Do You Sabotage Your Own Success?

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You are scared because you want it. You are scared because you know you have the chance to be amazing. You are scared because it means something to you. This is your brain weighing risk and reward. Take the reward.

By Kelly Studer (Career Stylist, Kelly Studer Consulting)

Not that long ago, I was lined up to speak on a panel to 100+ people when the organizer called and asked me if I’d be willing to give the keynote speech. They came to me with this request only 8 days before the event, so I assumed they were only asking me because no one else would do it and they were desperate. How could they possibly want little ole me to give the keynote?

Within minutes, my inner saboteur started to voice her concerns: “You aren’t qualified to give a keynote! What if you make a fool of yourself? Your credibility will go down the drain, along with your business.”

To justify that delivering this keynote was a bad idea, I sought out the counsel of others whom I knew would tell me I couldn’t possibly prepare a great talk in such a short amount of time. Was any of this true? Sadly, I would never find out. I passed on the opportunity.

When I watched my replacement give the keynote, I thought to myself “Oh man! I so could have knocked that out of the park!” Darn it. All that worry and self-sabotage amounted to me not taking an amazing opportunity.

For many of us, self-sabotage plays out regularly in our careers and daily lives.

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for our talents and potential, and we give up before we have even had a chance to try.

Sometimes, even when we manage some margin of success, we feel the praise we receive is false and undeserved and instead focus on the criticisms that justify our self-sabotage.

This way of thinking is the easy way out, a cop-out from having to face the wilting humiliation of failure. By thinking and acting this way, we deny others and ourselves the benefits of our brilliance and amazing potential.

You have to recognize when that fear creeps in (signal: your inner critic gets pretty loud and obnoxious) and then understand how to overcome it. The greatest opportunities stir up feelings of excitement and possibility, yet are tinged with anxiety and nervousness. This is a good thing; nervousness tells you when something it is important to you.

Here’s my super simple process for avoiding self-sabotage. All you need to do is ask yourself these 3 questions when a great opportunity or challenge arises:

Question #1 – Does it feel right?

These opportunities give you butterflies in your stomach. You are giddy, at times both light headed or nauseous. This is your gut telling you that it’s right.

Question #2 – Does it scare me?

You are scared because you want it. You are scared because you know you have the chance to be amazing. You are scared because it means something to you. This is your brain weighing risk and reward. Take the reward.

Question #3 – Will I regret not trying?

Picture yourself doing exactly what you do now, watching someone else take this opportunity. Does it feel crappy? Now, picture yourself taking this opportunity and giving it everything you’ve got. Looks pretty great, right?

If you answer YES to all three questions, then you know what you have to do. Go for it!

Sure, you might fail. You’ll also learn that failing shows you had the courage to try, pick yourself up, and try again. Trust yourself, and know that you only really fail by not taking a chance at all.

Women 2.0 readers: How have you identified and circumvented a situation of self-sabotage in the past? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Kelly Studer is a Career Stylist at Kelly Studer Consulting, transforming careers and images for ambitious, career-minded professionals and executives at Fortune 500 companies and startups. Kelly brings 15+ years of experience at some of the world’s best companies (Google, Salesforce.com, Sapient, and Accenture) to her clients, defining their personal brand in order to transform their professional presence and image to match. Obtaining that elusive “executive presence” is one of her specialties