Have you ever made life harder for yourself than necessary? Here are five ways we sabotage our time, focus, joy, and self-respect. Fortunately with a bit of intention and practice, all five are easy to fix.
- Taking on burdens that belong to someone else: your relatives, for example, or your friends, kids, and co-workers. Better: Remind yourself, "Who owns the problem?" Start handing over the reins—you'll have more energy for the concerns that are yours.
- Arguing for your limitations. Here's a minor example: I used to tell myself, "I always end up in the longest line." I became well-versed in defending that belief. And not surprisingly, I spent a lot of time waiting in long grocery lines, tapping my foot and rolling my eyes.
Finally I started affirming, I always pick the shortest line. Just to see if it made a difference. It has. Maybe there's some truth to that line from Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can or or think you can't, you're right."
What limitations are you holding on to? What would happen if you started telling yourself something more constructive instead? My guess is your friends would rejoice and your enemies would eat their hearts out. ;-) You would probably also start seeing new and different results.
- Justifying decisions profusely. Few things are more difficult or more gratifying than stating our position politely, and keeping explanations brief. Some matters require no explanation. The more we explain, the more we invite rebuttal. Better: When your mind is made up, avoid lengthy explanations.
- Using words like "try" or "strive." Years ago, when a friend of mine was running for office, a mutual friend with a good sense of humor suggested as a campaign slogan, "I'll try not to mess up." (!) He was obviously kidding and had license to do so. But the point is, those who depend on us don't need us to try—they need us to do and to do our best. When there's something you want or need to accomplish, look for ways to eliminate "hedge" words like try or strive.
Rise above the all-too-human tendency toward self-sabotage. You'll feel better, you'll get more done, and you'll wonder how you ever settled for anything less.