Understanding and addressing the ways we might be sabotaging our own career success is key. It’s about realizing that while the road to professional achievement is a journey, there are often internal roadblocks we set up (perhaps without knowing it) that can hinder our progress. These obstacles aren’t just bumps in the road; they can become permanent barriers if we don’t learn how to navigate them correctly. It’s not a one-time fix but a continuous process of self-awareness and adjustment.

What is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage in a career context occurs when we actively or passively take steps to prevent ourselves from reaching our goals. This behavior might manifest as procrastination, self-doubt, sticking too rigidly to comfort zones, or playing small, among others. It often originates from deeper psychological issues related to past situations at work and fear – like fear of failure, fear of judgment, or even fear of success.

Common Forms of Career Self-Sabotage

  • Limiting Beliefs: These are the stories we tell ourselves about our abilities, worth, or potential that hold us back. For example, thinking you’re not smart enough to take on a new project or believing it’s too late to change career paths.
  • Self-Doubt: This can make you question your skills and decisions constantly, leading to paralysis and missed opportunities.
  • Fear of Failure: The anxiety over making mistakes can prevent you from taking risks that could lead to substantial growth.
  • Fear of Being Judged: Worrying excessively about others’ opinions might stop you from expressing innovative ideas or taking on leadership roles.
  • Fear of Success: Sometimes, success brings changes that can be scary. For instance, you might fear that achieving a high-level position will lead to overwhelming pressure or disrupt your family life.
  • Overthinking: This can cause you to get lost in the details and what-ifs, stalling decision-making and action.
  • Procrastination: Delaying tasks that you find daunting or unpleasant can often lead to rushed work and missed opportunities for advancement.
  • Perfectionism: When you’re stepping up in your career, it’s great to aim high, but getting too caught up in perfection can really slow you down. Sometimes, striving for the perfect can lead to delays because you never see yourself as perfect enough to go for it.

Catch It, Challenge It, and Change It

To tackle these self-sabotaging behaviors, I’ve developed a simple framework called “Catch It, Challenge It, and Change It”:

  • Catch It: Become aware of when and how you’re sabotaging yourself. Notice the thoughts or patterns at the moment they occur.
  • Challenge It: Ask yourself critical questions to challenge these behaviors and thoughts. Is there real evidence for my thinking? What would I advise a friend in the same situation?
  • Change It: Replace the sabotaging thought or behavior with a constructive one that moves you forward toward your goals and values.

For instance, if you’re hesitating to apply for a leadership position because you believe you’re not fully qualified, first catch yourself holding back due to this limiting belief. Challenge this notion by realistically assessing your skills and experience—what does ‘qualified enough’ look like? Then, change your approach by setting a specific date to update your resume and submit your application, aiming for ‘qualified enough’ rather than perfect.

What’s next?

If you find yourself resonating with any of these behaviors, it’s time to take a step back and start using the “Catch It, Challenge It, and Change It” framework. Begin by identifying one area where you’ve been your own roadblock. Apply the framework daily, and watch as your career starts to align more closely with your ambitions and potential.

Remember, the path to clarity and success isn’t always straight. It’s filled with learning and growth. Write down one action you can take within the next 48 hours. Keep me posted!

If you’re an organization ready to dive deeper and truly harness the power of your people, consider one of my Clarity-Driven Leadership programs at DebbiePetersonSpeaks.com.

Until next time, here’s wishing you the Clarity you deserve to make the Impact you desire!