Self-Sabotage and How to Keep Yourself Accountable

If our behaviour was always logical, we wouldn’t be human. Sure, self-sabotaging behaviour seems like a problem with a straightforward fix, but in reality, it’s more nuanced. You need to start by identifying and acknowledging the behaviour and then take time to reflect and try to understand why.

Self-sabotage can be sneaky. We’ve all had those memorable moments in our lives, drunk dialling an ex, staying out all night before a big exam or presentation, but it can also be more subtle. Perhaps you stick to schedules or processes that don’t work because you’re “too busy” to come up with something more effective. Or you expect change to happen in your life, but you don’t allocate any time or mental energy to male advancements

In fact, ask any seasoned professional or just poll a girlfriend after barre, one of the most difficult things we can do is interrupt ingrained patterns of thought or behaviour. We are creatures of habit, and (for the most part) resist change.

1. Take Small Steps Towards What You Want

There’s a well-known expression that nothing worthwhile comes easy, it also doesn’t come overnight. Try to get a clear idea of what it is you actually want. Then build on that by honestly investigating why you want it. If you understand and are upfront with yourself about the why suddenly it’s a lot easier.

Next break it down, to one small action or commitment at a time. It might even help to create a timeline and a logical order to keep yourself on track.

2. Streamline Your Life And Cut Out Hidden Drains On Your Energy

Emotions can be exhausting. Everything from holding grudges to taking a comment or interaction too personally, or even complaining—yes complaining—can actually be holding you back. Where you can, let things go, move on and try to focus on the positive.

3. Identify Root Causes

When we are under stress, we tend to rely on what’s familiar. Understanding the thought processes and motivations behind our actions is also the best way to change those behaviours. This is something you can investigate on your own, but it also doesn’t hurt to speak with a professional, be that a therapist, a business advisor, or a life coach, someone who is trained and also who brings a neutral third-party perspective. 

Another incredibly common reason to self-sabotage is Imposter syndrome—a feeling that we aren’t qualified or that we aren’t ready for a role or opportunity. And it’s when those feelings surface that we don’t raise our hands, we drop out, or perhaps we even say yes and then drag our heels. And it’s in these instances that we need to pause, reflect and deconstruct our actions. It’s not an easy or comfortable process at times but it does work.

For example, try writing out all of your experience, expertise and qualifications related to the task in question. More likely than not, seeing it spelt out in black ink will help you realise there’s no one better for the role than you.

4. Perfection Does Not Always Need To Be The Goal

Sometimes seeking perfection can actually be crippling. Someone who needs to complete every task flawlessly may dismiss or overlook incremental improvements. Perfectionism can also be a bit of armour, a shield to help you avoid uncomfortable or challenging situations. But often, these are exactly the experiences you need in order to grow!