10 ways you sabotage yourself when setting goals

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Is fear hold you back from changing your life? Do you sabotage yourself when setting goals? Learn to deal with common blocks that may stop you setting or following through on your goals. 

The process of changing your lifestyle is often scary. You don’t really know what you’re letting yourself in for.

Sometimes it all seems too hard. So you avoid thinking about what you really want, and then find yourself not setting effective goals.

Sabotaging yourself when setting goals

We’ll look at 10 common issues that stop many people from effective goal setting. 

1 Lack of self-belief
2 Fear of stress
3 Unrealistic expectations
4 Fear of disappointment
5 Fear of success
6 Comparing yourself to others
7 Fear of disapproval
8 Fear of uncertainty
9 Being inflexible
10 Being impatient

Interestingly, all of them are driven by unhelpful ways of thinking. Negative thoughts and negative ways of talking to yourself can really derail your efforts to change.

Being aware of these unhelpful thought patterns is the first step to modifying them. So be proactive and learn how to tap into your negative self-talk.  

Gaining control of your self-critical thoughts will help overcome the ways you sabotage yourself when setting goals.

So what are some of the ways that negative thinking sends goal setting off track?

1 Lack of self-belief

You don’t know what you want in life, or whether you really deserve it anyway.

Everything you’ve done so far seems to have been a bit of a failure. You’ve never lived up to your own or others’ expectations. And you don’t believe you can learn the skills that you may need to reach your goals.

So you tell yourself not to bother because you’ll just get it wrong.

Most things you’ve tried so far have failed. Why should this be any different?

2 Fear of stress

Your daily schedule is already jam-packed. How can you add any more goals to what you have to do? You’re scared you’ll be so stressed, that you’ll lose emotional balance.

3 Unrealistic expectations

Rather than fearing failure, you do the opposite. You expect yourself to succeed all the time. Anything short of perfection isn’t good enough.

But you won’t accept help from anyone out of pride. You can’t bear others to think that you’re not perfect, or that you struggle to reach goals you’ve set for yourself.

You feel as if you should be able to do it all on your own, no matter how much it takes out of you.

But the mountain seems so high to climb, that sometimes you just can’t make yourself start.

4 Fear of disappointment

In the past perhaps you got excited about your goals. But when you didn’t succeed as you’d expected, you were massively disappointed. Even only partly reaching your goals was distressing.

Now you don’t want to risk getting excited again. You tell yourself you can’t bear to be disappointed again. You’d rather stay in your comfort zone.

Being bored seems a better alternative than suffering that terrible disillusionment again.

5 Fear of success

Your mind leaps ahead to worrying about what will happen if actually reach all your goals. How much pressure will you or others put on your shoulders to keep on succeeding?

You can’t stomach the thought of the constant stress that this would involve. So you delay putting your goals into practice – or even worse, deliberately do badly.

6 Comparing with others

When you look around at so-called successes, they seem to achieve what they want effortlessly.

So you think that this is how it should be. You should be able to reach your goals without too much trouble.

But you’ve always had to struggle to get anywhere. And no one else seems to struggle the way you do.

So you must be the one with the problems. You’re never going to make it the way others do. Therefore, isn’t it easier not to bother setting any goals at all?

7 Fear of disapproval

Perhaps you’re worried others will laugh at your goals. Or they’ll be annoyed or critical that you want to change. Again it’s easier to avoid the whole issue by not bothering. 

Even if you’ll be dissatisfied in the long run, the fear of criticism or rejection is greater than your desire to change your life.

8 Fear of uncertainty

Making changes in your life means you’re going to take a step into the unknown. But you hate not knowing what’s going to happen or what you need to do. You worry you won’t cope if your plans go off course.

The continual uncertainty causes you too much stress. You’d rather do something guaranteed to succeed 100% of the time.

So you stay in your comfort zone and avoid change.

9 Being inflexible

You don’t like your plans being thrown out by day-to-day hassles. You believe life should go according to plan, without any inconvenience. Not only that, you should reach your goals smoothly without disruption or headaches.

Adapting is hard when you run your life according to fixed rules of how things should be. You get easily irritated or frustrated when circumstances change. Any changes seem to be for the worse, and therefore unacceptable.

So it’s easier to stick with what you know, and to avoid setting any further goals.

10 Being impatient

Being impatient to reach your goals is understandable. But being in too much of a hurry can be counterproductive. You can cut corners and not do what’s needed. Skipping out steps will make progress harder later on. 

And you may not take the time to set SMART goals. This in itself will make it much harder to succeed at reaching your goals. 

Stop sabotaging yourself when setting goals

How many of these blocks to setting effective goals did you identify with? Make a quick note of them for future reference.

Then ask yourself: Are you serious about making changes, no matter how small, in your life?

If you are, you’ll need to come to grips with what is stopping you from setting and following through on your goals.

Learn how you can you overcome sabotaging yourself when setting goals

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