We are all guilty of some occasional self-sabotage: we psyche ourselves out before a bit department meeting, we procrastinate and endlessly delay tackling that huge code we’ve been looking at for days, we keep telling ourselves we are not worth a better job or a higher paycheck.
And while these occasional moments of doubt and negativity are perfectly all right, if you keep engaging in them and continue to nurture them, your career will never really take off, and you’ll remain stuck in a place you don’t like and don’t want to be in, with no one to blame but yourself.
Let’s look at some of the ways you are sabotaging your own progress, and what you can do about them:
You are running away from problems instead of solving them
Challenges in the workplace are simply normal – everyone has them, even Elon Musk.
If you are one of those people who avoid any kind of friction and confrontation, and is looking to sweep an issue under the rug and never return to it, you are sabotaging your own growth and progress.
When an unpleasant situation rolls around at work: you are faced with a deadline that is too short, you are blamed for a mistake you did not make, someone else is taking all the praise for something you have done – don’t run and hide, but take the situation head on, and work on solving it.
You feel angry and entitled
You may be an incredible designer. You may be able to write clean and efficient code better than anyone else on your team. But if all you do is feel entitled and smug, arrogant in your own talents, you will effectively be cutting off your road to success.
There is more to building a career than knowing how to do the work, sadly, that’s just the way it is. Apart from the talent and knowledge, you need to let go of resentment and work towards your goals. So what if so and so has already been promoted? So what if so and so is driving a Porsche? You are living your own life and walking your own path, and letting go of the anger and focusing on yourself will instantly open up new doors for you.
Here is a book that might help you with this issue – letting go of some of that ego, and focusing on things other than yourself.
You work when you should sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things we will ever do in our life – even though it may seem like a whole lot of wasted time. Without sleep, all of our creativity, talent, focus and perseverance will just go down the drain, never to be seen again.
So instead of pulling long hours to get a job done, start working on your sleep, and watch as you do more in less time in “regular” hours. Start by looking at the way you use your electronic devices: instead of helping you relax, is your phone keeping you up? Are the podcasts you are listening to too exciting to let your brain rest?
Make sleeping better a priority: invest in a soothing and relaxing space, get rid of the devices that don’t help, set a routine and execute it every day. Once your body gets used to the sleep, you will notice you are working better and smarter, providing plenty of advancement opportunities.
You are trying to do everything for everyone
This was me a couple of years ago. Whenever someone brought up a task that needed to be done I knew I could handle, I would volunteer. Not because I wanted to get ahead, but because I honestly wanted to help out and do it. I knew I could do it well.
Soon this became the norm: whenever there was something to be done, Natasha was instantly the one everyone thought of. This resulted in an increased workload, a whole lot of stress, and a feeling of underappreciation I suffered from daily.
And it was all my fault – I was the one who trained people I could do more without asking for anything in return. I told them it was okay to assign me stuff no one else wanted to handle. I was the one who invited burnout into my life out of the genuine desire to help someone else out.
Learn from my mistake and don’t keep pushing yourself more than you need to. Of course, take on the extra work, help others out, but know how to leverage it: ask for help, say no, and remind people what you are doing whenever you need to, because no one will keep track of your workload if you don’t.
We are sometimes our own worst enemies, and we get lost in our own minds and behaviors, not even seeing what it is we are doing to ourselves and our careers. Take some time to look at yourself objectively and analyze the ways in which you are tripping yourself up – and remember to do it every now and again, because bad patterns have a way of creeping into our lives uninvited and unnoticed.