Humans are infinitely powerful. We have the ability of co-creating the world and to pursue any goal we desire. Our potential and our ability to learn is beyond our own comprehension.
Developing new skills and using our strengths are important to our wellbeing. Recent discoveries in positive psychology have shown that setting goals that provide us with meaning and purpose are integral to our wellbeing. But when it comes to living happy lives, humans are also confusing and complex beings.
Modern psychology has observed a curious behavior as we near the fulfillment of our personal and professional goals. We’re on the verge of achieving a goal we’ve been striving for – a goal we’ve spent countless hours, months or perhaps years on (not to mention money) – and suddenly an obstacle appears from out of nowhere that causes us to slip, stall, delay, and mess up. That obstacle? Ourselves.
Why do we self-sabotage when we get so close to achieving our dreams? Often when we make a decision to pursue a goal, it means the ending of something else. For example, think about pursuing a new work opportunity which is more aligned with your strengths and passions, or a personal goal around weight loss. To achieve this goal, it means letting go of the old you and your old way of life. And the truth is that even if our old or current situation is negative and we feel stuck, it’s also familiar to us. And with familiarity comes comfort.
Leaving behind our comforts can be hard. We like predictability. We like routine. We’re used to behaving a certain way. Suddenly, when we discover there is a new way – a way that would make us happier – we get scared of the unknown, and we cling to the old, familiar patterns. However, as 30minMBA Founder and CEO Therese Gedda explains in her keynote ‘Brilliance’, “True courage means risking being uncomfortable. It’s part of committing to thrive”.
American author and lecturer Marianne Williamson famously said, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”. It’s true. We are afraid of our own potential. We are afraid of the greatness within us. We’re afraid of our own power.
So, how can we stop self-sabotaging ourselves? Be mindful of your own behavior as you’re pursuing your personal and professional goals and particularly when you’re nearing the completion of a goal. Look for signs and catch yourself when you feel procrastination, resistance or self-sabotage creeping in. If you see yourself delaying, or creating excuses, bring your attention to it.
Your potential is waiting to be realized. Henry David Thoreau said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” And what you will become is truly magnificent.