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Tips to Overcome Self-Sabotage

Mindy McHorse

Have you ever wondered if you’re sabotaging your own success?

I ask because it’s something most creative people do at one point or another. I’ve certainly been guilty of it from time to time.

It’s on my mind thanks to an eye-opening chat with Ilise Benun the other day. Ilise is known as the “Marketing Mentor” and focuses her trainings on creative people. (I interviewed her for the upcoming March issue of Barefoot Writer; make sure you grab your copy when it’s out.)

During our chat, Ilise told me about several common mistakes made by people who run creative businesses for profit.

I was appalled to find I could relate to just about all the mistakes. And I know a lot of other writers who are just as guilty. Maybe you can relate to some of them …

  • Not following up on potential contacts that could lead to projects.
  • Letting clutter pile up so it masks the things you really want to do.
  • Not taking breaks when you’re stuck on something and instead pounding your head against the problem till you’re so stressed out you want to explode
  • Submitting things at the last minute so you run out of time to improve it and do your best
  • Engaging in unhealthy behaviors like not getting enough sleep or eating poorly so you don’t feel well enough to try hard
  • Constantly worrying you’re a fraud and you’re going to get fired and forgotten

These are all classic signs of self-sabotage.

A lot of it comes down to not thinking you deserve success. So you sabotage your “best” efforts. The result lets fear drive your actions, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m not going to preach about organizing your office or calling to follow-up on every lead you get.

But I will say this: One of the best ways to overcome self-sabotage is to take advantage of the perks that come along with freelancing and let yourself enjoy the ride.

So maybe stop in the middle of your writing and go for a walk. Take a shower. Daydream a little. Read things for pleasure.

When you’re constantly stressed about learning more and making money, your verve for life starts to wither. That shrinks your drive to grow and learn and be creative. And that shrinks your ability to meet your opportunities head-on.

You can also break your tasks into small, doable chunks. Or use positive affirmations and meditations. Or set up a mini-cheering squad made of close friends or family members.

One thing that works for me is to indulge in pleasure before taking on whatever challenge or opportunity I’m nervous about. Most people use pleasure as a reward after the hurdle is conquered, but I prefer the reverse, and it seems to help.

Try it both ways and see what works. (And tell me about it below.)

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Published: March 3, 2016

12 Responses to “Tips to Overcome Self-Sabotage”

  1. Mindy, I needed this wise advice today... a ray of sunshine. Practical and well-put. Thank you.


    Guest (Mike)March 3, 2016 at 12:34 pm

  2. Mindy, Very well timed; experiencing all of them, especially "discouragement",a new feeling for me. Pushing through,though. Could use cheerleading.. Thanks,..

    enmarcMarch 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm

  3. Thanks for sharing, Mindy. It’s good to know that it’s not just me having these thoughts and committing these errors. I’m grateful that I now recognize the enemy of my success. It’s time to start defeating these giants!

    Cheryl WilliamsMarch 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm

  4. I've tried both ways, but if I block out the time to write,then reward myself (Pre-ward?), I feel a sense of obligation to follow through. I suppose it's similar to being payed in advance for a job.

    Afterward, I simply relax.

    Old Man FotrMarch 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

  5. I usually try to get daily tasks done first so I'm not thinking, "I should be doing that instead of this", then I can sit down and write without feeling guilty.

    Kim SmythMarch 3, 2016 at 6:53 pm

  6. I'm a real estate appraiser, which is business to consumer writing, but it is a creative endeavor, believe it. When I become "eye-tired," which is about every 15 minutes, I simply get out of my chair, walk to the kitchen, look into the frig, sniff a couple times, and walk back to my chair, sit down and proceed, refreshed. Next time, I'll get up, walk over to the dog's toy box, pick out a toy, toss it with him retrieving a few times, return to my desk and whammo! Inspiration! This goes on all daylong, and believe me, I get a lot done.

    Guest (Kevin Vaught)March 3, 2016 at 8:38 pm

  7. Hi, As I read your lists I related to most of it. But the last one I realize has kept me from actually contacting potential prospects. Because I worry that I'm not really able to call myself a copy writer yet. That I won't be able to provide the quality I would expect.


    Sarah FMarch 3, 2016 at 8:58 pm

  8. I'm a kook,see negative internal dialogue. Taking a walk on the beach and collecting just the particular rocks and shells in looking for or taking a long workout swim board kayak run gets me in that zen buzzy Place. Used up physical energy good clear mental energy. Again I'm a barny, saving up my allowance for excelerated copy writing oop there's the bell out for recess. Thanx Mindy

    Guest (NSShoemaker)March 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm

  9. The absolute WORST way we can sabotage the margins whence our creativity goes unrewarded is not getting paid enough.

    When clients don't pay, I say: "Gee. Had I known you weren't gonna pay, I'd've gladly charged MUCH more."

    This way, my humor's at least the added "pong" without which my creative edge's never stuck on a dopey "ping." And that constancy precluding completion duly anathematizes being unduly undersold.

    Guest (Chris Morris)March 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

  10. Hi Mindy, I agree with the pre-ward. Especially if it is something that makes you feel strong. Acting in plays and teaching zumba builds my confidence and is part of the reason I want to write, so doing those things, even before I've 'made it' can only improve my writing business.

    MichellekMarch 4, 2016 at 10:06 am

  11. Thank you so much for this article! I am not feeling alone anymore, but encouraged due to the great suggestions. Thanks again!

    Patricia ZelmJuly 18, 2016 at 9:26 am

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