At a Glance: Keep your habits and self-talk positive by identifying and eliminating negative statements and procrastinating tendencies.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Without realizing it, and as much as you don’t want to, you may be holding yourself back from achieving your dreams.

Amy Lindgren, syndicated career columnist and author of “I’d Rather Be Working,” shares six common ways we sabotage ourselves—and how we can flip those tendencies into wins.


Not taking yourself seriously

People can spend years saying noncommittal things like, “I think I should go back to school.”

Flip it: Reframe your words and reframe your commitment. Say, “I’m planning to go back to school.” Taking yourself seriously actually makes change happen.


Letting lesser commitments limit higher goals

If you sweat the small stuff, you’ll lose sight of the big dreams. It’s important to realize if lower-priority commitments are blocking you from reaching a larger goal.

Flip it: Create a measurable goal, such as getting a better job title or completing your degree. If your goal is tangible and measurable you can figure out what you need to do to achieve it. This also makes it easier to set aside smaller obligations that are getting in your way.


Not changing habits to accommodate goals

If you have a serious goal in mind, but you still find yourself staying up until midnight every night watching old TV reruns, you’re likely in a bad habit rut.

Flip it: Create a replacement habit. Habit forming and habit breaking actually happen in the same part of your brain. If you replace a bad habit (watching TV reruns) with a new habit (posting weekly required comments in your classroom forum) you’ll have an easier time moving forward. If you can’t completely give up those reruns, at least make yourself work for them by implementing a rule for yourself that you must post at least one comment before flipping on the TV.


Framing the problem in a negative way

Do you say things like “I can’t get that job because I’m too old” or “I can’t ever catch a lucky break.”

Flip it: Edit your internal monologue. Instead ask, “How can I get that job even though I am older?” or say to yourself, “Who needs luck when you’re as hard of a worker as I am?”


Seeking approval

When we feel like we aren’t worth it—whatever “it” is—we tend to want to please those we believe have “it.” We turn to our mentors for a pat on the back or a shoulder to cry on instead of advice.

Flip it: Ask, “What should I do?” not, “What do you think?” Then take the advice of your mentors and do it. Oh, and be confident in your decisions.


Not trusting the process

Achieving a big dream can take a long time. When we don’t believe it will ever happen, we seek our gratification in other, quicker places.

Flip it: Have trust in yourself and your plan. If you hit a wall, it might make sense to slow down for a minute, but it doesn’t make sense to sit down at the bottom and just look up. Do whatever you can. Write the outline for the your next paper. Make a to-do list for the day, week or month. But definitely make sure you do something.

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