We’ve all heard about self-sabotage, but how do you know if you’re doing it? After all, sabotage is so effective because it flies under our radar and we’re usually not aware of its presence. In today’s post*, I share two lessons I’ve learned about self-sabotage and one tip to prevent it from getting in your way of career transition or satisfaction.
(* The content of this blog post was originally included in my November 2016 newsletter. It attracted so much interest that I’d thought I’d share it on my website.)
#1 – Self-sabotage is best spotted in your rearview mirror.
For years, I made impulsive decisions that haunted me. I quit jobs out of frustration instead of taking time to understand the true source of my dissatisfaction (usually rooted in poor conflict management skills) and planning a rational next step. I reacted to provocative emails without pausing to think about the bigger picture. Until recently, I had no idea how badly I undermined my confidence and self-trust by making decisions that left me with a nagging sense of regret – and since confidence and self-trust are key to taking new career steps, I was stopped in my tracks without really knowing why. Taking time to reflect on these moments has helped me prevent them from happening again.
#2 – People won’t necessarily point out what you’re missing.
Initially I left my first career in financial technology to consult as a business writer, without having done much research into related career possibilities. I expected people to tell me that I’d made a mistake because I felt a little bit like I had; my self-doubt grew. Instead, one colleague congratulated me for “living the dream” and another one said, “well, at least you seem confident.” If you’re waiting for someone else to tell you that you’re not being realistic about a career decision, you may be waiting a long time! Few people want to burst another person’s bubble, even if that bubble is about to burst on its own (however, a good coach isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions while honouring your motivation to create change).
#3 – Develop a practice of noticing thoughts lurking in the background
Often we know when we’ve made a mistake or chosen poorly for ourselves. Thoughts lurk in the back of our minds but we fear that if we acknowledge them they’ll only make us feel worse. The truth is, those lurking thoughts can help us be honest with ourselves when we need it most. Then, often a small shift in perspective or pivot in a different direction is all that’s needed to rectify our situation, rather than a major change. Cultivating a habit of recognizing those lurking thoughts and revealing them out loud or in writing can go a long way in restoring your confidence and reducing self-sabotage.
Making a career transition can be challenging enough without having to worry about how you may be sabotaging your own efforts. By reflecting and learning from your past experiences and developing a habit of noticing all the thoughts you have about your situation, you set yourself up to be more successful the next time around.
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