Probably the first thing that came to your mind when you read “sabotage” is procrastination so that’s the one I’m not going to cover. Why? Because there’s a simple solution. Schedule it and get it done. Now on to the other 5 ways we sabotage ourselves:
Wait a minute, there’s a FB message that just came in. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other thing dinging, buzzing, alerting or otherwise distracting takes your focus away from the task at hand. When we lose sight of our outcome, even just for a moment, it takes quite a long time for us to get back on track. Let me give you an example, have you ever walked into another room to go and get something then when you got there you forgot what it was you were going to get? It isn’t Alzheimer’s. It’s distraction. You weren’t focused on your outcome. You let you mind wander off on to something else. It isn’t ADD either. It’s just plain distraction. To overcome distraction, set a timer for 45 minutes and do whatever task you need to do in that time. When the alarm goes off, distract yourself. Go for a walk, stretch, check your beeping devices or whatever it is that you want to do for 10 minutes. Now go back to work for another 45 minutes. This system will train your brain to remain focused for those 45 minutes because it knows that it can cover all those other things in that 10-minute break.
Lots of people have New Year’s goals about losing weight or getting fit. The number one killer of a weight loss goal is temptation. Oooh that gooey, chocolate brownie looks so good. YUM. Your mind is not helping when it uses every sensory recall mechanism it has to remind you about how good those sweet treats are. It has the amazing ability to remember every single detail of your favourite dessert and yet it doesn’t remember your anniversary date. The best antidote for temptation is a change in environment. Don’t go to the place that has the treat you normally have. Ask a friend to fetch your coffee at the Starbucks counter while you stay outside. Tell the waiter you will complain about the restaurant on FB if he even thinks about bringing you the dessert menu. Remove all of the goodies from your pantry. And NO, your children will not suffer. Temptation is not a God-given right. Either are chocolate biscuits.
#3 What the heck
I hear this one at the bar a lot. “Oh, what the heck. You only live once right?” That is self-sabotage speaking not the higher-intelligence of your pre-frontal cortex. Why don’t we just say, “What the heck, I might as well stay on track to reach my goal. I only live once, right?” Why don’t we just realise that we will actually wake up the next morning and have another opportunity to have another beer or another piece of cake or another chance to get the last word in. Why do we have to do it right this second? Why can’t we just procrastinate our bad behaviours until tomorrow? “What the heck, I’ll wait until tomorrow to screw up my diet”. If we do it like most things we procrastinate, tomorrow won’t ever come.
#4 Bad rewards for good behaviour
You’ve done such a good job at work today, why don’t you go out for a beer or six with your mates? You’ve done a stunning job exercising every day this week. Why don’t you reward yourself with a tub of ice cream? Why do we create rewards for ourselves that sabotage the very goals we set? We celebrate a good day in the office to the extreme so that the next day we are so hungover we have a horrible day. We eat our rewards for doing exercise. Don’t get me wrong. I know how important it is to celebrate our little achievements in life. The boss isn’t going to tell you how much you rock so why not tell yourself? And instead of countering your goals, why not a buy a pair of running shoes instead? Or how about a massage? Or maybe just a stroll through the park instead of a morning in the gym? Why not select a reward for ourselves that meets the goal as well?
#5 Self-criticism for set backs
There’s nothing better than a good internal tongue lashing to get us motivated, right? WRONG! When we criticise ourselves for mistakes or set backs, we are actually fuelling the fire of self-sabotage. The worse we feel, the more likely we are to resort to the “What the heck” mentality. Why not a little self-compassion. How about a little understanding? Not everything is going to go right. We learn from our mistakes. Focus on the lesson and try something else. Self-forgiveness goes a long way in keeping us from throwing in the towel completely.
Remember that on the road to our destination, it isn’t a race and it isn’t a marathon. It is a journey. Sometimes we will may find ourselves off the path. Stay focused and get back on. Sometimes we find some temptation just off the path. Set rules to what is in your environment and what isn’t. Sometimes we want to give up and turn around and walk the other way. Take slower steps and decide to procrastinate on turning around until tomorrow. Sometimes we have done so well walking on our path that we want to celebrate our accomplishments. Do so by keeping on the path. And sometimes we might question our decision to be on the path at all because it is harder than we thought. Raise Your Beliefs, Actions & Results. Stay on the path.