Get out of your way: Fleeing Self-Sabotage

This is a re-post Kelly McClendon wrote on July 3, 2017.

July is now upon us, marking that we are past the halfway point for the year. This is a perfect time to assess our progress and refocus on our goals. Let me ask you; are you any closer to accomplishing your goals for the year? Have you completed any items from your action plans? Did you quit any? On January 1st hordes of people make their way to the gym in strides to meet weight lost resolution. Why is it by February 1st the majority of them quit? The same reason that majority of Americans do not have an emergency fund. That reason being we are self-sabotaging our own success.

Psychology Today, defines self-sabotage as, “Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals” (more here). Whenever, you are doing anything that takes you away from your goals/purpose you are self-sabotaging yourself. When you are trying to get in better shape but keep eating the same foods, you are self-sabotaging yourself. When I dig into my investing money to go out and have a night on the town I am self-sabotaging myself. In this edition of, Time is Money, I will look at ways to identify and combat self-sabotage.

Types of Self-Sabotage

Here is a list of ways we get in our own way: (This list reflects my own personal experience. Feel free to add to your own list)

· Fear: The emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, a threat or likely to cause pain. If not dealt with, it can stop us from taking the necessary action to change.

· Concerns: Are the thoughts that pop into your head telling you why you should not do something new (Canfield, 58). For example, you decide to buy a rental property and the thoughts of dealing with bad tenants (the concern) stop you from buying the property.

· Laziness: Defined as the unwillingness to work or use energy. If you are lazy, you will not put in the work to succeed.

· Slow to action (Procrastination): Living as if the opportunity will always be there can cost you. For example, while looking for a car on Craiglist I missed opportunities because I did not set up a meeting the same day that I saw the ad. Strike while the iron is hot. Move faster.

· Quitting: Giving up is a 100% guaranteed way to not get what you want. Be open to changing your approach but do not give up on the goal.

· Getting distracted: In this day and age, it is so easy to lose our attention and focus. While writing this post, I stopped to check text messages, check out Instagram and watch two music videos on YouTube.

· Overwhelming yourself: Putting too much on our plate hinders us from accomplishing anything.

How to identify self-sabotage

The process of identifying how you are sabotaging yourself is not complicated or difficult it just requires some time to yourself, a notebook and self-reflection. Go back and look over your goals. Which ones have you not accomplished? Which ones did you quit? Now with your notebook, ask yourself the following questions and write your answers:

· Why have I not accomplished these goals?

· How close am I to completing these goals?

· What stopped or slowed me down?

· Why did I quit?

· What excuses do I tell myself?

· What fears and concerns do I have?

· Whom can I ask that is close to me, that can give me their opinion on where I am self-sabotage myself? (Important because sometimes were blind to our own faults)

How to step out of your own way

· Ask yourself better questions: For example, what would I miss out on in life for not taking the necessary action? What kind of life do I want for myself? Is this action bringing me closer to or farther from my goals? It is important to link strong emotions to your answers to break the pattern. Take the time to visualize and imagine the life that you will have if you continue to get in your way.

· Put your goals out where you can see them: Make a board with your goals for the year written on it and hang it up where you see them every day. Without the constant reminder, we will forget and put our time in less productive activities.

· Put dates on your goals: Having timelines helps us to prioritize our goals and time management.

· Break down big goals: To avoid overwhelming yourself, break down your big goals into smaller tasks. Create a daily to do list that once completed puts you closer to completing that big goal. Imagine yourself as the lumberjack that hacks at the massive tree trunk until it falls.


Self-sabotage is a problem we all face. If we stop ourselves from taking necessary action, we will remain the same. We will never have the emergency fund we want, go on the vacations of our dreams, experience the retirement we envision, and in general live the life we want. This post is different because it applies to many different areas of our lives not just finances. IT’S TIME TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

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Canfield, Jack, and Janet Switzer. "Unleash the Power of Goal Setting." The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 57-58. Print.

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