We all do it. No matter how successful you are, at one time or another, you’ll fall into the trap of self-sabotaging behaviors, and the price of admission is not earning what you’re worth.

  • Your income will suffer
  • Your self-esteem will plummet
  • Your confidence will find new lows

Self-sabotaging behaviors in business

The end result? Frustration. Burnout. Resentment (of your clients or your business). And yes, even more self-sabotaging behaviors. This downward spiral can quickly turn devastating, but stopping it is easy when you learn to recognize the symptoms.


Did you mean to apply for that high-end coaching program but missed the deadline? Or maybe you were going to send a proposal to a potential new client, but waited too long? Or maybe you simply waited too long to take advantage of a sale price on a hot new app that everyone’s raving about.

These and other missed opportunities can often be blamed on simple procrastination, one of the most destructive habits we suffer from. Procrastination is what keeps us working late at night to make a deadline, costs us money in late fees, and even costs us business.

If you’re prone to procrastination, try these techniques to put an end to one of the most common self-sabotaging behaviors:

  • Recognize your fear. What often keeps us stuck is simple fear. We’re afraid that even with that amazing coach we still won’t reach our goals, so we put off applying. We’re afraid we’ll look bad when compared to other proposals, so we just don’t send one. But if you want to be successful in business, you must learn to recognize and face your fears, then do the work anyway.

  • Visualize the life and business you desire. Imagine what it will be like to have that amazing business you’ve been dreaming about. Picture your ideal workday, daydream about that fabulous vacation you’ll take, and imagine VIP days with your ideal client.

  • Reward yourself. It’s okay to give yourself a little incentive for getting things done. Take yourself out to lunch; buy a new pair of shoes; take an afternoon off. Do what’s most likely to motivate you to power through your fears and take the next step.

Failing to Complete Your Projects

Be honest. How many half-written books, partially planned programs, and unfinished products are cluttering up your hard drive right now?

If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, the answer is probably several.

You started all of them with great enthusiasm. You planned out the modules or chapters, created the slide decks, and maybe even outlined the sales page. And then…you just stopped working on it.

Maybe you tell yourself that you’re too busy. Maybe you “need to do some more research.” Or maybe you simply lost interest. But the truth is, none of those are the real reason. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this self-sabotaging habit is actually a symptom of a lack of confidence, and it’s keeping you from the success you deserve.

Consider this: You cannot know the actual success rate of a program you’ve never finished, and you cannot improve upon something you’ve never completed. So rather than filling your hard drive with half-finished projects, power through and start releasing them—even if you believe they’re not perfect, and even if you think they’ll never sell.

Lack of planning

Most entrepreneurs tend to dive into their daily workload without giving much thought to planning and strategizing. Some take the time to plan out bigger goals on an annual or quarterly basis and this helps move things along, however planning out your day is also a great way to move through tasks and deadlines to hit your goals. What you do on a daily basis contributes small but steady efforts to long term goals and if you plan well, you can move things in the right direction without spending a lot of time.

I know entrepreneurs who work 10 and 12 hour days trying to manage their workload and still feel like they got nowhere at the end of the day. Don’t you think taking a few minutes each day to set some daily goals and keep you on track is worth the time?

The best approach is either the night before or before you start any tasks in the morning to write a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish for the day. I like to mark tasks that will take 10 minutes or less with a star and get these done first. I usually find that’s half of my to-do list gone in under an hour!

I also like to take a “big rock” that’s a task that requires a significant amount of time or effort to complete and break it down into manageable pieces of about 1 hours worth of work. I add that onto my daily task list every day until it’s done.

If you do it consistently, a small amount of daily planning can go a really long way and save you time and money in the long run!

Putting off client and sales generating work

If you are really passionate about your work and your company, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your own business tasks that are not revenue generating. It’s not that you don’t want to do the client work, it’s more that you have a great idea and a sudden boost of energy to start working on that blog post, or marketing campaign, or building that new system.

Sometimes it’s a mixture of procrastination and shiny object syndrome that drives this behavior; other times it could be fear, lack of knowledge or pure frustration that causes the issue. The key is recognizing it’s happening and putting processes in place to help you navigate around the obstacles.

I don’t have to tell you that client work is what pays the bills and keeps you in business. If you are not spending 80% of your time on client work, you will not stay in business for long.

Hesitating to outsource work or not delegating

You cannot do it all! Refusing to get help in some areas of your business, especially those areas you are not particularly skilled in will cost you money and your sanity over time. It is hard, especially during start up, to spend money on areas you feel you could do yourself. The reality though (see above section) is that you will end up sacrificing paid work to do unpaid work.

Get creative with your approach to this. You don’t have to hire someone full time to help you. You can outsource specific tasks, especially the ones you don’t like (Bookkeeping anyone??). You can hire subcontractors by the hour, day, week, month or project so you can set a tight budget and keep track of the expense to outsource.

Now it’s your turn – There are many behaviours that are seen as self-sabotaging and can be holding you back from creating the business of your dreams. What self-sabotaging behaviours do you recognize in yourself? I’d love to get your comments below!