One of the most freeing lessons to learn in your life is that you are the only person responsible for your own success. It can, however, be terrifying to face the truth that you alone have the power to either move forward or stay stagnant. Because this freedom is so scary, many of us choose to just eliminate the possibility of success before we’ve even made much headway on our goals. That way, we can give up before we ever run the risk of failure.
This is the definition of self-sabotage, when we don’t even give ourselves the chance to succeed. The driving emotion behind self-sabotage is fear – the worry that you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals or the belief that maybe you don’t even deserve success because you’re not “good enough.” Fortunately, once you learn how to identify your negative behavior patterns, you can begin to replace them with positive actions that will allow you to make progress despite your fears.
Here are six strategies you can use to get out of your own way and stop blocking your own success. Do you see yourself falling into any of these self-sabotage traps in your own life?
1. Stop Using the Word “Can’t”
Let’s say your big dream is to travel the world before you die. Although you really want to achieve this goal, it seems so unrealistic to you that you come up with all sorts of reasons why you “can’t” do it. Why you “can’t” save the money or take off time from work. But the truth is, barring an actual physical or mental limitation, there really is no such thing as “can’t.” There is: “I’m scared to do this” or “I’m not willing to take action” or “I will not do what it takes to make it happen.” But there is no “can’t.” You have the ability to take actions that will lead you closer to your goals. The only question is how bad you want something and how hard you’re willing to work to get it. (Read: Do You Use Limiting Words or Possibility Words?)
2. Stop Promising Yourself “Someday”
When you’re afraid of taking action, it’s easy to procrastinate and tell yourself that “someday” you will pursue your big goals. Not today, maybe tomorrow. But tomorrow is not promised to any one of us, no matter how much we try to trick ourselves into believing that it is. We carry that calendar, cell phone, laptop and iPad as a crutch to ensure that we’re so busy there has to be a tomorrow. But the reality is that for all of us, there will be one day that tomorrow will not come. There will be one day when we do not roll over in the bed to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock. There will be one day when we will not wake up to greet the golden sky. So, stop putting off your dreams until “someday.” You deserve to be happy TODAY. (Read: You Don’t Have to Find Out You’re Dying to Start Living)
3. Stop “Getting Ready” to Take Action
Your lizard brain will try to convince you that you’re not ready yet. That you don’t know enough. That you need to do more “research” before you make a decision. This leads to analysis paralysis, where you research and read and think about your options so much that you become mentally paralyzed and unable to decide upon any course of action at all. I personally know people who have been “about to” launch their business or start looking for a better job for years now. You’d be surprised at how time flies when you’re using excuses to avoid putting in the work to pursue your goals! There are only so many books you can read, degrees you can earn, classes you can take and advice you can get before your attempts to “get ready” become a mask for your own fear, not to mention a ridiculous waste of time. At some point, you have to stop taking workshops and start doing the work. (Read: You Don’t Need Any More Advice)
4. Stop Saying You Don’t Have the Time
You might swear up and down to anyone who will listen that your ultimate goal is to quit your job and run your own business doing what you love. Yet, every night, instead of working on your dream, you sit in front of the TV to watch Real Housewives of Atlanta or waste time on Twitter. The result: you end up perpetuating the lie that you don’t have any “extra time” to make progress on your business ideas. Then, when opportunities do come up, you don’t feel ready or prepared to take advantage of them. It becomes a vicious cycle and you never get anything accomplished. You can always MAKE time for the things you really want to do. Of course, this means you will have to prioritize your goals over other activities in the meantime. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible. (Read: 4 Ways to Find the Extra Time to Work on Your Passion)
5. Stop Surrounding Yourself with Negative People
It’s absolutely true that misery loves company. Some of your friends may be miserable because they’re not living their ideal lives, so they will have nothing constructive to say about your ambitions. Just try to ask a friend who’s been dogged out by her last boyfriend for relationship advice. She will heap her cynicism about love onto you and discourage you from showing up as your best self in your dating journey. A friend who just got laid off might push you to “take what you can get” in the job market and not hold out for what you’re worth. Although you may call these negative people your friends, it’s important to remember that they might project their attitudes onto you when you ask them for help. In fact, when someone is not happy with their own life, they often find it difficult to fully support others who are on the road to success. This is why it’s important to distance yourself from negative people as you pursue your goals. Or at least find some new friends and colleagues who have a positive outlook and are committed to creating their ideal lives. (Read: The Price of Snark)
6. Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
Many people use the excuse of not having any money to get from where they are to where they want to be. Yet, some of those same people will go to the mall and get a new outfit this weekend instead of using that money to save for their dream vacation or pay for a business license or sign up for a gym membership. You may not earn much money in your job or in your business right now, but you can still use the income you DO have in a way that honors your goals. Instead of spending your paycheck on random stuff, you can decide to only buy what you need and put the rest toward your big dream. It might take some time, but you can fund any goal you want if you simply stop purchasing frivolous things that don’t get you any closer to living your ideal life. (Read: 7 Strategies to Help You Stop Buying Things You Don’t Need)
When you eliminate the behaviors that no longer serve you, you send a message to the universe that you’re ready for a better life. By putting these six strategies into action, you also give yourself permission to walk the bright path to your own happiness.
Are you sabotaging your own success in any area of your life right now? I’d love to hear which behaviors you struggle with the most or how you’ve been able to overcome any of them. Please leave a comment below and join the conversation – our HBW Community is becoming a great place to connect with like-minded ladies, ask questions and get support
Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman. Follow Rosetta on Twitter.
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