I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I get in my own way and end up making my life more complicated than it needs to be – especially when it comes to my business.
I’ve worked with enough clients to know I’m not the only one who does this and not the only one who wonders what is happening.
Why do we put off doing a simple task that moves our business forward?
Why would we hesitate to send an invoice for our work?
Why would we continue to put ourselves in frustrating situations?
Of course, there are legitimate reasons for some hesitations and hiccups including needing another piece of information before moving forward, anxiety, not knowing how to talk about what we do, or a little bit of stage fright. But I’m not talking about those situations. I’m talking about the times we know we’re getting in our own way and let it happen anyway.
I’ve been thinking about self-sabotage and the different ways it manifests. For this blog post, I’ve broken them down by Thoughts, Financial, Business, and Personal. I have no doubt that there are many, many more ways self-sabotage can appear, but I wanted to focus on the four I mentioned because these are the ways I see it manifest in my clients’ lives.
I often work with new business owners who are just branching out for the first time or business owners ready to grow their business. They are excited, but nervous, and not sure where their business is going.
I hear statements like:
“I want to be busy, but not too busy.”
“What if I have too much business? Then what will I do?”
“I want to make money, but I don’t need a lot.”
“I don’t want to be one of those people who only cares about making money…”
On the surface, most of these statements sound plausible and worth considering. But if we dig a little deeper, we may find lurking insecurity and self-sabotage.
If you focus on not filling up your calendar or not making too much money (and who decides what that is, anyway?), you won’t be focused on finding clients and providing amazing service. You may hesitate to talk about your business out of fear of actually getting the clients you know you want. You may also have unspoken fears around not being able to meet goals you set. After all, if you don’t set any goals you can’t miss any goals, right?
If you feel weird about taking and having money, you will be less likely to value your work and charge accordingly. You may have stumbling blocks around money picked up from family, friends, popular culture, and personal experience that get in your way (its ok, most of us do!)
If you see someone who has money as someone you don’t want to be…then you won’t be working towards finding clients and getting money because you don’t want to turn into someone you won’t like.
And speaking of ways we practice financial self-sabotage, let’s dig a little deeper here.
This is the kind of self-sabotage that has a more clear and direct impact on your bottom line and may include:
Not sending invoices (or not pursuing overdue invoices)
Chronically undercharging for your work.
Not responding to client inquiries/keeping up with email
Not providing the level of care you think your clients deserve (and you want to give them)
I promise you that I’ve done every single one of these things at least once and so have many of my clients.
Two of my examples above are tied up in money stories and self-worth and valuing yourself – but I think they can still be self-sabotage because they can prevent others from wanting to work with you or bring you clients who aren’t the best fit for you.
Not taking care of your customers and not keeping up with email CAN be a symptom of taking on too much, not having enough time overall, and being overworked…BUT it can also be an insidious way for self-sabotage to creep into your routine.
Let’s talk more about taking on too much and being overworked. Why do we do that to ourselves? Sometimes it is simply luck that has us in a season of abundant clients and lots of work. Or maybe it is rooted in fear of not having clients and you take on everything – just in case.
How else do we sabotage ourselves in business?
This kind of self-sabotage can be easy to overlook...until you notice a pattern.
Running out of needed items because you didn’t get around to ordering more
Insisting that you can only work under certain conditions.
Holding back from launching or creating a new service/offer – especially if you could work on it and choose not to.
Trying not to be visible in your business (writing a blog post, posting on social media, etc.)
Running out of ink for printing once is an easy mistake, but if you are consistently forgetting to get ink (or paper or some other basic supply you need), take a look at why. How is it benefiting you to put yourself in that position over and over.
Everyone has a favorite way to work. Whether it is favorite music that helps you get in the groove or a favorite location – when everything aligns, you can get to work in a way that is perfect for you. However, that doesn’t always happen. If you find yourself avoiding work or believing that you can only work during the full moon when the lavender is in bloom…you’re either a werewolf or throwing up barriers.
Putting something new into the world and being vulnerable is a big scary task. When that is a new service, product, or offer it can be easy to keep putting it off until the right time. Again, there may be legitimate reasons to take your time when it comes to launching something new, but if you are stuck around *why* you can’t bring yourself to put it out there…maybe self-sabotage is at work.
Because our businesses can be an extension of ourselves, these business self-sabotages can start to feel intensely personal as they stir up all sorts of feelings and reactions.
Which brings us to my last example of ways we sabotage ourselves – in very personal ways.
You’re here to take over the world, and you can’t do that if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Not taking time for self-care
Spending so much time “recharging” that you fall behind)
Not eating properly
Not getting enough sleep
As small business owners we’re supposed to run our business (and manage all of the things that make up a small business), take care of our families, practice regular self care, and make it all Instagram worthy so we can show off how we manage it all.
Let’s forget making it pretty, and focus on making it real. Self-care looks like different things to different people – if a massage is what you need, make time for that. If a bath and a book is your thing, go for it. If the best you can do is go for a walk by yourself for ten minutes, do it.
However, if you notice yourself putting off self-care (in whatever form it looks like for you) when you know you can and should do it…you might be working against yourself.
On the other hand, if you find yourself making more time for your latest Netflix binge instead of the work you know you need to do maybe look at what you are avoiding doing and why.
The last two on my list – eating and sleeping – aren’t something you can skip, but you can do it poorly or not enough to the point of making yourself feel run down, tired, and even sick.
Clearly, self-sabotage has many components and pops up in many ways!
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.