9 ways you’re unknowingly sabotaging your own success

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You want to be successful, and you know you’re working hard enough to deserve it.

Yet, things just don’t seem to be going the way you want them to.

It sounds like you’re unknowingly sabotaging your own success — don’t worry, most people fall prey to that sooner or later. 

But since you’re reading this, you already have a big advantage. Once you figure out how you’re sabotaging your success, you can easily put a stop to it and get back on the right track.

Here are the top 9 ways to watch out for. 

1) You want it to be “perfect” before you get started

Have you ever wanted to start a social media page, or write a book, or create a course, but kept waiting “until you’re ready”?

If you’ve participated in at least one decent self-development course, you’ll know that this kind of thinking only sabotages your success

The truth is, nobody feels “ready” when they get started. The whole point of you being at the beginning of your journey is that you don’t yet know what you’re doing. 

Your first few posts, or paragraphs, or modules, will not be the best.

But if you’ve got a vision for what you want to achieve and an open mind, you’ll learn to make it better as you go. 

2) You think you know everything

If you compare successful people across all kinds of different fields — sports, business, relationships, what have you — you’ll notice something in common.

All these people are extremely good at what they do, and they are without a doubt wise and experienced.

But all of them conserve a sense of humility that keeps them learning, each and every day.

The moment you choose to believe “I already know it all, I don’t have to learn or work on myself anymore” is the moment you begin sabotaging your own success.

Because nobody can truly know it all. And even if you do know everything at a given moment, the world will continue to grow and evolve. 

It’s just up to you to choose if you’d like to grow and evolve along with it. 

3) You get set in your ways

They say “why fix what isn’t broken?” Routines can play a powerful role in reaching success, and when you find a solution that works really well, it makes sense to stick to it. 

But if you take this to the extreme and refuse to try new or different things, you’ll end up sabotaging that success you so painstakingly built. 

Being open to trying to do things differently will keep you on the lookout for new developments and solutions to your problems. It will also help you stay flexible and adaptable

The idea isn’t to force a change if one isn’t needed — maybe you’ll look around and find that the way you’re doing things is indeed the best.

This kind of confirmation is also very useful to have. 

4) You don’t listen to other opinions

Your vision of success is entirely your own, and you have to be willing to ignore what other people think if you want to blaze a new trail. 

Many groundbreaking ideas would never have happened if we were too hung up on what other people say.

But, it is equally dangerous to have no regard whatsoever to other people’s opinions. 

Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong — but as the great book Thanks for the Feedback explains, you can only decide whether or not feedback is useful if you listen to it first.

A couple of my friends have made suggestions about how I could better run my business. Some tips were completely opposite to what I wanted to achieve, but others were really good points.

If I had discarded their opinion right off the bat, I would never have been able to make great improvements to my business that helps me run things much more smoothly now. 

5) You feel entitled to success

I’m sure we can all name a few people who undoubtedly deserve great success in life. But 

This has to do with the karma of the universe, and how everything that exists has a real impact on the things around it.

If you feel entitled to success, you’ll feel superior to others, and lose reverence for the way that life works. You’ll become lazy and stop putting in effort, making things start to slip through your fingers.

You’ll probably also stop learning, which is another way to sabotage your success as we saw above. 

What will the universe’s reaction to this be? Eventually, you will lose your success. Because while we are all beautiful souls, nobody on the planet automatically “deserves” to have anything.

The universe will teach you this lesson in a rather painful way. 

6) You are afraid to fail

We all go through self-doubt from time to time — or even on a regular basis.

But if you want to be truly successful, this fear cannot hold you back.

When you really get down to it, fear has only one purpose: making you run away from predators such as lions. This is obviously a very useful emotion, and you should definitely pay attention to that fear.

If the reason you’re scared, though, is because you’re about to speak in front of a room full of people, there isn’t any real danger. 

Do you really want to give up going after your dreams all because of a feeling? 

You can’t expect to never be scared again — but you can do it anyways, even if you’re scared. And if you fail? Then you’ll just get up and try a different way. 

7) You are disorganized 

People who sabotage their own success tend to live in chaos. They are always running behind, they forget important tasks, and usually even their living space is messy.

Even if you’re used to being like this, disorganization makes it really difficult to maintain success. It creates a breeding ground for problems that could have been avoided, or didn’t have to come up at all. 

You’ll begin to feel stressed and out of control, which can also lower your self-confidence and slow you down in your ambitions.

Of course you don’t want that — so instead, get your life together. 

Everyone organizes themselves in a different way, so just find a method that helps you stay on track. 

8) You glorify the idea of being busy

How many times have you heard someone say they’re busy? Although it comes out disguised as a complaint, most of the time there is a tinge of pride mixed in. 

At some point, we started believing that success means hustling and long hours of hard work.

But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Timothy Ferriss offers a particularly unique approach in his book The 4-Hour Workweek

As the title suggests, he works only 4 hours each week. This means he has the rest of his time free to spend with his family, explore hobbies, and have new experiences. If that’s not considered success, I don’t know what is!

For sure, the things we need to do to be successful will take time and energy, and we cannot build a system like Ferriss has overnight. 

Just be sure that what you’re busy with actually makes sense and you’re not just doing things for the sake of being busy. 

9) You don’t keep the end goal in sight

When people start nearing success, many of them make the mistake of losing sight of the end goal.

This is pretty dangerous because you might start going in the wrong direction, and you’ve got a lot of momentum already so you’ll move pretty quickly.

In this way you might end up getting to a completely different place than you wanted, and it could be difficult or time-consuming to get things back in order.

A great example is a telling story I read in the 4-Hour Workweek

A businessman went on vacation to a small fishing village and got off a stressful conference call. 

He went to clear his head at the docks and came across a fisherman packing up with his bucket only half full. Intrigued, the fisherman asked him why he doesn’t keep fishing. 

The fisherman replied that the fish he had was enough to feed his family for the week, plus sell the rest to make the money they needed to live comfortably. Instead, he spends his time playing with his son, helping his wife, and enjoying the peaceful vibe at the village. 

Eager to help, the fisherman told him he should fish more, then expand his business to a multinational empire and he could make millions of dollars. 

“And what would I do then?” asked the fisherman. “Well, and then, you could retire, and spend your time playing with your son, helping your wife, and enjoy the peaceful vibe at the village.” 

The businessman’s mindset is a classic example of losing sight of the end goal, which leads him to focus on expanding his business when with a smaller one, his end goal could be right within reach.

Final thoughts

These 9 ways you’re unknowingly sabotaging your success can sneak into your life without you even knowing.

But now that you have awareness, you can recognize what’s going on and make sure it never holds you back again.

So break free from those negative patterns and go claim the success you deserve!

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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