7 ways you are unknowingly sabotaging your chances for success

Posted May 10

We are our own worst enemies. We get in the way of our own success and often don't even realize it.

Here are seven reasons you keep yourself from success and how to get out of your own way.

1. Missing opportunities

One of the biggest problems that stunts our success is not taking opportunities when they come. Often, we don’t seize opportunities because we are scared of change. We're afraid the unknown leap of faith might end with a crash and burn. It's true that sometimes you dive into something and it becomes a total failure.

But, you don't know until you try.

We also tend to take opportunities for granted. We assume we will always have certain options or that we can make changes when we feel more ready. But, simply put, timing is never perfect. So take the opportunities when they come up.

2. Letting emotions make your decisions

A surprising amount of people do not think decisions through. While it is important to go with your gut, it is also important to weigh options.

We often fail to recognize both the rational and emotional facets of decisions. But each facet is just as important as the other because both predict your long-term happiness.

The best way to combat irrational thinking is to write down your choices. As you do this, acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of each choice. This simple exercise brings clarity and helps you make the best decision for you.

3. Talking negatively to yourself

We are merciless to ourselves.

Most thoughts in our minds are words we would never speak to another person. It is time to turn this around so you feel confident and capable when success comes knocking on your door.

One way to develop the habit of positive self-talk is to say something nice about yourself every time you encounter a common situation like walking through a doorway, looking in a mirror or washing your hands.

4. Making unfair comparisons to others

We are all a little different, which makes each of us beautiful. We each handle stress differently, manage time differently and have different struggles to cope with.

Yet, we compare to a fault. Social media and social pressures often make self-comparisons worse. To think what you see on social media is the entire picture of others' lives is not realistic. People only post the cute or funny pictures. No one wants to post the ones where one eye is slightly closed or a booger is sticking out.

The best way to stop comparing yourself to what you see online is to go through a social media cleanse and limit use. Spend two weeks not checking any social media sites. Tell your followers ahead of time if it makes you feel better. Then, slowly reintroduce social media back into your life and set a time limit for your use. If you go over the time limit, start the cleanse once more. This gets your priorities back in order and helps you to stop comparing yourself to others.

5. Forgetting to work hard

Although we are all different and should not compare ourselves to others, there is no such thing as being the only "right" person for a job. This might take the wind out of your sails, but if you want something, you need to work hard for it no matter how skilled you are.

Set goals and develop a plan with all the steps you need to get what you want. As you move through the steps, you will develop the knowledge, determination and grit needed to actually be a qualified for what you want.

6. Not keeping end-goals in sight

Shortsighted folks don’t see long-term goals. When things start to get difficult, they give up. But, it’s easier to stick to a rough task if you know why you are doing it and what reward is expected at the end of the tunnel.

The best way to overcome shortsightedness is to write down your ultimate end-goal. Then, determine three different ways to achieve it, creating a step-by-step plan for each way. Include potential barriers and caution flags that indicate if you're on the right or wrong path. Doing this breaks down a huge goal into more attainable steps and makes goals more manageable for easily distracted people, like myself.

7. Being afraid to fail

Failure is scary. No one enjoys failure and many of us simply avoid it.

The six points above explain why we keep ourselves from succeeding and how to change. But this seventh point explains why not succeeding is okay.

Failure is the best teacher. We should embrace every scrape and bruise along the way. Everyone can look back and think about opportunities that slipped away, but it is important to take what we have learned from failure and apply that knowledge to the next opportunity.

So, get out there and get out of your own way. You are an amazing person who can achieve all the goals you set for yourself.

Jessie Shepherd, MA, LCMHC is a Mental Health Therapist at Blue Clover Therapy, LLC in Utah. Learn more at


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