07.01.19

The Self-Sabotaging Habits We’re Giving Up This Year

Faye Lessler

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve procrastinated on an important goal or looked in the mirror and told myself I’m not good enough to live my dreams. I bet you’ve experienced moments, too, where you’ve stood in the way of your own success or happiness.

Self-sabotaging behaviors come from a nasty inner voice, one that is always critical and very rarely constructive. That mean voice tells us that we aren’t thin enough, aren’t talented enough, that we’re too lazy, or that we’re going to fail anyway so we may as well just give up now.

Image via Adobe Stock

How to give up self sabotage

Unfortunately, these self-destructive behaviors cannot be fixed by external things like getting a good job or by someone else paying you a compliment. When you are your own harshest critic, then the only person who can pull you back up again is – yep, you guessed it – yourself.

The new year is a perfect time to start practicing the act of building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. As the previous year comes to a close, you may find that you are ready for a fresh start, a new year free from habits that prevent you from finding the success and happiness you deserve. As a Scorpio-moon who loves to reinvent herself, here are the three self-sabotaging habits I’m giving up in the new year.

1. THE SOCIAL MEDIA COMPARISON GAME

In the age of social media we are constantly exposed to the lives of others, but what we forget is that Instagram is just the highlight reel of someone else’s life, not the full picture. When we are shown curated feeds of our friends and role models jet-setting off to gorgeous destinations, toting the hottest new fashion trends, or zenning out with a luxurious spa day, we are simply seeing the parts of people’s lives that they feel excited to share.

Would you rather share a photo of yourself having a blast on vacation or one of you stressed out and un-showered in front of your laptop at 2 am? Yea, I would choose the vacation shot, too. It’s ok to display only the best parts of your life on social media, but don’t forget that’s what everyone else is doing, too! When we remember that everyone else has off days, we don’t feel so stressed about our own less-than-perfect moments.

One way to prevent yourself from playing the social media comparison game is to take a digital detox. Deleting the Instagram and Facebook apps off your phone for the first two weeks of the year is a great way to start fresh, without worrying about whether your new year is Insta-worthy or not. Or if you aren’t ready to quit cold-turkey, then using an app like SPACE (available on iPhone and Android) is a good start, helping you monitor and set limits on the amount of time you spend on social media.

Or just take Tina Fey’s advice!

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

2. PERFECTIONISM

The desire to be perfect or to produce perfect work can be a wonderful driver for creativity and innovation, but it can also debilitate you when you’re just starting an important project. Have you ever been in the beginning stages of a great project but found it impossible to start because you were so caught up in how you wanted the finished product to turn out? I’ve been right there with you.

When we have big dreams and aspirations, it’s easy to forget that success is never achieved in a day. Perfectionism makes us believe that to be successful; we must never fail. But so many successful people (particularly people in creative fields) will remind you that success is nothing but a series of failures. I think Ira Glass sums it up perfectly:

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years, you make stuff; it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you […] It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.”

Instead of obsessing over every single detail of every project, it’s better just to get the work done and keep working through that gap between your taste (aka your perfectionism) and your skill. It takes a lot of creating, risking, and failing before you will ever reach perfectionism – and by the time you get there, your taste will have probably changed already.

I plan on reminding myself that perfectionism does not equal success and vice versa. Another great way to forget about perfectionism is to break big tasks down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Have you ever heard of SMART goals? Setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals make it much easier just to get started, without worrying about being perfect.

3. NOT SAYING NO

Saying yes can lead to some fantastic life experiences – like that time I rode a motorcycle across Vietnam – but sometimes saying yes hurts us more than it helps us. Have you ever said yes to hanging out with someone just because you felt obligated to do so or agreed to do free work when you know you should have been getting paid?

Saying no is a muscle that takes a lot of exercising before it starts to feel comfortable.

You may have FOMO and feel like saying no means that you’re losing out on something exciting or important, or you may feel guilty for turning someone or something down. Facing those feelings and saying no anyway can be freeing. Saying no to drinks on a Tuesday might mean that you have more time to be well-rested and get ready to tackle a big project the next morning. Saying no to coffee with an acquaintance may free you up to go for drinks with your best friend, instead.

Learning to turn down people and opportunities is tough, but it gets easier once you become more in tune with your inner compass. Start by asking yourself “does this serve my goals or happiness?” the next time you have to say yes or no to someone. Just knowing what you are working towards and understanding what makes you truly happy will make it much easier to say no when you’re asked to do something that doesn’t serve you. And just remember, that for every ten no’s you give out, there is likely a big juicy ‘yes’ waiting for you!

Faye Lessler

Faye Lessler is a California born, New York City based advocate for holistic sustainable living. Faye is the author of sustainable lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life, and is passionate about supporting sustainable brands and making an ethical & eco-friendly lifestyle easier and more accessible for all. Faye is also a freelance writer, consultant, and the Events + Talent Manager for the Ethical Writers & Creatives. Sustaining Life has been featured in Glamour and NY Magazine and has collaborated with sustainability leaders Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Thinx, and Klean Kanteen.