I spent much of my twenties in a state of self-sabotage. No matter how many signs indicated that success was right in front of me as an online marketing consultant, I never really believed that I was good enough to be an entrepreneur. Instead, I pursued a career in financial services out of a sense of obligation. Day after day, I worked at a job that left me uninspired and ignored the red flags that I wasn't living the life I really wanted.
Around the time I turned 27, I began to realize that the biggest reason I wasn't living the life I wanted or enjoying the success I desired was me. By repeatedly giving into the idea that I would never be enough, I had built self-destructive habits and false belief systems that kept me from reaching my potential. Over time, I began to identify those habits and unwind those thoughts. Now, at 32, I'm living the life that I once thought was impossible.
Personal success comes from both doing the right things and also NOT doing the wrong things. You can achieve a level success by doing one or the other, but you need to embrace both to reach your true potential.
Addition by subtraction starts by removing toxic and self-destructive habits that hold you back from ultimate success. Here's a list of habits to stop right now.
Feeling guilty for living the life you want
You only get one life, so live it to the fullest. When you let go of the expectations that others have for you, you will better be able to tap into your own desires and experience the state of flow that comes when you are true to yourself.
Fighting against your negative thoughts
Instead of blocking out negative thoughts, use the power of awareness to acknowledge and accept them. What thoughts are keeping you from reaching for more and believing you can grasp it? When you recognize a self-limiting belief without fighting it or judging yourself for having had the thought in the first place, the thought begins to lose power and you're free to let it go.
Not taking care of yourself first
Do you always say "yes," even when you want to say "no?" Give yourself permission to protect your time, energy and happiness. You'll never achieve your goals if you're always doing things for other people.
Limiting your dreams
While it can be good to start small, don't limit yourself to dreams that are easy to obtain. Have fun when you imagine your future, and set lofty goals. If you settle for safety, you'll feel cheated even when you succeed.
Not saying "yes" to spontaneity
When I was in my twenties, I often said "no" to spontaneous trips, parties or meetings that didn't have a clear goal or benefit. This bad habit kept me from experiencing the magic and serendipity that comes from saying "yes" and allowing things to unfold in unexpected ways. Many of the great things in my life today came from saying "yes" without a clear plan.
Believing in perceived limitations
Step back from your duties and make a self-assessment. What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe that you are smart, capable and worthy of your goals? Let go of self-doubt and any limiting beliefs that reinforce a sense of unworthiness.
Not defining exactly what you want
According to self-improvement expert Dr. Wayne Dyer, "We become what we think about all day long." If you're not setting definitive goals, you're not taking advantage of the power of intention. Clearly define what you want by writing a few paragraphs that describe the life you want. Put that vision someplace visible so you can see and focus on it every day.
Taking on debt
When we started SkyBell, we had to work for months without a paycheck. There's no way I could have afforded to do that if I had not been saving money and living within my means beforehand. Successful people know that the money you save is the money you can use to build your business and invest, both of which are very hard to do if you're in debt.
Failing to plan ahead
It's tempting to start each day in a rush of e-mail, and easy to get caught in reactionary activity. Don't. Instead, take some time each night to plan out the next day. Prioritize the work you must get finished before you turn to emails and phone calls. Planning ahead not only applies to each day, but also to months, quarters and years.
Thinking only in the short term
Short-term thinking creates a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle that prevents you from strategically planning for the future. It's a hard cycle to break, since you're always dealing with the repercussions of short-term thinking. Instead, take time to really think about the goals you want to reach in the next 1-3 years, then schedule smaller milestones that you can meet along the way.
Self-sabotage may be the beginning, but it doesn't need to be the end. Recognizing your own self-destructive behaviors is the first step to stopping them and the key to elevating your success as both a person and an entrepreneur.