Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Subtle Art of Self-Sabotage

Your life is going great. You've been going to the gym every morning, retiring at a reasonable hour, and making sure you don't say or do anything to hurt others. All your laundry is folded and pressed, and you've been finishing your work on time.

Then one day, you just don't feel like going to the gym. You decide you deserve a day off. After all, you've been working so hard. The next day, you decide that you can slack off a bit at the job. You've been doing so well...why should you be the only one in the company who works this hard?

Fast forward. It's two months later, and you don't even remember what the inside of your gym looks like. You are so far behind at work that you've been working late every night for the past two weeks, which has also kept you from getting that mountain of laundry out of the way.

What happened?

Self-sabotage seems inevitable to some. When everything in your life is going great, all of a sudden you start indulging in behavior which undermines all the hard work you have put in.

For some of us, success is too uncomfortable. Therefore, we subconsciously wreck everything great we have built up for ourselves. So how do we stop self-sabatoge from dashing our picture-perfect life?

1. Know your limits. Some people self-destruct because they have taken on too much. You do not have to be so busy that you don't have any time for some unstructured fun. Don't forgive to give yourself to permission to change your plans as needed. Flexibility is acceptable as long as it doesn't turn in to a permanent reason to slack off.

2. Don't beat yourself up. Let's say you miss one night of exercise. That's fine, as long as you don't make yourself feel guilty and try to punish yourself by adding extra time somewhere else or taking away one of your fun activities. IF you make a mistake, as you will, simply pick yourself back up and start again. No need to give yourself 100 lashes.

3. Prioritize and Practice. Make sure that you plan the priority things first and all other stuff later. By practicing your schedule, you will see what is important and what isn't, and can plan around that. Some people use a three step system: must do, should do and it can wait. Allow yourself some wiggle room by asking, "how important is this, really?"

Remember that every moment of your life needn't be planned; allow yourself time to do nothing or have fun. Give yourself permission to relax. And when that old "I can do it later" chimes in, think of the consequences.

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