5 Self Sabotaging Behaviors Getting In The Way Of Your Success

For a long time, I thought about starting a youtube channel. It seemed like a natural path for me. I had a degree in Broadcast Journalism, did a little acting when I was in college, was comfortable in front of the camera and communicating information in a way that made sense to people. I had the technical ability to film and edit video, and I loved doing it.

But for a long time—I sat on the idea.

I remember that day in 2015 when I discovered Shameless Maya, a youtuber that now has over a million followers. Her video had been suggested to me, and for whatever reason I clicked on it. I sat at my computer in awe of this video, the opening line of her voice over,  “What would happen if I shamelessly promoted myself ?” The video thoughtfully laid out her experience, how her quest of self exploration and her bold decision to take a chance on herself changed her life forever.

That video changed my outlook too. What would happen if I took a leap of faith in my own life? What would happen if I gave myself a real chance?

In 2016, I finally took the leap and filmed my first video. I was so proud, and after that I made a few more videos. I started to gather momentum. It was an exciting time in my life. But unfortunately, it didn’t last. My life got busy, I made excuses and I eventually stopped making content. I tried to make a “comeback” but ultimately I did not make 2016 or 2017 count when it came to youtube.

At the close of 2017, I was reflecting on my life and what I wanted to do to improve.  When I thought about my work, it boiled down to connecting with better clients for my freelance work, this blog, and youtube. I came to the conclusion that I had been getting in my own way. I wasn’t giving myself a chance. I wasn’t believing in myself.

Enter 2018.

While the year is still new, I have made a commitment to avoid self sabotaging behavior. So far so good, but it is a task I have to consistently work on.

Self Sabotaging Behavior

Often times, when posed with the question “Why aren’t you successful” or “Why aren’t you hitting your goals?” we are quick to point the finger. My boss doesn’t pay me enough. My kids did this (or that). No one will give me a chance.The list goes on. While those may be valid points, it doesn’t remove our role in how our lives play out.

Most times, we miss the opportunity to think about what we are contributing to our lack of success.  What self sabotaging behavior are we exhibiting in our lives? We don’t consider how we are getting in our own way.

When we engage self sabotaging behavior, we are cutting ourselves short, stifling our dreams and our potential. I’ve come to the belief that this is where the majority of our work lies as business owners , freelancers, and soloprenuers. It’s more of a mental game then most like to let on.

So if we want our business and life to thrive, it’s our responsibility to do the personal work required. We’ll need to do whatever we can to identify self sabotaging behavior and eradicate it.

I want to share some of my self sabotaging behaviors in the hopes that it may help you figure out some of your own.


While fear is technically an emotion, it is an emotion that causes us to change our behavior, so for that reason it is first on my list. Fear is the killer of dreams. The ultimate self sabotaging behavior. Think about the last time you were scared. What did you do? Were you able to work or concentrate? Most importantly, were you free to create or dream about your future? Fear grounds us in the present, because we are consumed with it at that very moment. Even if you are scared about the future (something I do often) you are still chaining yourself to the present because you aren’t able to see past it in that moment of fear.

When we give into it, fear stops you from pushing for that dream job, pitching that client, taking risks and pretty much anything you can think of. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves as business owners is to get comfortable with the idea that we will experience fear fairly often.  We shouldn’t expect it to go away (it won’t) we’ll need to learn to manage it.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

We’ll have to come to terms with the fact that it will rear it’s ugly head when we least need it. Fear is our uninvited and unwelcome guest, we just have to take it along for the ride.

When we look back on our lives, we don’t want to remember the chances we didn’t take, the dreams we didn’t fulfill, the life we didn’t get to have because we were too afraid to even try. What are we really afraid of? Success? Accountability? Responsibility? Why are we afraid of these things? Ask yourself the tough questions. Because time stops for no one, and we are here to do something with our lives.

Not Believing In Yourself

A cliche notion, but a real problem nonetheless. At the heart of every successful person, is someone who believed they had something to offer. That belief propelled them to push through the downfalls, it is part of the foundation that made them successful. Now I will say, that I’m not of the belief that “believing in yourself” is set in stone. I think we all go through waves of self doubt, but I do believe that overall, our believing in yourself is paramount.

For me, believing in yourself is not a singular concept. It means that you don’t just believe in what you can offer today, but also what you can offer tomorrow. So if you are feeling doubt because you aren’t where you want to be right now, trust in the fact that you can work to achieve it. Most of the time, all we need is a little more knowledge, experience, and stronger network. We should aim to adopt a “not yet” mentality in life. Instead of saying, “I’m not there” or “I can’t” we should think, “I’m not there yet.” or “I can’t yet” It will make a huge difference in how we tackle goals.

Listening to Naysayers

I have quiet a few naysayers in my life. And despite the taboo, I find that I sometimes listen to them. This is a huge no no, but we have to be honest with ourselves. If you find yourself listening to a naysayer, someone who has no expertise in your field or what you are trying to do, someone who is just offering negativity for no reason, ask yourself why. What I found is that i’m more willing to listen to these people when I don’t have fear or believing in myself sorted out.  It’s pretty easy to get on the self sabotaging boat when you are afraid and in self doubt. It’s not that far of a jump to think  you can’t do it.

Please don’t listen to the naysayers in your life! Realize that the reason you are entertaining them is simply because of some other reason, not because what they are saying is true. Almost every successful person had one of these pesky people in their lives, and the funny thing is, once you have proven them wrong, they are often the same people touting that they “believed in you all along”. People are fickle, ignore them.

Not Aiming To Perfect Your Craft (or Learn)

We can be of no service to anyone, if we don’t continue to learn and grow. We should make it our business to know what is going on in our field(s) of choice. We should work to get better, practice and look at our work with a critical eye. This not only adds value, it will also build your confidence. The more you progress in your craft, the more comfortable you are in it. This will make our clients very happy as you will be able to deliver exactly what they are looking for.

Even if it’s not for your business or career, learning something new is always valuable. You could learn how to make a new recipe, or do your own makeup (i’m in the process of doing this as we speak) and really almost anything. Learning is growing, and not taking the time to learn will hurt your business, career and your quality of life.


Inevitably, all of these things lead to the ultimate success killer. Procrastination.

The more you procrastinate, the more time you have to talk yourself out of it.

Time waits for no one. While we are busy being scared, not believing in ourselves,  listening to naysayers, and not learning, time is getting away from us. I wasted 2 years of potential progess on my youtube channel. Arguably more if you count all the years I didn’t do anything. This is not to say that everything has to be done right this second. I am a firm believer in proper execution of an idea, but there is a huge difference between actively planning and procrastination. When you find yourself procrastinating, think about the self sabotaging behaviors above and ask yourself if that is why. It’s also important to remember that procrastination not only wastes your time, but also the time of the people that could benefit from what you offer!

Keeping it in the back of your mind is not good enough. Time is a reality of our existence, and we should never want to waste it.


Self sabotaging behavior is something that will creep into our lives if we let it. It’s a constant monster that we will need to fight in order to realize our vision. With life, it’s often the mental game people aren’t able to overcome. This life we’ve chosen isn’t going to be easy, but nothing worth value is ever is. The beauty of our existence is that we have the opportunity to change.

I challenge all of you to look at the self sabotaging behavior in your life. Figure out the things that you want to achieve but haven’t yet and dig deep. Find out what is getting in your way, more often than not, it’s you.

Olivia J

Olivia J is a video producer, writer, and director specializing in corporate video, events, documentaries and film. To see some of her work visit oliviaj.me