Too often, the biggest speed bump that slows momentum in your career is self-sabotage. What is self-sabotage? It’s when we work against our own best interests. Self-sabotage can happen to anyone. It is not a flaw; it is something your subconscious does to keep you safe and in your comfort zone.
It’s important to be aware of self-defeating behaviors. They can appear in many forms, some more obvious than others. It’s essential to keep your mindset intact. For example, in a new role, self-sabotage can mean that you don’t make a great first impression or you ignore the early warning signs that you and your boss or your team may not be in alignment.
Breaking Down PJSD
After coaching hundreds of clients, I believe there is something that contributes to a higher incidence of self-sabotage for those who are in a full-time job search or after landing when you have had a gap in your career. I call it PJSD – Prior Job Stress Disorder!
PJSD can make you come to the worst possible conclusions, cause you to overreact, and it can cause flashbacks to consequences that you incurred in your last role that can impact your behavior in your next role.
Let’s look at a few examples of this.
If you outperformed and over delivered in your last role and still found yourself on the outside looking in, PJSD can cause you to overreact to a 90-day review that is 99% positive and mentions one small area for improvement.
Another case—no matter how many late hours you put into a presentation — no matter how perfect it was — no matter how well it hit the mark — your manager always found a way to poke holes in it. It was never good enough.
Or in your job search, constantly coming in second makes you question all your accomplishments in your last role. This leads to one of the most common and destructive mantras of self-talk that leads to self-sabotage — “I’ll never find another role,” and that makes you procrastinate about all of your job search activities.
The common theme here is fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, and fear of leaving your comfort zone.
This quote by Matt Luigi sums it up:
This fear often leads to adjusting your behavior and leaving your authentic self behind.
But your authentic self isn’t fearful. It is when you go into an interview or into a new role behaving in a way that you think others want you to behave that you sabotage yourself and lose your power. Your authentic self is the most powerful version of you.
Defeat Self-Sabotage and Maintain Momentum
Follow these 4 tips to help you conquer self-sabotage.
Change the way you think. Realize that this isn’t actually “sabotage” but rather it’s your subconscious doing its job of trying to keep you safe and in your comfort zone. When you stop seeing self-sabotage as a flaw, you can begin to take action.
Start with small changes. Old habits are not easily left behind and are seldom overcome by making sweeping changes (as outlined in a great book, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.) Start with replacing one negative mantra with a positive one. For example, change “I don’t want to blow it this time” to “I want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Find someone to hold you accountable. Once you have awareness you will begin to catch yourself, but if you have someone who commits to helping you flip your thinking, you will be able to stop yourself before you dive off the deep end. Identify a partner (perhaps someone else who is committed to rising above PJSD and self-sabotage) and agree to hold each other accountable. While you may not yet be able to give yourself the grace that you should, someone else can help you see things more clearly.
Ask yourself better questions. This is another form of “flipping” your thinking and it is one that helps make your brain work for you rather than against you. When you change questions like “Why bother?” to “Is there any evidence that my new boss is likely to attack my presentation?” your brain will give you an answer that will serve you much better and your procrastination will turn to forward motion.
Overcoming self-sabotage is an essential component of fundamentally changing your relationship to your career. And that change is a vital step in Bulletproofing Your Career…for LIFE.