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5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

Do you ever feel frustrated because you have an awful lot of ambition, but no tangible results to show for it? If so, then you are probably sabotaging your success without even realizing it. Read on to discover how self-sabotage happens and why your gut instincts cannot be trusted.

1. You put short-term desires before long-term success.

“Woo-hoo, I exercised today! I deserve a cookie.”

“I actually managed to save a few hundred dollars! Time to buy a new wardrobe.”

These quotes demonstrate a common form of self-sabotage, which is “treating yourself” with rewards that are in direct conflict with the long-term value you are trying to put into practice. A person who values their health wouldn’t use exercise as an excuse to eat junk. A person who wants to become wealthy wouldn’t splurge on unnecessary wants as soon as they manage to save a bit of money. Rewards are a good way to stay encouraged, but those rewards should not undermine your goal. Setting such a precedent could make a massive dent in your long-term progress if you get carried away with it. Since it will take a larger dose of a reward to satisfy your cravings as time goes on, you might eventually find yourself taking two steps backward for every step forward. Don’t risk it.

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2. You overestimate your capabilities and ability to commit.

“I know I haven’t exercised in a long time, but I’m totally going to train for an hour every day next year!”

“It’s been years since I have cooked at home, but it’s time to change. I am going to prepare home-cooked meals every day!”

These quotes demonstrate overconfidence in one’s abilities, which leads to extremely unrealistic expectations. If you eat fast food every day and haven’t been to the gym in over a year, then it is absurd to think you’re going to be able to follow a strict diet and training routine. You would have to willfully ignore a past history chock full of failures to believe that would be possible. Please understand that I’m not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I just want to save you from disappointment. If you bite off more than you can chew, then you will merely set yourself up for failure. This experience could be so demotivating that you end up deciding you might as well give up. You probably won’t drop a waist-size in a month and you’re sure as hell not going to change all of your poor health habits overnight. Small changes stick better. Be patient.

3. You kid yourself into believing you’ll do better “tomorrow.”

“I’m already halfway through the week and I haven’t exercised yet. Oh, well. I’ll hit it hard next Monday!”

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“I know I shouldn’t eat all of this pasta, but that’s okay, I’ll just be sure to make REALLY good decisions tomorrow.”

These quotes demonstrate an insidious form of self-delusion that enables people to procrastinate indefinitely. Let’s be honest. Out of all the times you have said you would work out on Monday, how many times did you actually follow-through? If you can claim a success rate above 50%, I will wire you a thousand dollars. Okay, I’m not serious about the money part (NOT because I’m wrong –because you couldn’t possibly prove it), but you get the point. I played the, “I’ll work out on Monday,” game for an entire semester of college and it wasn’t pretty. My success rate was closer to 10%. To truly believe that you will do better “tomorrow,” you would have to delude yourself into thinking your future self will (somehow) be more disciplined than your present self. I hate to break it to you, but your present and future self are actually the same person. The more you kick that commitment to the next day (or week), the more likely you will keep doing it.

4. You do things that appear to be productive (but really aren’t).

“I reorganized my underwear drawer and made a To-Do list. Time to take a break!”

“Too bad I didn’t work out today, but hey, at least I read a bunch of fitness articles online!”

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These quotes demonstrate how easy it is to kid yourself into believing you did something “productive,” even though it resulted in no forward progress whatsoever. Procrastination is so clever that it can disguise itself in tasks that appear to be productive (but really aren’t). If you work from home and have projects with impending deadlines, then reorganizing your underwear drawer is the last thing you need to be doing. If you spend a lot of time reading fitness articles despite the fact that you rarely apply the advice they contain, then you are wasting your time. If an activity doesn’t result in forward progress, then you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You’re probably just mentally pleasing yourself in a misguided effort to feel better about your inaction and consequential lack of results. Harsh, but true.

5. You lie to yourself so much that your gut instinct can’t be trusted.

“I am better/different/smarter. This would never happen to me.”

“Man, I can’t believe some people are dumb enough to delude themselves like this! Poor chumps.”

These quotes demonstrate the fallacy of believing you are “superior” when you are far more likely to be average just like everybody else. Indeed, people who are overconfident are the most prone to make the mistakes discussed in this article, because their exaggerated (and often unfounded) belief in their abilities makes them arrogant. Arrogant people feel like they are better than everybody else, so they won’t be mindful of these forms of self-sabotage, and thus will be even more susceptible to them. Talk about irony!

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Remember these five steps if you want to stop sabotaging your success.

Have you noticed any of these forms of self-sabotage in your life? If so, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you know a friend who could use a reality check, please share this article in a thoughtful email or social media share.

Featured photo credit: sascha lindner via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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