Are you unsatisfied with your lot in life? Frustrated with your career or law practice?
Sometimes you don’t get what you want because other people and outside circumstances get in the way. And sometimes . . . well . . . you get in your own way. How? By throwing mental and emotional roadblocks in your own path and engaging in seemingly benign behaviors that undermine your goals.
Self-created obstacles can be particularly insidious because you may not even be aware of the thoughts and actions that are tripping you up. The negative stories you tell yourself and self-defeating behaviors you’ve adopted have probably become so habitual that you hardly notice them. Even worse, you likely don’t fully appreciate the havoc those thoughts and actions are wreaking on your professional and personal happiness and success.
Banish These 5 Types of Self-Sabotage
Do you identify with any of these 5 destructive thought processes or behaviors? If so, work on eliminating them or, at the very least, minimizing their negative effects on your personal and professional life.
Fear of Failure. A healthy fear of failure, properly harnessed, can be motivating – you might use it to encourage yourself to learn more, prepare fully for your next challenge or dive into your work with enthusiasm. But when that fear of failure causes you to retreat from something you truly want or results in analysis paralysis that keeps you stuck in a rut, you’ve allowed your fear to derail you. Keep in mind that failure, and the learning that goes along with it, is helping you move ever closer toward your goals.
Fear of Success. What if you make partner and you have to work even harder than you did before? What if you earn significantly more than your siblings and they resent you? What if you are promoted to general counsel and your work pals don’t want to go out to lunch with you anymore because you’re the boss? If the idea of getting what you really want brings up fears for you, keep in mind that those thoughts are understandable. After all, success brings unknowns (but perhaps not the unknowns you are worried about). So the fears are understandable, yes, but not desirable. You work hard and deserve whatever success comes your way. Don’t let your fears keep you from achieving your dreams.
Comparing Yourself to Others. You have the ability to move forward and pursue your goals without dwelling on unfavorable comparisons with others. In fact, when you stop competing with others and begin working on bettering yourself, you’re more likely to move ahead quickly. There’s always going to be someone ahead of you but there’s someone behind you, too. Stay in your own lane and keep your eyes on the prize.
People Pleasing. Sure, there are people you need to please. Clients, partners and your spouse or significant other, to name a few. But you can’t please everyone; trying to do so can be exhausting and demoralizing. And even those you feel you need to please occasionally won’t be satisfied no matter what you do. Worse yet, some people will see your constant efforts to please others as evidence that you can be treated as a doormat. Remember that the only person’s happiness you can truly control is your own. Try as much as possible to please yourself first. Make the effort to set boundaries that serve you – in other words, say no to others and yes to yourself.
Perfectionism and Self-Criticism. Stop being so hard on yourself. Yes, you must do a good job for your clients. They expect and deserve nothing less. And yes, you want to be a decent person. But you don’t have to be perfect all the time in order to be proud of yourself, deliver value to colleagues and clients and enjoy what you do. You know all too well that nobody is perfect, so why are you expecting it of yourself? Stop torturing yourself, do the best you can (within reason) and have fun.
A quote I read recently from an unknown source says it simply and eloquently – “You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. Choose wisely.”