Has this happened to you?
You are working on a project, you have set the goals you wish to aim for, devised a plan of attack and got off to a great start, all guns blazing. Each week you take one — sometimes two — steps forward towards your targets. Everything is going to plan. You’re feeling great. Then all of a sudden you just stop doing what you were doing!? You begin to get a little lazy. Take your foot off the gas pedal and before you know it you’re dead in the water.
The above scenario is a classic case of self-sabotage and one that I have done on many occasions — perhaps you have too. There is no reason to slow things down. There are no genuine excuses, but for whatever reason, you just begin to slack off even though the progress being made should be motivation enough for you to work harder and keep pushing on.
As mentioned above, I have done this on a number of occasions. When working towards health and fitness goals. When trying to save money for a special occasion. Deciding to work on an online project only to pull the plug after a short period of time. And the most recent being last week, with my writing and the progress I have made here on Medium.
Those of you who follow me may remember a piece I wrote a few weeks back — Having a ‘Holy Shit’ Moment on Medium — which discusses the rewards and progress that I had gained from upping the ante and working that little bit harder than usual.
Well maybe I cursed myself, as from then on my motivation and drive has seemed to have slipped. I could feel myself getting lazy with my writing. Not trying as hard and slacking off. I was still posting every day — but only just. That was until last week when the procrastination was at an all-time high. I missed a few days and didn’t even really visit the platform at all if I’m being honest. Instead, opting to kick back and take things easy.
But we all have slip-ups. It’s unrealistic to expect to keep your foot down the whole time, pedal to the metal and moving one hundred miles a minute towards your goals — not that I was making that much progress but it was good for my standards — doing that is a recipe for burn out and complete failure.
So instead of giving up and getting upset with yourself for slipping up, it’s best to recognize the bad habits that have formed, accept it then put a stop to it and make the necessary changes to get back on track.
Find the Reason Why
The first step in putting an end to the self-sabotage is finding out the reason why you are doing it in the first place. The two main reasons I have come up with are; The fear of the unknown and the feeling that we have done enough.
When we start making progress to heights that we have never been to before — no matter how big or small — it can all get a little overwhelming. I touched upon this in a recent article, check it out — Being Afraid to Lose Will Ruin Your Chances of Success.
And perhaps in a way that article was my subconscious telling me that I need to snap out of my current slump. But unfortunately, we don’t always listen to our own advice — can you say, hypocrite?
Reaching the point of the unknown can leave us feeling very uncomfortable. We may feel that we are out of our depth. That this isn’t who we are and that maybe we should stick to what we know. And as a result of these thoughts and feelings, we begin to slow things down. Take a day off here and there slipping slowly back into our comfort zone. Where things feel safe and familiar. Falling back into our old routines and undoing all the hard work we have put in to get to this point.
The feeling of having done enough is the second conclusion that came to mind on my search for a reason why we self-sabotage. We start to see some success in what we are doing and think we have things all figured out.
I have slowly grown my Medium followers to 1.7k — at the time of writing — which isn’t a lot to some people but its the most followers I have ever had on any online platform. I had a feeling of having things figured out. Thinking that these numbers and small successes would keep rasing until they became huge, monumental successes and I could then set my goals even higher.
But I failed to remember how I got here, the work that had been put in to get to this point. We won’t go anywhere in life without doing the work. Getting to this point was no accident. But to think things would magically continue on the same path just by sitting back and slacking off is nothing short of stupidity on my part. Sometimes you need to have an honest look at things to realize what you are doing wrong. Then set about fixing them.
Time to Get Back to Work
Now that we know some of the reasons — there are likely a lot more — why we are vandalising our own success we can set about putting them right and begin turning those dreams into reality.
There will be times when we feel out of our depth. When we don’t have a clue what we are doing. But that is ok. That only means we are headed in the right direction. All we have to do is get the head down and work our way through the uncertainty until we eventually figure it out. It will be scary but it’s all part of the story you will tell once you hit the top.
Remember, you can always do more. When you feel that you have hit a good point on your journey, maybe even reached the goals you had set, that you can now sit back and relax, think again.
There will always be the next level. A new goal to aim for. Bigger dreams to be dreamt. If you are not moving forward you are moving backwards so don’t get complacent, doing so will be your demise. Keep moving onward. Revel in the chaos of the unknown and let’s see how far we can take this. It’s time to get back on track and get back to work.
“Live in divine chaos, embrace it. Forgive yourself. Breathe and enjoy the ride.”