What ways are you setting yourself up for failure?

4 Steps to Avoid Self-Sabotage Thinking

When faced with a challenge, you may be tempted to dwell on the barriers that stand in your way and use them as an excuse to defer action. But self-handicapping will prevent you from reaching your career goals.

In an October 2012 Harvard Business Review blog post, coaching expert Susan David identifies four ways to conquer self-sabotage:

  1. Spot the warning signs. Are you holding back? Coming up with a list of excuses? Fixating on potential obstacles?
  2. Clearly state your goals and avoid excuses. Don’t play the “what-if” and “if-only” game. Instead of obsessing over potential hurdles or what could have gone better, identify factors within your control and manage them effectively.
  3. Take control of negative emotions. It’s normal to feel disappointed, angry or frustrated when problems occur. Don’t beat yourself up as you experience these inevitable emotions. Shift your focus to what you can control.
  4. Go for mastery. Self-handicapping usually kicks in when you’re trying to avoid negative feedback. Instead of worrying about colleagues’ reactions and criticisms, work toward mastering a domain that you value. By recognizing what matters to you, you’ll be motivated to move in the right direction.

We have goals and we have excuses, some of which are true and valid. This is the hard part. Some of us move the goal posts, and accept our excuses as facts. Others see excuses as challenges and figure out ways of going around them to achieve the goals in spite of the challenges. Which do you do?

It’s always helpful to work with an executive coach, who can help you navigate your blind spots and develop greater self-awareness. Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for being courageous enough to turn weaknesses into opportunities for growth.

Also recognize that putting your best foot forward means you’ll occasionally step in some mud. It’s up to you to decide which is more perilous: the risk of disappointment or the prospect of never reaching your potential.

If some of this makes sense and strikes a personal chord with you, maybe we need to talk? Contact me here or call 316-634-2328. I’d love to hear from you.


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