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Keep Tab on Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

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Entrepreneurial Mindset Series (EMS)

We self-sabotage all the time, whether in business or in other aspects of life. There are countless examples of some of the things we do to sabotage ourselves. Examples could be picking a fight with a spouse or friend for the flimsiest reasons; getting drunk the night before resuming at a new workplace; not studying hard for a sales call or a test; missing an audition, etc.

Defining Self-Sabotage
Self-sabotage is to cause yourself to be derailed from a goal, often at the last moment before a success. Self-sabotage could be conscious or unconscious. The common denominator however is that a decision has to be made either to do or to not do something.

Self-sabotage is reflected when we go, “I can’t do this”, and we back down from doing it. Or when we feel we’re not ready for something big. For a business, it is very obvious. It sets an entrepreneur on the downward spiral – he stops being innovative; customer service becomes secondary; he hires the same kind of employees that won’t bring anything new into the business, all because they fit into a particular culture or image of the company. When an entrepreneur becomes bland, mundane and ordinary in operations, evidenced by complacency, then self-sabotage is at the root of it.

Why do People Self-Sabotage?

“Action springs out, not from thoughts but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


This fear is not necessarily fear of success as being commonly offered, but of taking responsibility. We hear it all the time that money is evil because some wealthy people are calculating and cold in their dealings with people. So, some easily shy away from actions that could propel them into wealth because they don’t want to be seen as evil. Rather, the fact is money comes with responsibilities. Decisions need to be made after becoming successful. Many are afraid of the responsibilities that success brings. Some don’t even want to be seen to have money. And if you’re like that, you can’t have money for too long.

Fear of failure or success leads to self-sabotage. For an entrepreneur, it isn’t easy to keep a business going. The statistics against start-ups aren’t favorable either. Most start-ups are said to go under in the first five years of business. So, many entrepreneurs fail to take risks because they don’t want to fail, and they end up failing anyways!

That is not to say, however, that fear does not have a place in human life. There are situations when fear is an appropriate response. For example, when there’s a fire outbreak, it is perfectly logical to respond in fear. But as an entrepreneur, if you have to meet a client and you fail to appear because you are afraid of what they’d think about you, then you are self-sabotaging.


Procrastination is very natural with even the best of us. It is so easy to postpone or delay what has to be done, for something else that sounds good enough or for something that seems more urgent. People often delay writing a book, starting a course, reading a book, drawing an image, etc. for very trivial reasons. Entrepreneurs delay tax filing, staff training, and other beneficial actions.
When you find yourself constantly engaging in a limiting behavior, then that’s self-sabotaging.


You trust no one but YOU to do the job right. You have to be the one to make this and that decision. It just has to be you. Decisions are delayed by staff when you aren’t around.
Sometimes, it is necessary. But the question to ask yourself is: “Is my way of managing things based on fear?” Perhaps you have a fear of losing, fear of failure, fear of success, etc.
You should try to make decisions based on facts, goals and how to achieve them and not on feelings such as fear or emotions. Feelings are not valid enough to base our decisions and actions on.

Top 5 ways to defeat self-sabotage

  • Pay attention to what you’re thinking.
  • Become aware of yourself and how you react to situations.
  • Deal with the beliefs that are not serving you; it is important. Identify those limiting behaviors. Show up as authentic as possible.
  • Go beyond your limitations. Be more intentional about taking decisions that will stretch you beyond your comfort zone. In other words, be more daring.
  • To achieve all points raised in 1-4, you need a coach. A coach will help you optimize yourself and set you on the journey of self-discovery and self-actualization.

    The Final Word
    You need to realize what is at the root of your self-sabotage. Oftentimes, it is based on the need to please others or to conform to a certain image and standard we believe others prefer of us. It is best to show up as authentic as you can. You owe no one an explanation for being your true self.

This article was developed from episode 128 of The Immigrant Life Podcast

Note. All or most of the views expressed here are those of Dapo Bankole, Founder, The Immigrant Life and Jess Huffman, Entrepreneurial Coach and Mentor to countless entrepreneurs.

Written by Yinka Bakare.

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