6 Tips to Succeed More and Self-Sabotage Less

Part 3 in a Series By Betsy Ross, LICSW, CGP

The previous articles of this series outlined common self-sabotaging behaviors and discussed the reasons why even the most level headed, driven, and smart women engage in these from time to time (or frequently).

This final article of the series includes 6 effective tips to help you in the process of increasing your success by decreasing self-sabotaging behaviors.

 1. Get Curious.

Instead of just chalking it up to rotten luck or attributing disappointing outcomes to the ‘situation’,  be open and get curious about the fact that you ran out of gas and missed the big meeting or dropped your phone in the toilet or forgot the power cord for your uncharged laptop. Be willing to entertain the possibility that YOU (or your innermost concerns about success) are the issue and that this is indeed self-sabotage. Commit to spend some time and energy on discovering why you might be concerned about increasing your success—what the potential negatives might be for you and pay attention to these.

2. Live ‘AS IF’ Instead of ‘WHAT IF’

My first boss told me to dress and behave as if I was already the head of the department or the owner of the company. This meant being fully present in my interactions with others, listening to what colleagues, clients, and customers thought or were interested in, being supportive and enthusiastic, and presenting myself in a way that communicated self-respect and dignity. I did and wow did it make a big difference. Eventually, I did get recognition for my unique contributions, and with it came more benefits, money, autonomy…walk the success walk, envision your success and eventually you can get there!

3. Create Goals and a Personal Success Plan

Take some time to clarify what it is you’d like to see happen in the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 3 years both in terms of your professional direction for achieving greater success but for your personal goals as well. Set up a plan for yourself and list out what you need to do to accomplish these. Be as detailed as possible and expand your plan as your understanding increases. Be fearless about evaluating what you are and are not doing to move yourself along. (Working with a coach or therapist on this can be an extremely helpful way to identify obstacles and hold yourself accountable for overcoming these and for reaching your goals).

4. Find a Group of Like-Minded Women to Connect With

We psychotherapists are highly aware of the power of a group. After a recent professional development weekend that I hosted, a group of powerful professional women in attendance decided, after making excellent progress in identifying and strategizing to overcome obstacles to their own professional and personal  success, to continue their work together as an ongoing group.

Find other professional women who will generously share their energy and support with you. Regularly participating in a professional or personal development group can provide you with direction, help fortify you when the chips are down, and propel you forward when the time is right.

5. Re-define Success

Re-educate yourself to understand that if the work you are doing is significant, then you are going to attract both supporters and detractors. (Success usually shines a spotlight on both your achievements as well as your flubs). As criticism in the workplace, particularly for women, simply cannot be avoided, learn to expect it. A mentor once told me that whenever I present (an idea, position, or response) I should generally expect that 1/3 of the room will find my thinking to be brilliant, 1/3 of the room will not find value in what I am presenting, and 1/3 of the room will not care. I have kept this in mind ever since. I now find walking up to the podium or talking at the conference room table, far less intimidating since all I have to do is present something of value to one in three listeners. It has also taken the pressure off to know that no matter how brilliant whatever I present might be, these percentages will not change.

Also, if your work or ideas are criticized, does it mean that YOU are less valuable, somehow ‘bad’ or unworthy? Certainly not, even though negative feedback can really sting. Why not help yourself grow by viewing all feedback, both the positive and negative, as information about: what is preferred in the marketplace, what others are interested in, and as the positions or points of view of those providing the feedback? This can help you to remain focused on using feedback to enhance your thinking, skills, and approach which can lead you to greater success.

6. Consider solid ‘B’ rather than ‘A+’ level work

For those of us who are perfectionists, the ‘it must be perfect’ philosophy is very expensive both in terms of our precious time and our energy. It can also derail the smartest of us as we feel we must write and re-write and re-re-write or formulate and then re-re-formulate our ideas. All of this second guessing can dilute and even strip out the spirit and creativity of our original inspiration and take away from the final product (and thus be counter-productive to the perfection we are trying to achieve!)

Being able to recognize when you are demanding unreasonably high levels of performance or standards for yourself (and also for those around you) and then re-directing your energy toward a solid ‘B’ rather than a perfect ‘A’ can, in time, lead to better balance, greater overall satisfaction, and stronger relationships.

Consider exploring/seeking insight into WHY you are demanding too much from yourself and/or from those around you. By working with a reputable therapist, counselor, or coach, you can identify your perfectionist stuck points and triggers and work to identify positive strategies to address these.

Routinely reflecting on your own behavior in terms of whether it is productive and moving you forward vs. destructive or self-sabotaging, is important. Taking time to explore (with a professional or with a group of supportive peers) and understand what it is that is holding you back can in time  help you grow and move yourself forward successfully.

To read part 1, go to: Success, Part 1

To read part 2, go to: Success, Part 2

To Learn more about the next REIGNITE: A Professional Development Weekends for Women, go to: Reignite