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6 Ways Self-Sabotaging Behaviour Is Hurting Your Career

“Behaviour is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals.” Psychology Today sums up self-sabotaging behaviour best, yet so many of us continue to do it. We continue to go about our daily lives knowing what we want in our career and what we want to achieve, but we still sit on it, we don’t do anything about it and wonder why nothing good is happening in our careers.

business women at work

I know that for me one of my long time goals was to have my own business, to have people working for me, yet as a freelancer I was in a comfort zone, and I was afraid to leave it. Guess what happened when I did leave that comfort zone and finally started to believe in my abilities? My business became real.

The fact is, there is so much to do with the mindset that makes us sabotage our career opportunities. Scoring a promotion or landing the career you’ve always wanted is so much more than reading an affirmation that tells you ‘you can do it’. It’s so much more than dreaming it although, that’s a good start because having a dream means it’s possible, the fact you can manifest it in your head.

How self-sabotaging behaviour is hurting your career goals

You can’t move out of your comfort zone.

It’s nice feeling all warm and fuzzy in your comfort zone, that’s why it’s so hard to step out of it to move to the next level. ‘Why risk the feeling of anxiety, stress, worry or disappointment when it’s so comfy in here?’ you tell yourself. The problem is, when we don’t take that next step, we don’t progress. Progression isn’t meant to be easy, we don’t always get there the first time, but we learn along the way. If you’re willing to move out of your comfort zone and experience discomfort, it’s only then you will be able to move closer to your career goals.

Your negative-self talk is taking over.

You want to put your hand up for the promotion, but your negative self-talk is holding you back. It’s saying things like, ‘You’re not good enough. Not worthy or smart enough. You’re not leadership material. You’re not confident enough.’ If you continue to listen to and believe this negative self-talk then yes, you will never progress in your career. We weren’t born with these negative thoughts; they build in our minds over years of experience and conditioning.

The critical thing to understand here and to remind yourself of is, your negative thoughts aren’t real. The more time we give to focusing on our negative thoughts, the more they become something. Don’t give them the time and they won’t grow.

business woman at desk

You’ve got a fixed mindset.

You’ve got a fixed mindset if you feel that you cannot change and you find it hard to receive constructive feedback. With a fixed mindset, you can’t stand failure, and when things get hard, you’re first to give up. You don’t feel you’re cut out to be in the role you want. You prefer to stick to what you know, in your comfort zone.

A fixed mindset is a tough place to be if you want to advance in your career. It doesn’t leave you with much room to move, but you can change it. A growth mindset is what will help you reach your career goals. It means you love a challenge; you like to learn, you take feedback constructively and learn from your failures; you don’t give up.

Learn how to develop a growth mindset here.

You’re saying yes when you should be saying no.

We’ve all done this before, saying yes and then we’ve come to regret it later down the track. Perhaps it’s because you’re a people pleaser. Maybe it’s because you want to keep the peace or your feel guilty for saying no. The problem when it comes to your career is that it can put you in a real pickle if you continue to be the ‘yes woman.’ Saying yes when you should be saying no can reflect poor self-regulation and hinder your ability to prioritise. Remember, don’t take it personally if you have to say no. It’s essential to be honest with yourself and take your time to answer, even if that means asking your colleague to come back in 20 minutes once you’ve made up your mind.

You have Impostor Syndrome.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced impostor syndrome at some point in their life. You might know it as feeling like a fraud or not feeling like you’re worthy of the title ‘expert’ even though you’ve got the experience and study up your sleeve. If you don’t feel like you’re worthy of a position or not qualified (even though you are), your lack of confidence will project this way and hold you back.

Here are some useful and actionable ways to overcome impostor syndrome.

You’re a procrastinator.

Procrastination is a massive hindrance to productivity. If you experience days where you wonder what you achieved at the close of the day, it’s possible your manager will notice your lack of output.  To banish procrastination,  consider setting up a schedule to work to each day, dedicating time for each task. At the end of each day, draft up your schedule for the following day. Other ideas to stop procrastination include taking regular breaks to refocus and make sure your workspace is set up just enough to be comfortable and productive but not too comfortable that it’s easy to slip into a daze.

list of self-sabotaging behaviour

The problem with self-sabotaging behaviour and your career

The problem with the above self-sabotaging behaviour is that other people can see it too. Kris Reynolds, Director at Let’s Talk Career says that one of the main reasons people don’t get promoted is because they’re simply not ready. Kris mentions The Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) and their research into the most common problems that hold people back from being promoted. These problems include:

    • Interpersonal relationship problems
    • Difficulty with team building and leadership
    • Difficulty managing change or adapting to change
    • Unable to meet business objectives
    • Being to narrow in functional focus.

How do you get out of this self-sabotage tight spot?

You could set aside some real self-contemplation time. Look at yourself from the outside in, making improvements to your mindset and putting them into practice at work. But remember to do it step by step, not all at once. You don’t want to fall into the trap of feeling overwhelmed. If an introspective approach seems like a little too much to do on your own,  a productive step is to seek the help of a career counsellor who will help you through the process.

Lastly, another great place to start working on your self-sabotaging behaviour is with my free mental health printables. They can help you track your moods, thoughts and actions so you can make the changes you need.

Download Mental Health Printables Here

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self-sabotaging behaviour and career

Eva Lewis