or mentor to get you across the finish line.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Do you find yourself comparing your career to that of friends and colleagues? Maybe you and your best friend went to the same law school, but your friend has already made partner, and you haven't. When you learned about it, it may have felt like a punch in the stomach. But career progression is different for everyone because we are all unique individuals. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were the day before. By comparing yourself to others, you are not only sabotaging your career, you are eroding your self-confidence and creating unnecessary anxiety. If you do this consistently, it can be paralyzing. Instead of using that energy to feel resentful, use it to motivate you. Invite that person you've been admiring to be your mentor. Learn their secrets to success. This is also a good time to take inventory of all the things you’re grateful for. It’s almost impossible to feel envy and gratitude at the same time.
Do focus on your strengths
Often we don’t see ourselves for who we really are. We attribute accomplishments to luck or simply being at the right place at the right time. Make a list of all your biggest accomplishments—the ones you are most proud of. Then post it somewhere you can see it every day. Dig up any positive performance reviews, thank you notes or emails from clients and put them in a "kudos" file. That way, when you're having a bad day, you can refer to them to boost your confidence. (I have one that I call my “inspiration” file).
Do recognize self-sabotaging behavior
The first step to break the cycle is to become aware of habits that are holding you back. What self-destructive mindsets are interfering with your ability to develop professionally? Here are a few typical self-sabotaging behaviors to be mindful of:
- Perfectionism: You tell yourself you can’t act right now or believe you need to perfect your skills before moving forward. Perfection is an impossible standard that keeps you from advancing.
- Procrastination: Instead of tackling an important project right away, you wait until the last minute. Start setting hard deadlines to hold yourself accountable.
- Negative self-talk: Your inner dialogue is consistently critical. Are you punishing yourself for past mistakes? Be patient, and make an effort to build your self-esteem rather than tear it down.
Do be open to feedback
Knowing ourselves and being open to feedback is essential to career advancement. That way, you'll be able to pinpoint the areas where you are excelling and need improvement. Don’t wait for others to provide input regarding your performance. Make it a point of regularly soliciting advice from managers, friends and co-workers. By being proactive and having an open mind, you will be able to use that information as a learning tool to propel you to the next level.
You are worthy of wanting more and having more. The world will put endless obstacles in your path, but none will be as big as the ones you create for yourself. Isn't it time to get out of your own way and embrace the possibilities?