Have you ever stubbornly held to an opinion even when it is obviously not beneficial to your business strategy? Or, have you postponed making a difficult decision for the fear of creating conflict in your business relationships? Avoiding difficult things and not admitting mistakes are just two examples of self-sabotaging habits that ruin your path to the life that you want. So what is self-sabotage and how you can overcome it? Let’s find out!


What Are Self-Sabotaging Habits?

Self-sabotaging habits are self-undermining thoughts and behaviors that morph into perpetually damaging patterns to your well-being and success. Fear, anxiety, and negative self-talk are the common drivers of self-sabotage.

To eliminate self-sabotage, you need to recognize the root of such harmful thinking patterns and stop self-defeating behaviors that keep you away from success and what you desire — whether it is for personal or business reasons. 

The solution to getting rid of self-sabotaging habits is to find creative and healthy ways to do things that sustain you and support you in achieving your long-term goals.   

person self-sabotaging by cutting the tree branch she is sitting on

Common Self-Sabotaging Habits That Prevent Your Growth

Some self-sabotaging behavior is easier to notice than others. For example, you can avoid working on deep, demanding work by tackling unimportant tasks. You can cut off a well-paying client only by focusing on demands and difficulties, instead of first trying to work through the conflict and come up with a better working relationship for both of you. Or, you are continually late for meetings, and, therefore, erode trust and respect in your team.

Since there are potentially limitless ways to self-sabotage yourself, it is good to keep an eye on the most prevailing ones.

1. Procrastination.

Are you postponing tasks minute by minute only having to deal with them at the last minute? Procrastinating is a widespread self-sabotaging habit that prevents you from accomplishing vital goals and big projects. Fear of failure often hides behind procrastination. Solve it by separating work into smaller chunks and rewarding yourself for its completion. Eliminate distractions and manipulate the working environment to serve your most important goals. 

2. Impostor syndrome.

“Impostor syndrome” or unworthiness is a self-sabotaging habit that stems from returning to your “former self” after you encounter new growth. 

Even celebrities admit that their glory seems like a dream happening to someone else.

Impostor syndrome is also known as the fear of success. 

For example, hitting a higher monthly income goal for the first time can trigger the impostor syndrome and instigate old unhelpful self-sabotaging behaviors. 

3. Inability to admit mistakes.

Holding to your opinions and beliefs after you have witnessed they don’t work can sabotage your business growth. For example, you are not willing to admit that your business growth strategy is not producing the results you expected or that the person you hired is not the right expert to help you. Failing to incorporate lessons learned as growth is a major self-deflating setback that keeps you stuck where you are. 

4. Perfectionism.

There is a healthy dose of perfectionism that keeps you and others on your toes to constantly achieve high-quality standards, evolve, learn, and grow. However, unhealthy perfectionism that places too high demands on yourself and your team causes stress and anxiety and puts you in an unfavorable position. For example, working hours and hours to complete an email marketing campaign without sending that email won’t serve anyone. At some point, you have to be able to say this is good enough and click the send button. 

5. Overworking.

As a self-propelling passion, entrepreneurship is the opposite of rest and relaxation. Leaders are especially prone to overworking, be it for the need to improve, build, invent, and create, or for the need to tackle competition. Scheduling regular breaks into your routine can help you overcome this detrimental self-sabotaging habit.    

6. Blaming others.

How often and how long do you blame others? You are not responsible for other people’s actions, but you are responsible for how you react. The point is not to externalize your power by blaming others. Taking ownership and making yourself accountable is a great way to find productive and liberating solutions to things going wrong.

7. Making emotionally-driven decisions.

Passion for entrepreneurship is great but it is not enough to grow a business. Using your emotions to hire people or set goals, for example, because you like a person or because you think a product looks good is harmful because it puts a veil on cold hard facts. 

8. Lack of vision. 

A bright vision is behind every business strategy. The vision defines your goals, and goals are the thing that makes all the difference between where you are and where you want to be. Common reasons for the lack of a great vision are negative self-talk, fear of failure, and self-doubt — these self-sabotaging habits keep you small and block you from setting up challenging goals.  

9. Abandoning projects too quickly.

Dropping things immediately when things don’t go smoothly or as planned is a tricky self-sabotaging behavior that can hinder your creativity and problem-solving skills. Workplace creativity is an important leadership trait. It requires fostering to find the right balance between investing too much and jumping off the wagon too early.

Learn more: Solve the Tech Talent Shortage with Workplace Creativity

10. Distrust.

Lack of trust is food for burnout. It worsens team relationships and undermines your credibility as a leader. Not trusting your team is a subversive pattern that impairs your ability to delegate successfully. Mistrusting people is a deep-rooted self-sabotaging habit that can be hard to solve without a strong sense of boundaries. 

11. No structure.

It is easy to blame a lack of time or other resources when things go wrong. Lack of structure interferes with success and helps other self-sabotaging habits such as no vision, procrastination, and overworking. Planning your day around a strong routine can help you overcome chaos and the unproductivity that follows it.  

Learn more: Create Structure with a Flexible Work Schedule 

12. Chasing the wrong clients.

When we speak of unhealthy relationships, the first thing that comes to mind is personal affairs. However, investing in the wrong partnerships and trying to solve the problems of clients that aren’t your best match is a sign that you are sabotaging your success by compromising your goals and vision.

Learn more: Winning Your Dream Clients with B2B Sales Funnels 

13. Poor communication habits.

You might have developed poor communication skills because of unconscious thoughts and patterns. Common communication saboteurs include fear of failure, lack of self-esteem, withdrawal, defensiveness, criticizing, and high expectations.

14. Overcontrolling.

The need for control provides a sense of security and comfort. But it does not bode well with growth and expansion. You may discover you sabotage yourself when you lose interest in the work you do because you stay in your comfort zone. Or, you can be afraid to scale your business because you fear huge losses if you make a wrong step. 

15. Unhealthy conflict resolution.

Holding grudges, silent treatment, attacking, and passive-aggressive behavior are not habits that build healthy relationships. Most people self-sabotage by handling conflicts with limited skills. Almost everyone has a conflict-handling style that keeps them in the same pattern with different behaviors, values, and opinions. 

Learn more: What Your Conflict Management Style Says About You as a Manager 

16. Over-relying on experts.

Outsourcing knowledge is beneficial when you need technical skills for projects out of your scope of expertise. However, blindly depending on consultants and experts must be accompanied by your own research, critical thinking, and analysis. The big decisions and strategizing are on you.  

person self-sabotaging by banging their head on the wall

17. Loss of interest.

After a while, it is not unusual for entrepreneurs to lose the sense of passion for a concept that once thrilled them. If you notice this happening, see what changed and whether you can apply a quick fix. If the idea is no longer inspiring you, maybe it is time to move in a new direction.

How to Overcome Self-sabotaging Habits

Overcoming self-sabotaging habits requires reflection, observing, and training. Here are some strategies to eliminate self-sabotage

  • Put an effort to reflect and understand your own self-sabotaging thinking. For example, work on negative self-talk by replacing it with positive reinforcing language.
  • Change the way you look at things. Instead of threats, see things as opportunities. 
  • Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. You are more likely to overcome procrastination at the moment.
  • Create routines to tackle overworking. Focus on realistic daily processes. 
  • Show as trustworthy and build trust slowly. Create systems for reliability and commitment at work, openly communicate, and ask a lot of questions.
  • Let go of the need or control. Do not fall prey to the God complex. Establish quality criteria and stick to them without the need to micromanage. 
  • Practice failure. The more you get comfortable with failure, rejection, and pain, the more likely you are to achieve success. Practice vulnerability at work. 
  • Analyze small daily decisions you make. Insignificant decisions can snowball into substantial self-sabotaging habits that ruin big plans and goals. For example, going late for a big lunch can drain your energy and leave you exhausted in the afternoon.
  • Give yourself written instructions for tasks. Realistically managing yourself (like you would others) is a solution to avoid self-imposed perfectionism. Simply put, don’t be so harsh on yourself. 

Where do you hold yourself back? 

Overcome self-sabotage.

Sharpen Your Focus  



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