Insidious habits could have you stuck in a rut. Break free by celebrating small wins and focusing on the big picture.
5 min read
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Would you sabotage your own success?
Not intentionally, of course. You wouldn’t do obvious things, such as showing up late (or not at all), being too casual with clients, procrastinating to the point of inaction or wearing flip-flops to meetings.
But if you take a close look, you might be surprised to discover you’ve picked up a few daily habits, practices and perspectives that keep you stuck in a rut and incapable of moving toward your goals. If you want to be the CEO of your life and make success happen, you first must take 100 percent responsibility for your present.
Don’t be your own saboteur. Here are five things to stop doing now — and what you should be doing instead.
1. You listen to your gremlins.
You’re not the only one with voices in your head, telling you you’re not good enough or smart enough. I call these voices gremlins. Gremlins lock you in your comfort zone to keep you safe from the risk of failure. This means they also hold you back from discovering your full potential.
Do this instead: Gremlins aren’t bad. They’re scared. Thank them for looking out for you, but tell them their fears are not welcome. Then shut them out. Give the megaphone to a different internal voice — the one that says, “Go for it! You can do it! This will be amazing!”
2. You focus on failure or setbacks.
Things won’t always work out the way you’d hoped or planned. That’s disappointing. But focusing on the things that don’t work blinds you to seeing things that might be worth pursuing. Much like those pesky gremlins, fear of failure will keep you stuck in a negative frame of mind.
Do this instead: Confront your feelings so you can move past them. It could be as simple as talking it through with a trusted friend or mentor. If you’re still struggling internally, consider writing your feelings by hand and then (safely) burning them. Release these negative emotions as you watch them literally go up in smoke. The symbolic gesture actually can be a powerful practice that frees up energy to welcome positive thoughts and feelings. Once you do so, you’ll gain the perspective to see the failure or setback as a gift. Take what you can — a hidden lesson, an experience to be shared — and then move on.
3. You don’t celebrate success.
How can you be excited about your path if you don’t acknowledge the steps you’ve takem along the way? Motivation can be the most difficult part of any journey. Recognizing your successes, however small, helps keep you fired up about what’s ahead.
Do this instead: Celebrate and record your achievements. Did you finish that huge project a day before deadline? Celebrate! Did you assemble that Ikea desk for your new home office on your own with no leftover bits? Celebrate! Then record that success. At the very least, use a distinct color to mark the accomplishment in your planner or calender so you can look back and see at a glance how incredible you are.
4. You see struggle instead of opportunity.
No matter what you’re trying to achieve, challenges are inevitable. If you choose to see only the struggle, you’re in for a tough road.
Do this instead: Accept that certainty as being out of your control and work to better yourself by changing how you perceive these challenges. What you view first as an obstacle could reveal a chance to increase your knowledge base, develop a technical skill or make new contacts. You might even boost your resume in the process: The next time an interviewer asks you for an example of a time you overcame adversity, you’ll be ready.
5. You focus on tasks over the big picture.
Life gets busy. You’ll never run out of tasks that need doing. But are those duties helping you advance toward attaining what you truly want? If you aren’t consciously taking daily steps toward your big-picture vision, you’ll end up lost in a sea of to-do lists.
Do this instead: Make decisions from where you want to be, not where you are. Visualize yourself in the moment after you’ve achieved your goal by aligning actions with your core values. What do you need to do today to become ideal-future you? Make a list of the responsibilities that demand a “yes” and also define which tasks should be a “no.” Maybe it’s “yes” to that weekend workshop or working on your side business but “no” to social media or an extra shift at the job you don’t want to be doing five years from now.