Do you feel frustrated because you have ambition, but little to show for it? If so, you might be sabotaging yourself without even realizing it. Read ahead and I will reveal how self sabotage happens.
Note: A version of this article originally appeared at Lifehack.
1. You get carried away with rewards.
“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 in direct conflict with the value you hope to embody.
A person who values their health wouldn’t use exercise as an excuse to eat junk food. A person who wants to be rich wouldn’t splurge on unnecessary stuff as soon as they save some money.
Rewards are a good way to stay encouraged, but those rewards should never undermine your goal. Setting such a precedent could make a massive dent in your long-term progress if you get carried away with it.
2. You overestimate your ability to commit.
“I know I haven’t exercised in a year, but I’m totally going to exercise for an hour every day starting Monday!”
“It’s been 2 years since I have cooked, but it’s time for a change. I am going to prepare meals at home every day!”
These quotes demonstrate overconfidence, which leads to unrealistic expectations and a whole lot of frustration.
If you eat fast food every day and haven’t been to the gym in a year, then it would be absurd to dive straight into a strict diet and training routine. Start slow.
Mindful eating is more effective than restrictive dieting. It gives you a chance to identify triggers* that influence your eating decisions. Armed with this info, you can change your habits and social environment (which leads to more sustainable results than Yo-Yo dieting).
*Click the link to instantly download a reflection exercise I typically use with my online health coaching clients. 🙂
3. You think you’ll do better “tomorrow.”
“I really want to lose weight, but work was stressful today. I’m going to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s tonight because I earned it. Tomorrow I will eat a bunch of fruits and veggies to make up the difference.”
Here’s the Cliffnotes edition of how the future self bias works. Most people think they will be on their best behavior “tomorrow,” so they pass the buck to their future self.
Problem with that: Your present self and future self are the same exact person (that’s why you don’t follow-through).
Solution: Make a positive change today. Anything else is a waste of time.
4. You waste time with busywork.
“I reorganized my sock drawer and made a to-do list. Time to take a break!”
“Too bad I didn’t exercise today, but hey, at least I read a bunch of fitness articles online!”
These quotes demonstrate how easy it is to waste time on things that don’t result in forward progress.
Procrastination is so clever that it can disguise itself in tasks that look productive (but they really aren’t).
If you have projects with urgent deadlines, reorganizing your sock drawer is the last thing you need to do.
If you read a bunch of fitness tips (but never apply them), you should spend more time at the gym or yoga studio.
5. You think it could never happen to you.
“Man, I can’t believe some people are silly enough to sabotage themselves… poor souls!”
This quote shows how easy it is to believe you are “superior” (when you are far more likely to be average).
Dwayne Johnson described the importance of humility well when he said: “Be humble, be hungry, and always be the hardest worker in the room.”
Arrogant people think they are better than everybody else, so they won’t acknowledge these forms of self sabotage (and thus will be even more susceptible to them).
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
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