As I’ve gone after this UnSabotage work in my own life with ferocity these past few years, I’ve observed that there are two really common culprits of self-sabotage: Limiting Beliefs and Habits.
The sneaky thing about these culprits (and what’s makes them villains in my mind) is that neither walk around in our minds like a bull in a china shop. They are quiet and they stay below the radar.
- Limiting Beliefs: are like soundtracks that play in the back of your mind. They're not so loud that they attract attention which might question their legitimacy. But they're also not so quiet that they don't influence us. These beliefs might sound something like “oh, that’s not for people like me,” or “I don't deserve something that good," or "that's just my luck."
- Old Habits: the interesting thing about habits is they can be so helpful when they’re developed but after a few years they just might not serve you well any more. Just think back to high school. The habits you formed then probably didn't serve you well in college. And your college habits probably didn't serve you well in your first job. New seasons and new challenges require us to take stock of our habits, ditch the old and develop a new habit that fits better with the goals, dreams and responsibilities you have today. But when seasons aren't as clearly marked as moving from high school to college, or if the roadmap isn't as clear as "take these classes and you'll get a degree," spotting habits that no longer serve you well can be a bit more murky.
Here’s an example of mine on the old habit side. A few years ago, I would check my email first thing in the morning… like when I was brushing my teeth first thing in the morning. I would do the morning email purge, you know, going through mass-deleting all the junk and newsletters I don’t read any more but haven’t unsubscribed to yet, and then plan my day around the rest of the emails, those from clients and coworkers.
And this old habit served me well in that role. I was able to make sure things were staying as close to schedule as possible, try to anticipate questions our clients had and make sure the team had the answers to any questions they had around what needed to be done that day or week.
But when I stepped out to build my own dream, that habit still persisted. I would wake up, grab my phone, brush my teeth, do the morning email purge and then see what was left. And, I’m embarrassed to admit, it took me by surprise when I realized my day was no longer driven by others’ emails. I had to take a fresh look at my morning habits and define my priorities and tasks based on the plans and the roadmap I'd developed for my business. And I absolutely knew I needed to exchange this habit I'd carried over to a new one that better suited this season. Ultimately, I changed my morning email habit to later in the day. I would NOT open email until I had already accomplished at least one important thing on my list for the day.
Interestingly, in this specific example, I also found a limiting belief tucked in there. I uncovered the mindset I'd carried over that my schedule and priorities were dictated by others. In this season and with this project, this is not the case! I needed to shift my way of thinking about this to be confident enough in what I was working on and prioritize my day accordingly... and say no to things that no longer aligned.
The limiting belief piece was actually more tricky to redefine than I thought it would be, and I'd be lying if I said I've totally moved away from this belief. But because I'm aware of that thought pattern, I recognize it MUCH faster than I used to and can focus my thoughts on what I need to get done much easier.
And, the same thing still happens with my old email habit. Some days I slip and, without even thinking about it, I’ll catch myself with my phone in hand while brushing my teeth! But just like with the limiting belief side of this example, the awareness of the old habit (and the knowledge that it no longer serves me well!) gives me more than enough determination and motivation to stop reading mid-email and move toward that new habit that makes much more sense these days!
As with anything important, it can take time to permanently eliminate these well worn paths in our mind, but the awareness piece is gold you can touch and react to today.
So, I encourage to ask your lovely self, "are there any old habits that served me well once that I need to revisit? Or are there any limiting beliefs that I've never questioned that need to be questioned?
Trust me, your freedom and your best self are both worth it.