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5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging At Work – And How To Stop!

So you didn’t put yourself forward for the promotion again? And you didn’t speak up at the last team meeting, even though you knew the subject backwards. And that new project the guy at the desk next to you has walked off with – the one that’s identical to something you did outstandingly well in your last role – well, don’t even go there…

Sound familiar? I bet you can add lots more examples can’t you? Do you find yourself tongue-tied when senior members of staff ask for your opinion? Do you spend hours over-preparing for a piece of work or presentation? Do you beat yourself up when you think things don’t go just the way you want them to? And if you’re challenged over something, well…

I know all about this stuff, because I’m really good at practicing self doubt and in particular, self sabotage. Well, let me qualify that a bit…I’m great at it, but far less successful these days, because I’ve developed a whole heap of strategies that put those two terrible twins back in their box.

If you’re a professional woman who practices self sabotage on a regular basis, you may find these 5 tips a useful starting place to begin to learn how to practice some more helpful strategies.

1. You’re thinking the wrong thoughts

Mindset is Queen. What you’re thinking on the inside will be reflected clearly on the outside for everyone else to see. In the words of Mary j Blige, ‘You gotta stop thinking what you’re thinking about yourself , else everyone else is gonna be thinking it too!’ Changing the way you think isn’t an overnight job – you can start by monitoring where and how you practice ‘faulty’ thinking. What situations really bring this out in you? There’s probably a pattern of behaviour going on here, and certain situations and people trigger this type of thinking in you. Use a journal to make a note of where and when, and really importantly, what, you practice saying to yourself. Now, what would you prefer to say instead? What’s going to be more helpful? Make a list of more helpful phrases/words that you could practice instead – then next time you’re in the same situation, pick one phrase from your list, and practice it instead. Notice what happens, and how you feel.

2. You’ve got a reputation

Have you got a reputation for being the person who….? (Fill in the blanks yourself.) It’s easy to slip into a rut and get known for things we’d rather not be. When was the last time you surprised your team by adopting a controversial stance, bought innovate ideas to a team meeting or gave your opinions about the latest research in your field? Be different, be new, do something unexpected that will make notice you a little more.

3. Other people’s priorities become yours

Feeling tired, overwhelmed and frazzled, so that you’ve no energy left for the more exciting or high profile projects you’d love to become involved in? Then learn to prioritise your own stuff, difficult if you’re busy practicing number 2. On a day to day basis, what are the real priorities of your role? Once you know those, make a plan to meet them. Set boundaries and let others know what they are. Get better at saying no. In the longer term, decide what your career or longer term priorities and goals are – then put a plan to paper to commit to achieving those.

4. You’re not thinking strategically

Once you know what your longer term priorities are, you can begin to think more strategically. Set some goals and make a plan. What resources do you need? Who do you need to know? Who can help you? Who do you need to be to achieve these longer term goals? Network mapping can really help identify who you know and who you might need to know. Carrying out a skills and strengths audit can help you see where you are now, and what you need to improve or acquire.

5. You’re not being seen or heard

Are you invisible? The first point about thinking the wrong thoughts can have a lot of impact here. If you work hard, become a ‘stalwart’ of the company or organisation and become the dependable person that can be relied on for …… (fill in the blanks from number 2), then you’ll be noticed by the people who matter, right? Wrong. Working hard is just not enough. You need to work harder to be noticed and heard – you need a voice and a presence. Trust me, I’ve been there. This means taking a risk, which isn’t always easy, but believe me, it’s worth it. How to star? Volunteer for a project or follow up after meetings with the key members of your team. One way to start is to identify a person who may be influential or a person you know may play a key role in your future, and ask for feedback. And keep asking. Asking for feedback ‘…communicates humility, respect, passion for excellence and confidence all in one go.’ Finding the Coaching in Criticism, Harvard Business Review, January/February 2014.

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