Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Success

Everyone has a dream: a passion for something that brings great joy and excitement into their lives. Some people will do anything it takes to realize their dreams, while others don’t know where to start. Then, there are those who self-sabotage their own success. The saying, “I’m my own worst enemy,” is used frequently by people when they make bad decisions, but sometimes, we truly are our own worst enemy, and we don’t even recognize it. It is much easier to blame external forces or to accept that something just wasn’t meant to be, than to blame ourselves. 

Self-sabotage doesn’t just affect professional situations and passion projects, it can also destroy personal relationships and even your health. And while outside forces could potentially be blocking your path to success, much of the time our decisions and behaviors are what keeps us from reaching our goals. Learning how to recognize these behaviors can not only help prevent you from falling victim to them in the future, but they can also help empower you with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence. And, while it is not something you can change right away, awareness is the key to a positive self-transformation.


This may not seem obvious, but your lifestyle choices can actually hinder your path to success. We now live in a world of convenience, where nearly anything you desire is only a mouse click away. The luxury that technology provides isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it can help facilitate unhealthy habits if you aren’t vigilant in practicing self-discipline. With so many different forms of media, social platforms, and online shopping so accessible, it’s easy to find yourself spending all your free time each day in front of a mobile device or a computer screen. 

Another related lifestyle issue is diet. Technology also affords almost anyone with an internet connection the ability to have food delivered to their doorstep. And with the busy schedules many of us keep, this option, as well as fast food options, are often the go-to choice to help save time. The problem is, the majority of these quick, convenient food options are unhealthy processed foods full of artificial ingredients, as well as excess salt and sugar.
All the conveniences of technology and fast food can lead to inactivity, which can negatively affect your body by causing weight gain, health issues, low self-esteem, and drops in energy levels. Whether you realize it or not, these things can often sabotage your path to success. An unfortunate finding is that thin women often make more money, get chosen for promotions, or are selected for a job over overweight and obese women. Furthermore, even if you’re thin, low self-esteem or low energy levels due to unhealthy habits can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors.

Feeding Your Mind

Another important thing to consider is what you feed your mind. Thanks to the web, there’s an endless supply of media at your fingertips. But just like fast food, much of it is junk food for the brain. Just like the body, our minds tend to become what we put into them. For instance, if you’re constantly reading celebrity gossip, negative conversations on social media, or other topics that are in essence, time wasters, you’ll start to think in a negative way. A negative attitude or mindset is another self-sabotaging behavior because other people can sense negative energy and vibes. Therefore, it’s important to be selective of what you feed your mind, so that you can increase your chance of success.


Another technology-related self-sabotaging behavior is distraction — especially smartphone addiction. Smartphone addiction can lead to poor sleep habits, which can negatively affect your health and personal relationships, and subsequently, affect your professional relationships and success. One way distractions stemming from technologies such as smartphones can affect your career is a decline in work performance. If you find yourself reaching for your smartphone constantly throughout the day, while you’re at work, you may want to try keeping your phone in your purse or a drawer. Poor performance at work can prevent you from receiving a promotion or from receiving a raise, and could even lead to you losing your job entirely. In this day and age, it is accepted that people will use their smartphone from time to time while at work, but if you can’t control yourself and aren’t able to ignore the constant stream of notifications that tend to flood your phone, this could be one of the reasons you aren’t as successful in your professional life as you could be. 


While there are many behaviors that can prevent you from being as successful as you could be, the most common self-sabotaging behaviors are rooted in fear, such as inaction and insecurity. Whether it is fear of failure, fear of being hurt, or fear of letting go of something you enjoy, fear can cripple a person’s ambitions if they allow it. Considering the pressures of society, battling insecurities can often be even harder for women than it is for men. For instance, if you always compare yourself to someone else, you may end up convincing yourself you’re not good enough to achieve your goals. A better mindset to have is to think of yourself as unique. Embrace what makes you different, rather than worrying that you’re not like another person. Not only will this help you in achieving your career goals, but it will help you in all aspects of your life.

Along with insecurity, inaction can be a huge stumbling block for people. Rather than risking failure, some people have the tendency to do nothing 
at all. At best, your situation remains the same, at worst, this behavior can cause backlash in your career, personal relationships, and even your health. Taking risks and going for what you desire may lead to failure, but doing nothing literally leads to nothing. No one likes to lose, but remember, failure is only temporary. In fact, failures can be great life lessons, make you stronger, and help you to become more successful in the future. Learn from your mistakes and don’t let disappointments keep you from trying again. 
There are many inspiring examples of women who failed before they succeeded. One is Katy Perry, a multi-platinum selling pop artist known around the world. Perry was dropped from three major record labels before finally finding success at her current label, Capitol Records in 2006. J.K. Rowlings, famous author of the Harry Potter series, is another example of a woman who experienced many failures before she achieved success in life. Her failures ranged from academic to very personal, including a relationship filled with domestic abuse and a bitter divorce. But what might be most surprising, is that Rowlings was rejected by every major publishing house when she was querying her now famous manuscript Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In fact, there are few, if any, highly successful people, male or female, that don’t have a history of failure or disappointments on their road to success.

Stay True to Who You Are

One final point to consider is the importance of staying true to yourself. It may not seem like this would be a self-sabotaging behavior, but it most certainly can be. Going back to the wonders of technology, we are now exposed to people from all around the world, with different backgrounds, cultures, and faiths. This is an amazing opportunity to experience new things and to learn from other cultures. These experiences can be very influential and inspiring, but you must be careful to allow only the good parts to become a part of your life; leave the bad and negative aspects behind. Above all, remain true to yourself, because if you’re trying to pretend like you’re something you’re not, it won’t take long for people to see through the facade. It might be tempting to act a certain way or to try to fit in because  you think that’s what you need to do to be successful, but this can actually backfire and sabotage your success later down the road.   

The key takeaway here, is that you are ultimately in control of your success. Once you learn to control your self-sabotaging behaviors, you’ll begin to see failures as stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. So, the next time you think you’re not good enough, not beautiful enough, or not smart enough to achieve your goals, remember that no one in the entire world is like you. You have a unique gift, a unique personality, and a unique perspective that no one else has. The biggest reason most people don’t see their dreams become a reality is because of self-sabotaging behaviors or because they gave up. That doesn’t have to be you. Patience, perseverance, and self-confidence are the keys to success, not talent, beauty, or intelligence. Only people who keep trying, despite failures and setbacks, are the ones who see their dreams come to fruition. HH

The writer is a graphic designer with a major in Professional and Technical Writing and a minor in Psychology.
E-mail: [email protected]

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