Reach Your Business Goals: How To Avoid Self-Sabotaging Behaviour

A hot topic with our clients right now is the concept of sabotaging your own goal. While ‘sabotage’ means to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct something, it’s not something we business owners do on purpose. But many of us do have self-sabotaging behaviours that, if not controlled, can prevent us from achieving our goals.  

As well as stopping us from reaching our goals, self-sabotaging behaviour can make us less committed altogether.

Catherine is looking at common behaviours among business owners and how, with the right mindset and strategy in place, you can reach your goals.

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Listen to the podcast here or continue reading below. 

Finding your financial identity

A classic example of self-sabotaging behaviour can be seen in people who want to improve their fitness levels or lose weight. It’s a common goal for many, but often people stick with old habits instead of following a new exercise regime or choosing healthier foods - things that will likely help them achieve their goal.

This is just as true in business, where money can be a real trouble area and a source of frustration for many. In our experience, this is especially true for people who have been employed in the past and go on to run their own business.

A business could be doing well, with money and revenue flowing in each month, but many business owners become frustrated when there isn’t enough money to support their lifestyle on top of running the company.

There can be a few reasons for this and things to be mindful of so you don’t fall into the same trap. The first is to be aware of your previous reference structure. Sometimes, we get too used to a particular income; our mind sets the bar and we keep working and playing within that framework. Unconsciously, our behaviours or strategies that we use within the business keep us there because we don’t move to expand our possibilities our belief structure.

It’s normal to want to move through different thresholds of income and profit in business, but it can be difficult to do so. Each level of profitability begins with an upgrade in your beliefs and identity. Without that, you can’t expect to be able to reach the level of business success you’re chasing.

Don’t play the blame game

Another common self-sabotaging behaviour that often crops up when we don’t hit the level of success we want to is blaming ourselves and others for not being where we think we should be. All blame does is create more frustration and stops you from thinking clearly. Yes, there may be some things you need to change, but if you’re too busy placing blame, you won’t be able to find the cause or understand exactly what you need to change.

While there may be beliefs, ways of thinking, strategies, actions, and self-talk that keep you at the same level rather than moving upwards, a number of issues can taint your mindset and stop you from achieving your goals.

For example: the business is doing well, the revenue is growing but profit is not moving forward. In that case, you may need to look at strategy. Where is the money going? Is there more expense going out than there is coming in? More importantly, it’s your mindset that you bring to the business, or any situation in life, that is at the root of success.

Learning from experience

Think back to a time when you’ve set yourself a goal, whether it’s in business or personal life. Did you actually achieve it? Or did you feel like you were going round in circles and nothing ever happened?

There are a number of reasons for this. Like, simply not having any real frame of reference or strategies for how to achieve the goal. Your experiences in life provide skills, strategies and ways of thinking that create the results you currently have.

In order to achieve different results, your ways of thinking, beliefs, strategies and motivation need to be aligned. They need to be congruent with what you want to achieve as opposed to what you’ve achieved up until now, which requires a different mindset.

Find your motivation

Another major common setback is not having clear goals. It’s useful to really think about how achieving your goal would affect all areas of your life.

Unless you have a clear vision of what it means to achieve your goal, it will be very difficult to keep your attention focused on your goal, or to get the momentum necessary to achieve it.

So, think more deeply about the real motivation for you. What value will achieving your goal give you? What is it about your goal and the desired outcome that gets you out of bed in the morning?

If your goals are linked to a deep core value - that inner drive - the motivation will come more naturally. Your goal and the actions you need to take to reach it will become more inspiring and you will naturally move strategically towards the goal.

Redirect your attention to where you want to be

Your thoughts and self-talk can also ‘sabotage’ your goals. It’s important to pay attention to the way you speak to yourself to recognise when you might be contradicting or conflicting with your own values and abilities.

I took notice of this myself recently on a skiing trip in Europe. I and my small group were guided down steep terrain. Most of the people in my group baulked and stopped and I reacted with anxiety and hesitation. When I noticed my negative thoughts and feelings, I was able to take control of my breath, calm the hesitancy and talk myself through the situation so I was realigned with my goal of getting to the bottom.

By redirecting my attention, I was able to keep it there and was then able to think clearly, reassuring myself that I knew what to do if it got too steep or I felt unsafe. It was quite enlightening; I then realised what I tend to do in business and other areas of my life when the environment suddenly changes or obstacles are thrown my way.

A state of fear

The next time you find yourself moving away from your goals ask yourself where your attention needs to be. Whichever environment you’re in, you have the skills to be able to move through it, but when you panic or let fear overtake, you can’t access them.

It is not neurologically possible to be able to think clearly and efficiently and access your executive functioning, problem solving and effective planning strategy part of your brain if you've allowed yourself to go into a state of fear.

To be able to shift that state to move your attention from survival mode and amygdala hijack mode, you need to calm it down by taking slow, deep breaths. As an adult, you probably need ten slow, deep breaths to move the state, to calm the adrenaline and cortisol in your body.

Follow in successful footsteps

Setting up goals for the future is all very well, but if you have no skills or previous experience of achieving your goals, what do you know to be true?

Having a role model who has achieved the same or a similar goal to yours will help you focus your attention. Imagine stepping into their shoes and think about how they would approach their goal. What do they believe? How do they think? You’ll soon notice what’s possible when you have a different mindset. It can also be helpful to think about how they might perceive you and looking at what you identify with.

If it's improving your business, then being that successful businessperson, that highly magnetic business owner, may be the identity you need to start practising seeing yourself as. You need to learn to think of yourself as more than capable of achieving your goals rather than less than capable.

So find someone who has a strategy that works to achieve what you want and find out what steps they put in place. It can be useful as it allows less trial and error and more likelihood of success. But ensure that you can build a frame of reference, and begin to notice and imagine yourself achieving, thinking, feeling, and talking to yourself in the way that someone who has achieved your goal would.

Imagine your achievements

You might also find it useful to spend some time each morning imagining you are experiencing the success you are wanting; think about the affects achieving your goal would have on you, your relationships, your health, your wellbeing, your bank accounts, your team, your family and your sense of self.  

More importantly, to achieve your goal you need to give up any idea that you are purposely sabotaging your goals and stop beating yourself up because you haven’t got there yet. Instead, allow yourself to realise that maybe the strategy you’re using isn’t the right one.

Clarity over your destination makes it much easier to reach it, and at the end of the day, achieving your goal depends on you. You can make corrections along the way if you need to; if your actions lead to a result you weren’t expecting, change the action, change the strategy and encourage yourself.

With the right mindset and strategies in place, you can achieve your goals and get to where you want to be.


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Clarity over your destination makes it much easier to reach it, and at the end of the day, achieving your goal depends on you. With the right mindset and strategies in place, you can get to where you want to be. #MindMatters #Success

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