Are You Unconsciously Sabotaging Your Own Success?

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Sabotaging Your Own Success

Just because I signed myself up to be the director of this 8 Women Dream project doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally fall down the rabbit hole myself.

I am not immune from procrastination, fear, lack of follow through, and wanting to quit my dream. Pushing through to success with your dream is not easy — no matter if anyone tells you otherwise.

Let’s face it, we’re all human.

Everyone experiences times when you are unconsciously sabotaging your success with your thoughts and behaviors. It’s what you do with them as they arise that creates your success or failure.

Psychiatrists attribute self-sabotage to self-doubt and poor time management skills.

But sometimes I believe it happens even when we think we are humming along just fine with our dream plans.

Case in point: the 8 Women Dream website has been running slow ever since we migrated the hosting from Media Temple over to Bluehost Hosting.  For a year now the sluggishness has been a problem. As I type this, I can’t even believe that I have allowed it to be this way for a year.

In the beginning, I thought the slowness of the site was the fault of a WordPress plugin and I went through the mind-numbing task of turning different plugins off and on while sitting on late night chats with Bluehost techs.  I eventually worked on the problem less and less, moving on to working on other parts of the site, and oh, I don’t know, I began thinking the problem would somehow go away on its own.

This is how we shut down parts of our dream progress.

In the middle of the year my mother was diagnosed with Altzeimers disease and I began to live my life between two worlds — the life where I provided content for websites and my other life as a caregiver for my mother.  I was dog paddling my way through life, then a hacker attempted to take down the 8 Women Dream site.  Bluehost caught it and disabled 8WD until they could get me on the phone.

The universe threw me a life raft in the form of a caring Bluehost tech who helped me restore the site, plug the hole, and laugh with me over my own tech support memories (my  job in a past tech life).  It was during this exchange that I told him about the site speed issue.  He looked at the server logs with me, and without boring you with all the tech details,  he informed me that 8WD was on a hosting plan that was too cheap for the popularity of the site.

It was not an attempt to up-sell me, but he patiently walked me through reading the logs and suggesting a better solution, which was $20.00 more a month.  Did I immediately implement this change?


Instead, I thanked him for his help and told myself that I needed time to think about it.

But what I was unconsciously saying to myself at the time was:

That sounds too overwhelming for me right now.

Spending that money while trying to get my son a vehicle seems crazy to me.

Somehow it will fix itself.

What if I spend the money and 8WD doesn’t become the success I think it can be?

Do you recognize this type of thinking?

It’s strange because as I sit and drink my morning coffee I plan my day and I ask myself what tasks will bring in income, what tasks will let those I love know that I love them, what does my mother need today, and what will I be doing outside with nature.

Yet, the idea of working within a slow website wasn’t placed on my daily tasks around income, love, and health.

This is a prime example of how one unconsciously sabotages oneself.

I work on the site every day.  How much do you think a slow and crashing website costs me in time over a year?  What about in traffic?  What about the visitors that could really benefit from our message who clicked away from the site because it took too long to load?  What about the other writers who provide their stories?

But I wasn’t thinking about the effects of not making this decision.  I was stuck.

That’s what self-sabotage is — it’s the place where you are stuck.  But like most people,  I didn’t see what I was doing as being stuck , or that I was sabotaging my own success.  At the time I thought what I was saying to myself about the site sounded rational.

No matter how many times I cursed the site late at night, I changed nothing.

It wasn’t until something happened recently to make me feel powerless– reminding me like a cold slap across the face why I wanted to have my own website and be in charge of my time and income.

These are the breakthrough moments.

I began immediately to think about the expansion of 8WD and the tasks I needed to complete.  I began working on them with the renewed enthusiasm of a dog with a new toy.  I decided I was done with the slowness of the website and in one click, some credit card information and 20 minutes, my problem was solved.

20 minutes.

And the crazy thing was how relieved and happy I was when it was done.  All my reasons for not making the change seemed foolish — even childish — and the decision brought with it a renewed passion for what I am doing along with the realization that I had been stuck.

And subconsciously sabotaging my own success in the process.

Unconsciously Sabotaging Your Own Success Breakthrough quotes

How tdo you know when you are unconsciously sabotaging your success?  How can you prevent this from happening to you?

First, I would recommend putting all your goals/dreams on one color of Post-It Notes and line them up in a row across an empty wall or mirror that you see every day.  Then take a different color Post-It Note and begin listing all the things you need to do to make the goals a reality and line them up under each goal.  Date each one with the date you placed the Posit-It Note on the wall.

If you complete any of those tasks, pull down the Post-It Note, date it again and toss it in a simple box or a pretty jar to collect all your completed goals.

Within the month you should be able to tell if your subconscious mind is sabotaging your success.  If you look at the Post-It Notes and notice how many, if any, end up in the completed box, then you can see where you are stuck.

When you are stuck you will also notice that …

1.  The external results you wanted to see happening in your life are not taking place.

2.  You find yourself tired, sad and feeling hopeless.

3.  Your “avoidance behaviors” have taken over —  such as eating too much, eating foods that make you sick, sleeping too much, reading email all of the time, drinking too much, watching  TV when you should be doing something else, helping others when you should be helping yourself,  saying yes to things when you should say no, cleaning a house that is already clean, texting friends all day, going shopping when you don’t really need anything, over-exercising, and being on social media sites more than an hour a day — especially if these behaviors aren’t helping you expand your business, or make your dream come true.

The only way to become unstuck is with a trigger.  The trigger can be what you see happening, or not happening with the Post It Notes and recognize where your sabotage comes from.  My latest trigger was the pain of staying the same became greater than the pain of making the website change.

My trigger is pain-avoidance.

Knowing your trigger helps you understand your sabotaging tendencies and find ways to present your goals so they appeal to your trigger. With each of my goals where I am stuck I should come up with a way to show myself the pain of not accomplishing them and outline how to avoid future pain.

Here are 8 other common triggers –

1. Thrill-seeking.
2. Money.
3. Anger.
4. Joy.
5. Fame.
6. Adulation.
7. Hunger.
8. Shame.

Sometimes your trigger will be when life reaches out and slaps you in a way that motivates you to make change, whether it’s negative feedback on something you’ve done or the feeling that you just can’t take it anymore.

Best selling author, Tony Robbins says, “The secret [to success] is to become conscious about your decision making.”

He also says, “New life comes from new choices.”

It’s time for a new life. What about you?


If you want more help figuring out your triggers, read my previous article, 8 Top Ways To Motivate Yourself To Take Action On Your Dream.

  • Guest

    Pain avoidance is an interesting concept that I hadn’t thought of before. Thank you for this. It has given me a lot to think about.