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What have you done to limit or even destroy your chances at success?

A lot of people, in some way or another, undermine themselves. While this is often impossible to detect in real time, it is easy to see in others and almost as easy to see, if you look, in hindsight for yourself. There are ways we sabotage ourselves both consciously and subconsciously.

I remember as I was planning my departure from the investment industry, I would meet prospects and go through our normal introductory process. There were many people who were a good fit and families we could help, but for quite some time, it seemed they wouldn’t move forward. Early on I thought it was them…they weren’t truthful, were there for the free advice, etc. But as I dug deeper, I realized was simply sending cues to make it really hard to work together, or even sending the message that I would rather be coaching and speaking than managing their wealth. In any event, I was just not adding new clients… and it was because of me.

Let’s look at some ways that you might undermine yourself:

Consciously – negative self-talk, procrastination, avoidance, perfectionism

Subconsciously – messaging, tone, decision making, confrontation, negative messaging, lateness, broken or incomplete work.

Why do we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors? Well, fear is omnipresent, so let’s focus on this.

Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of being revealed, fear of being relied upon, fear of being let down, or even fear of being accepted. Fear and pain avoidance is a huge motivator.How do I know if I am doing this?You either are going to take actions that give you a sense of control over your life – like planning or sticking to one isolated activity. But you might be doing the opposite, avoiding commitment, being inconsistent or “looking for inspiration” - perfection before progress.

What can I do?

Well, if fear is the motivation, we must deal with this. What we acknowledge we can fix, so what is your fear? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? If it is intrinsic, investigate if it is something you lack, or perceive that you lack. Fixing tangible skills, experience, or qualifications are things that can be identified and rectified. So you can remove your fears of inadequacy, or incompetence or even worth by building up your CV.

But if your reasons for sabotage are more deeply rooted, you might need professional help. Sometimes your fears of success or acceptance can be psychological to the point that someone who is skilled at helping others work through these challenges is required. Childhood issues, repeated “conditioning”, or even situational brainwashing are all things that a professional is better suited for than you are. A good measure for when you might need outside help – either psychological or simply a trusted and objective adviser, would be when you’ve taken care of the tangible and yet you continue to repeat the same patterns. You might also find that stress or anxiety wells up or even hostility and anger as you project your deficits onto others as their acts against you.

“Scheming on a thing, that's a mirage. I'm trying to tell you now, it's sabotage” – The Beastie Boys

Next time you find yourself coming up short of expectations; ask yourself if it is out of your control, or is it self-sabotage.

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