5 Ways Self-Sabotage Is Stopping You From Reaching Your Goals


You wake up every morning feeling nervous, conflicted, exhilarated, defeated…like you’re ready to take the leap, but then totally unsure.

Does this sound like you?

If so, then you probably have some deeply ingrained habits that are working against you. In my blog post about getting unstuck I talk about how to create space. However, when coaching clients, I’ve found one of the most effective approaches to confront self-sabotage is by asking the classic “w” questions:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why

Let’s start at the top!

Self-Sabotage Block #1: You don’t know who you want to be

self-sabotage - understand the who

Self-sabotage starts with you engaging in thoughts and behaviors that purposefully (even if sub-consciously) block your progress. First things first. Define who you want to be. Understand who the future version of you is and who you serve. Ending self-sabotage also requires an understanding of who you are at the present moment. Who do you serve now? Some books that I recommend to jump-start your thinking about self-sabotage:

Self-Sabotage Block #2: You don’t know what you want to accomplish

self-sabotage - what to accomplish

Self-sabotage is something that is often rooted in fear. This is especially true if you haven’t decided what you want to accomplish as your end goal. Fear can come from a place of being stuck. So getting unstuck is very important in order for you to move forward. Another source of fear that I often hear about from my coaching clients is fear of success. When I work with clients as a success coach, many who have tried any venture have already experienced failure in some way, form or fashion.

So that isn’t the problem. The problem comes when those clients figure out a new working approach to their path to success and they begin to sabotage themselves because they have an unconscious fear of success! Get clear on what you want to accomplish and focus on clearing your energy/mental blocks around them. A book that I think is very useful in working through fears is The Fear Workbook: How to Stop Procrastination, Self-Sabotage, and Fear from Stealing Your Dream Goals

Self-Sabotage Block #3: You don’t know where you want to be

self-sabotage - where you want to be

Can you answer that question? Seriously, can you clearly identify where you want to be in terms of geographical location and place in life at the point you reach success?

This is an important one and is necessary (as all the questions are) to give clarity to your vision of success. Figure that out as quickly as possible. Even if at first that vision is not completely clear. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Do you want to live in a tropical location, have a loving partner, 2 kids, and a dog?
  • Do you want to be in a lovely French villa hosting meditation retreats with a plethora of wildlife around you?

Some books that I recommend to better understand where you want to be are:

Self-Sabotage Block #4: You don’t know when you want to reach your goals

self-sabotage - when you want to reach your goal

Do you have timelines in mind to meet your goals? If not, get some! This means you need to take all of that negative mental chatter that’s been contributing to your self-sabotage and turn it off.

Start with the end in mind.

Do you want to meet one of your major goals in 6 months? 12 months? 18 months? 3 years? An important first step is to lay out each of your major goals and then map it to a timeframe of when you plan on reaching that goal.

This will help your mind to become geared towards the solution if bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Self-Sabotage Block #5: You don’t know why you’re going in circles

self-sabotage - understand the why

This is the most abstract question of them all. I don’t want you to dwell on this for too long but it’s worth some self-reflection. When you take a step back and really look at all of your patterns or behaviors of self-sabotage, close your eyes, take some deep breaths and ask “why”. Trust whatever answer comes to mind because it’s the beginning of uncovering a deeper answer.

For example, a failure from 5 years ago could be the main contributing factor as to why you are engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors today. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. These are all common reasons as to why self-sabotaging behaviors run rampant and unchecked in your life today. A very interesting book on understanding the why is Why Do I Do That?: Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives

So what are some of your self-sabotaging patterns and behaviors? Have you identified them? What are you doing to overcome them?

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Other blog posts to consider:

Overcoming Self-Sabotage: 3 Steps to Take Today
3 Steps to Getting Unstuck