Here’s the story: You get an idea and a moment of inspiration that gets you amped up and ready to take action. You get to work in a furry of motivation and you say to yourself, “This is it. This is the thing that I’ve been looking for, I’m going to see this one through.” And it really does keep your attention for a while.
Then one afternoon you think, “Hey, I’ve worked hard this past while, I can afford to take a small break.” Or maybe something like, “I’ve hit a block, maybe some time-off will help jog my creative juices.”
Before you know it, too much time has passed and the passion is gone. There’s no point in picking up where you left off anymore, you just don’t have it in you. It’s lost.
Most of us are great starters, but poor finishers.
Despite all the late nights working hard, super-planning and motivational personal pep-talks, it’s always easier to stop than it is to keep going.
What’s up with that?
I mean, seriously. The more progress we make, the more dangerously close we get to taking one, two, three and then twenty days off. Does the word “momentum” mean nothing to us free-thinkers and choosers?
I was planning on releasing my first eBook last weekend. I finished it in time, editing, cover artwork and all the works. Done and done. Yet when it came time to hit “publish”, I closed my laptop and took the week off.
What would make me do a thing like that?
I’ll be honest with you. Deep down, I’m afraid of failing.
They say that the cure for fear is to face the thing that we fear head on. But when you’re face to face with that fire-breathing dragon, it’s easier said than done. It might just be easier to strike yourself out…right? I mean, that’s why we really sabotage our own efforts, isn’t it?
Enough said, if we’re gonna fail, I guess we should do it right. Don’t just sit there and pretend you don’t know what you’re doing. There is no such thing as failure. It’s something you have to choose. If you do choose it, remember, you’re the captain of your ship, own up to your decisions!
If you’re feeling the weight of imminent success in your near future and think that you’re NOT ready just yet, here’s a step-by-step guide to avoid accomplishing things and derailing your success.
How to Self-Sabotage Your Own Success:
1. Have a Goal.
You can’t sabotage something that doesn’t exist. Before you decide to get in your own way, you need to have one. You must have a desired destination, an objective, a goal and a plan. Think about the thing you want most, whether it is a place in life, a disposition in character or a material object. It should be something you REALLY want.
2. Make Some Progress.
Again, you can’t sabotage something that isn’t actually real. Having an idea in your head that you actually haven’t taken action towards doesn’t count. Start to act and build towards whatever it is you want in life (or your near future). Break down your goal into little steps or smaller goals and start to knock a few of the tasks into the “completed” list.
3. See the Horizon in the Distance.
If you start to make some progress, I assume that in doing so you have increased your knowledge in the area of your endeavor. You may also have gained some new skills, insight and connections. You may have even learned of new opportunities or ways to create them. If you haven’t already begun dreaming of what the future holds for you and your work-in-progress, now is a good time to start.
Think of all the things that could be. Think of how far you can go if you actually push yourself to do it. See it, hear it, touch it and taste it. Allow yourself to dream of the kind of success you desire. Dream of how it will change you, how proud you will be of yourself.
Start to see the possibilities manifesting before you, the new horizon awakening in the distance.
Close your eyes and dream big.
4. Compare Tomorrow to Today
Now that you have a vision of the future in your head, open your eyes and look at the world around you. Look in the mirror and tell me if the person in your imagination is the one who’s looking back at you.
That finished project that has everyone knocking on your door in your dream, is it done yet? I bet you have a long way to go before you’re there.
Those people fawning over how amazing you are, what do they say to you now? Do they think highly of you or do you need to prove yourself to them?
Is your dream house for sale? Is your bank account in minus? Are you embarrassed to pick up your date in your current car? Can you even get a date right now?
You might have imagined a cloudless sky with plenty of sunshine tomorrow, but isn’t it just so cloudy and gray today?
Forget that “Master-of-your-fate, captain-of-your-soul” mumbo-jumbo. These are the hard cold facts.
Nothing kicks off a good self-sabotage like a sweet “reality check”, using what is as a prophecy for what could be.
5. Start to Doubt Yourself
Once you’ve taken a good, hard look at the differences between what you have today and want you want tomorrow, you probably saw how much effort, time and dedication it will take to get you where you want to be.
This is a good time to start doubting yourself.
Ask yourself, do you really have it in you?
Are you really going to stick it through? No matter what comes your way?
Are you smart enough? Creative enough? Bold enough?
What if someone criticizes you, can you handle it? What if they discourage you, are they right?
What if you’re not being realistic? What if you just ending up spending all this effort and energy only to discover that you’ve wasted time going no where?
Maybe you should stick to what you know and just play it safe…
6. Feel the Fear
The thing about starting to doubt yourself is that you only need to start. You see, doubt has a mind of its own. It only needs the room to breathe and breed. Once you’ve opened the door, it makes its way in and starts to do its thing. It takes on a life of its own, growing and infecting every unoccupied corner of your mind, evolving into something even more potent: fear.
Once you indulge the doubt, fear will eventually grow in it’s place, like the way an apple grows where the blossom once bloomed. All you have to do now is feel it.
Feel the fear of failure. Feel how embarrassed you will be, how wasted it will all seem.
Feel the fear of what everyone is going to think if you put yourself out there and look stupid doing it.
Feel the fear of rejection. What if you do your best and it still isn’t good enough?
Feel the fear of disappointment. You don’t want to get your hopes up; it’s too painful if they get shot down, isn’t it?
Even more than the fear of failure, feel the fear of success.
What if you do happen to succeed, what comes next? Be afraid of how will you handle it.
Feel the fear of how it will change you.
Feel the fear of how your life will change.
Feel the fear of it’s magnitude, big or small.
Feel the fear of the next step. You know the higher you climb, the greater the pull of gravity.
Feel the fear of deep happiness. It’s unfamiliar to you.
Feel the fear of completion. After all, are you really going to be satisfied once you get there?
Let the fear take you so totally and thoroughly that it saturates your thoughts towards your goals and dreams.
7. Find a Reason to Procrastinate
Now that you’ve felt the fear, it’s probably best you take a day off to regroup. It’s not procrastinating if you can do something constructive, or so you tell yourself.
Finding a reason to procrastinate should come easily. There are so many things that can take the place of the precious moments you spend building towards your dream objective.
Say it’s time needed to build back some creative energy or motivate yourself again. Go for a walk, watch an *inspirational* movie, talk to people in the pretense of bouncing ideas off of them or read a book that has nothing to do with your work.
You might probably have a list of immediate things to do that are urgent, like your laundry, homework, calling up a long-distance relative or finishing that other project you started 2 years ago.
You might even be capable of actually getting sick and have to stay in bed.
Whatever your reason, it should be good enough for you to logically weigh that you aren’t doing anything too harmful to your progress.
But ultimately, you just have to find a reason to take a little time off. Only a little…
8. Extend Your Holiday
Taking that first initial chunk of time off was the real game-changer. While you were making progress, it would have been easy to continue in that path. It’s the Law of Inertia: An object in motion stays in motion, unless otherwise acted upon by an external force.
When you’re in the swing of momentum, it’s easy to propel forward. By taking the day off, you broke that momentum. You were the external force that acted upon your object in motion, causing it decelerate.
The rest of the law states that likewise, an object at rest stays at rest. Now that you’ve begun your “resting”, it will be easier to indulge it even further.
Let your day off turn into two, then three, then as much as you feel you need. Notice how as each day passes, taking another one off from working on your goal gets easier and easier.
Who knew self-sabotage required such little effort?
9. Douse the Fire
With all this time off, you should have found that there are so many other things to constantly occupy your time and your interests. Whatever passion you had for your recently past goal is probably very diluted now if not completely washed away.
This is the part where you think to yourself, “Hey, it’s been such a long time since I’ve taken a step in that direction. I don’t even remember where I left off. I guess I just don’t have it in me anymore.“
If you had any inkling of motivation to get back on the wagon, now is the best time to talk yourself out of it. It’s much easier to stay distracted once you’re already there.
Besides, they say a rocket ship burns the most fuel during take-off. In fact, everything requires the most energy during start-up. Do you really want to go through that all over again to re-start something that isn’t as new and exciting anymore?
You went partway down that road already, don’t you know what you’re going to face this time? There’s no mystery to it anymore.
Where’s the fun in that?
10. Say “I Told You So” to Yourself
Once you have completed steps 1 to 9, you have successfully self-sabotaged yourself. You have succeeding in failing.
All you need to do now is reaffirm the thought you initially had before you begun, the one that begun with the question, “What if.”
You knew you couldn’t do it, right? That’s why you drove your dream right into the ground. I guess you can look in the mirror right about now and shake your head.
After that seemingly pointless process, wouldn’t it have been better not to even try in the first place?
What was the point of all of that?
The bottom line is this: If you’re going to do something, put your heart, mind and soul into it. You might shed a bit of sweat, tears and even blood (preferably your own) to get there, but that’s just the price of success.
No one said it was easy, and if someone did say it, smack them across the head for lying to you.
If you’re like me and you’ve self-sabotaged in the past, don’t worry. It’s not too late.
It’s going to take some serious energy but you can get it together again. Just stop wasting time.
And for heaven’s sake, stop getting in the way of your own success.